Church officials clear abuse allegations against Chicago priest Pflegger. WGN Radio 720

CHICAGO (AP) — A prominent Roman Catholic priest known for his activism has been reinstated as the leader of the Diocese of Chicago after church authorities cleared him of sexual abuse charges against minors decades ago .

The Archdiocese of Chicago released a letter on Saturday in which a review panel found “no reason to doubt” that Reverend Michael Pfleger was guilty of the allegations. resigned from his position as

In his letter, Cardinal Blaise Kupich said he was aware of the “huge cost” that Pfleger’s absence had taken on the diocese, and that he would “do everything possible to see his reputation restored.” I promise to do so,” he said.

In October, a man in his late 40s told his lawyer that he was abused twice by Pfleger during choir rehearsals at St. Sabina’s parsonage in the late 1980s. That allegation was more similar to other allegations Pflegar faced last year involving the two brothers than it was 40 years ago.

Pfleger, 73, denied the abuse allegations and briefly spoke about his reinstatement before parishioners at Mass on Saturday night.

“This was very painful,” said Pfleger. “Thank you for your love, support and prayers.”

Pflegger, who is white, leads a black church in Chicago’s mostly black, low-income Auburn Gresham neighborhood. His work caught the attention of film director Spike Lee. Spike Lee based the character played by actor John Cusack in the 2015 film Chi-Raq on his Pfleger.

Pfleger has called for gun control and better schools and jobs, opposed tobacco and alcohol advertising, confronted drug dealers and stores selling drug paraphernalia, and led countless protests. He has made national headlines for his activism on such issues. He has been accused of his own activities, and once said he “brought jealousy, aggression, and hatred.”

Attorney Eugene Hollander, who filed a recent abuse allegation against Pfleger, said his client was “incredibly hurt” by the archdiocese’s decision.

Hollander also represented two men who came forward with sexual abuse allegations in 2021. He said the archdiocese volunteered to submit polygraph tests to support their claims before they found them unfounded.

“Combined with the brothers’ claims and their evidence, and my current client’s claims, we have an astounding amount of evidence,” Hollander said.

Hollander said the decision “will have a very chilling effect and strongly discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward.”

“Obviously, St. Sabina’s community rallied very strongly around Father Pflegger, and I think it’s very unfortunate that he turned a blind eye to allegations of sexual abuse,” Hollander said. Church officials clear abuse allegations against Chicago priest Pflegger. WGN Radio 720

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