“I am innocent of these charges….”
By Chinta Strausberg
Father Michael L. Pfleger is expected to visit the Auburn Gresham community on the weekend of Easter, reliable sources said late Tuesday.
In the interim, after 76 days of being a captive to his undisclosed apartment having been forced to step aside from his ministry while the Archdiocese investigate alleged sex abuse charges made by three black men, Father Pfleger broke his silence vowing to get right back into the saddle of social justice to help those in the Auburn Gresham community.
Monday was Day 76 of his being away from his beloved Saint Sabina. In a letter dated March 21st, Father Pfleger thanked his many supporters for their prayers and their letters to the Archdiocese and to Cardinal Blasé Cupich.
But, Father Pfleger said after two months of the Archdiocese’s investigation and with DCFS finding his accusers charges “unfounded,” and no information from the Archdiocese independent review board, it is time for him to get back to his ministry work in the community he has served for more than 45 years.
“To protect the parish, the community, and my name, nearly a week ago, in concert with due process and even canon law, my attorneys requested that I be allowed to address the Review Board at their Saturday, March 20th meeting,” Pfleger wrote.
“Late Friday afternoon, Moira Reilly, the newly appointed interim director (of the board), informed us that the Review Board was ‘not prepared to meet with me until they investigated further. When would that be? She couldn’t say beyond ‘as soon as practicable,’ telling us that ‘the Review Board is comprised of volunteers, most of whom have full-time jobs.’”
Disappointed that he has been denied the right to defend himself before the Board of Review, Father Pfleger wrote, “While this is disappointing, painful and harmful to the St. Sabina and Auburn Gresham communities, and me, I will not let this Board or the process destroy all that we, together, have built.
“I am innocent of the charges made against me and continue to believe that the Review Board and the Cardinal will see the truth, conclude that these uncorroborated allegations are unfounded, and restore me to the ministry at St. Sabina,” wrote Father Pfleger.
“In the meantime, I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this Board to do its job. While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.”
Father Pfleger has begun looking for “ways and opportunities” to minister in the Auburn Gresham community and “continue outreach while this process seemingly drags on.”
The Independent Review Board is headed by Moira Reilly, interim director of Child Abuse Investigations and Review, and the board members are Michael Comiskey, Deacon Kurt Davis, Gabriel Gomez, Deacon Herbert Johnson; Dr. Donald Miro; Kevin Morrissette, Jr.; Hon. Mary Mulhern; Heather Saylor; Michael Saylor; Rev. Michael Scherschel and Glenn Vanek.