Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich has brought relief to one of America's most vibrant Black parishes, restoring Fr Michael Pfleger to the helm of St Sabina Catholic Church after he was cleared of multiple sex abuse allegations.
"The Review Board has concluded there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations," Cupich said in a letter sent to the Auburn Gresham church this morning.
Pfleger was suspended from the parish in January after an accuser came forward, followed by a similar accusation from the first accuser's brother a few weeks later. They claimed they had never discussed the alleged incidents with one another before this year.
The ensuing investigation led to a series of protest actions from St Sabina directed toward the chancery—including public rallies, call-flooding, and a threat to withhold mandatory financial disbursements.
In response, Cupich scolded the parish in mid-April, making his own threat: to have the investigation restarted in another diocese.
There were no further reported incidents involving the church.
Notably, the first accuser preceded his public accusation with a request to Pfleger for cash, which he reportedly planned to use as an admission of guilt had Pfleger paid the sum. (He did not, and claimed throughout the entire ordeal that money was the accusers' main aim.)
A third man came forward with an accusation in early March, which like the first two stemmed from incidents beginning in the 1970s. His assusation was presumably included among those dismissed as unsubstantiated by the archdiocese.
Pfleger has agreed to a request by Cupich to "take the next two weeks to prepare himself to return," aiming for a start date of the weekend of Sunday, June 6th: the feast of Corpus Christi.
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).