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Viewpoint: Father Pfleger and Church Transparency

Father Michael Pfleger speaking with ABC 7 Chicago in June, 2021. fleger has again been cleared of alleged sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s independent review board. Image cfredit: ABC / YouTube.
Father Michael Pfleger speaking with ABC 7 Chicago in June, 2021. fleger has again been cleared of alleged sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s independent review board. Image cfredit: ABC / YouTube.

LAKE GENEVA, WI –  Father Michael Pfleger has again been cleared of alleged sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s independent review board.


Father Michael Pfleger has been reinstated to his position as senior pastor at Saint Sabina Catholic Church, according to a letter released by Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Archdiocese of Chicago Saturday [Dec. 10]….

In the letter, Cupich said, ‘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.’

A year prior to this round of allegations, Father Pfleger was reinstated after three men — including a pair of brothers who were juveniles at the time — alleged Pfleger sexually abused them.

Eugene Hollander, the attorney representing the accusers, released this statement to the media following the announcement of Pfleger’s reinstatement:


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My client is extremely disappointed by today’s finding. We had overwhelming evidence concerning these sexual abuse allegations. Today’s finding, unfortunately, will discourage other victims of sexual abuse from coming forward. The Independent Review Board did not disclose a basis for its finding. The man claimed that on two separate occasions Father Pfleger sexually assaulted him at the rectory of the church. The man decided to come forward after he saw media reports in 2021 about two brothers who claimed that Father Pfleger sexually abused them some 40 years earlier. The brothers both voluntarily submitted to polygraph examinations and passed. The brothers also presented evidence from a third victim who claimed that the priest sexually assaulted him shortly after he turned the age of 18. All of my clients presented credible and detailed evidence concerning the abuse.

What bothers me is that four men have now accused Pfleger of abuse, yet the archdiocese doesn’t have to give any details as to why he was cleared. Call me cynical, but I just don’t trust the archdiocese or its supposedly independent review board. The statement released by Hollander is interesting. It seems to me that certain people of the “woke persuasion” are protected by the political and church establishment and can get away with quite a lot.

That’s not the case with all priests (and laypersons), of course.

I’m very willing to say that Pfleger was falsely accused by these men – but I’m not willing to take the archdiocese’s word for it. In the interest of transparency, I think the archdiocese should publicly release the review board’s full reports on these four accusers and their specific allegations against Pfleger.

I won’t hold my breath for that to happen. In fact, the chance of that happening is about as likely as Chicagoans electing a conservative Republican mayor in the foreseeable future.


Unsolved Murder
Matt C. Abbott being interviewed for an upcoming episode of Real Life Nightmare with Paul Holes which features the 1998 unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz. Image credit: Real Life Nightmare with Paul Holes / HLN / CNN.

For those who’d like to watch online the entire HLN/CNN episode on the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz – featuring interviews with retired homicide detective Dawn Johnson, Catholic attorney Peter Kelly, investigative journalist Gina Barton, Diocese of Madison priest Father Richard Heilman, and me – one source is Amazon. Presently it’s not free to watch online, but the fee is nominal.

As someone who’s followed and written about the Kunz case for a number of years, I think the show’s producers provided a good overview of it and treated Catholic belief and practice with respect. Click here to view the episode’s trailer.

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