CHICAGO—Supporters and members of Saint Sabina Church joyously welcomed their longtime pastor and Father Michael Pfleger back to the ministry on Sunday, December 11 after the activist priest was reinstated. A review board stated there was no evidence he was guilty of sexual abuse.
The Archdiocese of Chicago decided on December 10 not to keep Father Pfleger from his duties as senior pastor after he was temporarily removed from his duties after a sexual abuse allegation surfaced in October.
“In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board, assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted a thorough review of the allegations,” wrote Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich in a letter on the decision. “The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations. Having given careful consideration to their decision, which I fully accept, I now inform you that I am reinstating Father Pfleger to his position of senior pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, effective immediately.”
Upon hearing the news, Father Pfleger was very happy to return to his ministry and duties.
“I was so relieved and grateful,” he told The Final Call. “I knew I would have to be vindicated eventually because I knew it was false but while you know, there’s this cloud while they investigate as if you’re guilty until proven innocent. So, when I got the call, I told them I was grateful and extremely grateful to go back to my home and family at St. Sabina.”
He said he especially appreciated the support of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and his wife, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan while he dealt with having to step down.
“When I look at my friends who have mentored me, I will never back off of any one of them,” he continued. “People have made up their minds that they are going to continue to come after me but as I’ve said over and over again, you’ve got the wrong one.”
Joseph Saunders is a longtime supporter of Father Pfleger. He told The Final Call that he is happy to hear that the pastor is returning to the ministry. “A weight was lifted off of me personally. I’ve been knowing him since ‘96, 97,” said Mr. Saunders. He said Father Pfleger has been a tremendous help in the community and to those in need for years. Mr. Saunders said the priest even gave him a refrigerator when he needed it. The needs in the community are many and through his work, Father Pfleger helps to supply those needs, he explained.
After hearing Saint Sabina’s weekly service on Dec. 11, Mr. Saunders was even more moved.
“In his sermon, he mentioned the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and I think that all of this came towards him [Father Pfleger] because of him,” he said.
According to Mr. Saunders, since the Chicago pastor showed support for Minister Farrakhan and spoke against his Facebook ban in 2019, Father Pfleger has received lots of backlash.
Mr. Saunders said he admired Father Pfleger for standing up for his beliefs and not budging amidst the allegations. He hopes to continue seeing Father Pfleger help those in need.
Saint Sabina Church is continuing with its community outreach events and are especially happy to have Father Pfleger be a part of them. The church wrote on their website in response to the reinstatement, “Thank you, God is faithful!”
—Tariqah Muhammad, Staff Writer