Fr. Pfleger Pressures Archdiocese to Wrap Up Investigation
Once again, a popular Chicago priest who has been thrice-accused of abuse is making noise in the media and putting pressure on Archdiocesan officials to wrap up their investigation into the allegations against him. We hope that his accusers are getting the help and support they need as they continue to be attacked in the press. We urge the priest and his supporters to stand down until the investigation has been completed.
The fact that three men have come forward with allegations shows that this situation is serious and warrants a complete investigation into Fr. Michael Pfleger. While we understand that the priest has the right to advocate for himself, we believe that putting undue pressure on Catholic officials to wrap up the investigation as quickly as possible will only make things worse for everyone involved. These allegations must be carefully and thoroughly investigated and this should be done without pressure from the accused or his supporters.
We also take issue with several statements made by Fr. Pfleger in his letter. First, he claims there is no corroboration, but from what we have learned, the first two victims’ statements corroborate each other, and the third victim gave a sworn affidavit which provides additional corroboration. Second, we note that when the allegations against Fr. Pfleger were first made in January, he did not openly deny them in his initial response on Facebook. It was only after he hired an attorney that he publicly proclaimed his innocence. To us, these are concerning inaccuracies.
Fr. Pfleger says he is unhappy with the investigation's timeline. We believe that what he is really unhappy about is that he is being investigated. Victims and advocates have been unhappy with the Catholic Church’s historic lack of investigation and cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. We do not have confidence that any church-managed investigation will be thorough or victim-centric. Nonetheless, we appreciate that Catholic officials in Chicago are taking the three allegations seriously.
In situations like this we can only think of the victims. They themselves have said they did not come forward because of Fr. Pfleger’s prominence in their community and their fear of being disbelieved and discredited. It is sad that those fears are being borne out. We hope they are getting the help and support that they need and that their allegations are being taken seriously by both Archdiocesan and secular investigators.
While this investigation is ongoing, we believe that Fr. Pfleger should not be working anywhere, not while he is collecting a paycheck from the archbishop. Too often we see sexual predators seek out other avenues of access when one is cut off. That is why so many ex-priests sneak into the mainstream and become counselors, hypnotherapists, roving preachers and other sorts of vocations that get them close to the pools of victims they covet.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)