AUBURN GRESHAM — An embattled Father Michael Pfleger is pledging to resume his ministry, two months after the Archdiocese of Chicago removed him from his post to investigate multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back to his earliest years as a priest.
In a statement Sunday, Pfleger urged the archdiocese to complete its investigation and vowed to “seek opportunities” to minister to the Auburn Gresham community in the meantime.
Pfleger’s statement is the latest effort from the St. Sabina community to put pressure on the archdiocese. Earlier this month, the church council announced it would halt its $100,000 monthly payments to the archdiocese until the investigation was complete.
“I am innocent of the charges made against me and continue to believe that the [archdiocese] Review Board and the Cardinal will see the truth, conclude that these uncorroborated allegations are unfounded and restore me to the ministry at St. Sabina,” Pfleger wrote. “In the meantime, I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this Board to do its job. While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.”
Pfleger was sidelined in January after two accusers came forward to accuse him of repeatedly molesting them for years starting when they were teenagers. It later was revealed the two were brothers in their 60s, who had never revealed their alleged abuse even to each other before coming forward, their attorney said.
A third accuser came forward earlier this month and said the world-renowned pastor had assaulted him when he was a teenager in the late ’70s.
An archdiocesan spokeswoman declined comment on Pfleger’s statement and reiterated the organization is doing its due diligence to examine the abuse claims.
“A thorough investigation benefits the accused as well as the accuser and the Independent Review Board is continuing to work on this and the other cases before it,” the spokeswoman said.
An attorney for the accusers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pfleger, who has led St. Sabina since 1981, said he initially agreed to requests not to make public comments about the issue though the Archdiocese has said they never pressured him to keep quiet. As the weeks have gone on, members of St. Sabina Church community and others close to Pfleger have gotten increasingly vocal around the issue, rallying behind him, protesting his removal with several demonstrations and dismissing the claims of his accusers.
In response to one demonstration, the archdiocese pushed back on persistent claims surrounding Pfleger’s case.
In his statement Sunday, Pfleger accused the archdiocese of withholding information from him and his parishioners. He said he was refused a request to address archdiocesan review board at a recent meeting, saying the board “was not prepared” to meet with him until they had more information.
“While this is disappointing, painful, and harmful to the St. Sabina and Auburn Gresham communities, and me, I will not let this Board or this process destroy all that we, together, have built,” Pfleger said. “Over the next days, I will seek other ways and opportunities to minister in the Auburn Gresham community and continue outreach while this process seemingly drags on. I will let you know soon where and how I’ll be doing this.”
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