One of Chicago’s most ardent anti-gunners, Father Michael Pfleger, pastor at the St. Sabina Catholic Church, has been removed from the Auburn Gresham parish after a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse was revealed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Pfleger has become prominent in the gun prohibition movement in Chicago over the past several decades. Pfleger’s removal was announced by Cardinal Blase Cupich in a letter to members of the St. Sabina parish Tuesday.
In a message posted on his Facebook page, Father Pfleger stated, “I can’t possibly respond to the hundreds of Texts, emails, and calls that I have received from all across the nation since yesterday. I am devastated, hurt and yes angry, but I am first, a person of Faith, I Trust God. Please keep me in prayer and the Faith Community of St. Sabina. I have been asked by the Diocese not to speak out at this time. I am Blessed with good leadership and amazing members, whom I love.. Pray also for the person, my life is more than a 40 year old accusation, and on that and my Faith I will stand…The Lord is my Shepherd….. I love you….”
A parish group released a statement supporting Pfleger, saying they believe the allegations are “unfounded.” The accusation dates back 40 years, according to published reports.
Pfleger’s anti-gun activism caused trouble in 2007 when he infamously declared, during a demonstration outside of Chuck’s Gun Shop in the Chicago suburb of Riverdale that the crowd should find proprietor John Riggio “and snuff you out.” Pfleger subsequently claimed he didn’t understand the lethal meaning of such a statement in street parlance.
In 2018, Pfleger had another embarrassing moment when his bodyguard was arrested outside the church after police spotted him holding a gun. The bodyguard, Henry Eugene Hale, had apparently allowed his Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card to expire the previous year. Nor did he have a concealed carry license, according to the account at the Catholic Citizens of Illinois website.
WMAQ News, the local NBC affiliate, said Pfleger is cooperating with the investigation.
Cardinal Cupich told a reporter, “The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward.”