Supporters of the embattled Fr Michael Pfleger continue their push for his reinstatement, as plans were revealed last week for a protest at the offices of Cardinal Blase Cupich.
Officially sponsored by Pfleger's parish, Saint Sabina, the event—the latest in a string of pro-Pfleger rallies following child sex abuse allegations against him—will be the first to occur at the physical workplace of Chicago's archbishop. Previous events had been held at or near St Sabina.
The parish had also organized a letter-writing campaign meant to force the prelate's hand, calling for an expedited investigation. Earlier this month, a phone campaign sought to flood the archdiocesan offices with a show of support for the longtime pastor and local social justice hero. (Participants were advised to "call multiple times".)
Meanwhile, Pfleger's accusers have gone to press multiple times, detailing the timeframe and location of the alleged abuse. The two men in question are brothers, and reportedly did not know of each other's experiences until the first allegation was made public.
This week's event continues Saint Sabina's firm denial that the allegations are true, a position they have made clear since day one—literally.
Not unlike the aforementioned phone campaign, a flood of support has rolled from the Chicago area and beyond, as Pfleger's defenders maintain both that his track record on social issues precludes the likelihood of abuse, and that the accusations themselves are a setup organized by Cupich himself, as a way to rid himself of a troublesome priest.
Pfleger himself continues to post periodically for his nearly 126k followers on Facebook, usually avoiding the topic of the investigation. The comments sections generally follow suit, making for a peculiar scene in light of St Sabina's own page, website, and email content.
Yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times ran an op-ed yesterday from John W. Fountain, which both lionized Pfleger and disparaged the trustworthiness of the local see. (And which the parish reposted.)
While Saint Sabina's public stances and statements have not directly accused Cupich of subterfuge, their criticism of the ongoing investigation's length—and silence—seems to land squarely at the feet of the local hierarch.
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).