Prominent Chicago Pastor Accused, SNAP Applauds Victim
A popular Chicago priest has been removed from his duties while allegations of child sexual abuse against him are investigated. We applaud the brave victim for coming forward and hope that this news will encourage others who may have experienced or witnessed abuse to come forward and make a report to local police.
The allegations against Fr. Michael Pfleger are already being sanitized by defenders of the Catholic Church as happening “40 years ago,” but these defenders do not apparently understand the statistics and facts about sexual violence. The average age of an abuse survivor coming forward in the US is 52, so if anything, these allegations fall within the expected time frame for reporting. This delay is normal and understandable given the fact that the accused is a powerful and well-respected member of the community. We hope that local police, prosecutors, and the Attorney General’s office will investigate these allegations fully and release their findings to the public.
We are not surprised that more and more accusations against priests in Chicago are coming to light. The preliminary report into Catholic clergy abuse in Illinois released by former AG Lisa Madigan demonstrated that Church officials throughout Illinois ignored or dismissed almost ¾ of all the allegations they received. We expect that many of these victims who were ignored by the Church are coming forward again as our nation becomes more open and accepting of the realities of sexual violence.
If Cardinal Blase Cupich wants to make a good-faith effort to support survivors of clergy abuse in Illinois, he should help fund a confidential hotline for victims and pledge to route each and every call on that hotline to local police and prosecutors. This is an easy step that a wealthy institution like the Archdiocese of Chicago could do quickly.
We hope that the survivor who came forward with these allegations is getting the help and support that they need, and we encourage any still-silent and suffering victims who have yet to speak out to call and make a report to the Attorney General’s confidential abuse hotline at 1-888-414-7678.
(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)