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CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A notorious Chicago priest is without a parish after an allegation of sexual abuse against a minor surfaced against him.
Father Michael Pfleger is complying with the Chicago archdiocese's request to take a leave of absence as pastor of St. Sabina after a report he sexually abused a minor.
"In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Fr. Pfleger to step aside from ministry following receipt by the archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago," said Cdl. Blase Cupich in a letter published on Tuesday.
"Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed," he added.
Pfleger adopted two children and fostered a third, two of whom are now deceased.
He adopted Lamar in 1981, Beronti Simms in 1992, and became foster father to Jarvis Franklin in 1997.
In 1998, Jarvis Franklin was fatally shot in gang-related crossfire near St. Sabina.
Beronti collapsed and died in his Florida home in 2012 four days after a surgery.
Pfleger adopted Lamar in defiance of Cdl. John Patrick Cody, who was Chicago's local ordinary in 1981.
Pfleger has a well-documented history of social justice activism that has made it difficult for police to do their job, according to one Chicago officer who spoke with Church Militant under condition of anonymity.
The officer explained St. Sabina is in a high-crime area. The police are instructed to refrain from partisanship and deal with situations individually to serve and protect those in their jurisdiction. Pfleger is well-known for making that work unnecessarily difficult by his activism and what the officer described as "grandstanding" for Democrat narratives.
In 2018, Pfleger led a controversial "anti-violence" march that caused much consternation and shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway — a major artery in the city. The event received significant attention from mainstream media and on social media.
Archdiocesan clergy told Church Militant Pfleger has been an ostentatious and histrionic troublemaker since his ordination, with one individual who studied with the rebel priest adding "since seminary."
Pfleger's activism previously has landed him in hot water with Cupich.
In 2019, Cupich rebuked Pfleger for inviting Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina. Cupich said the pastor neither consulted him nor received his permission.
The cardinal decried the speech Farrakhan gave at St. Sabina, saying "Anti-semitic rhetoric — discriminatory invective of any kind — has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic church." Cupich apologized to his "Jewish brothers and sisters."
In 2008, Pfleger invited the controversial Jeremiah Wright — a former spiritual advisor of Barack Obama — to the parish.
"I wanted him to come tonight as a guest because he loves Dr. [Maya] Angelou, and I wanted him to see the love of people for him," Pfleger said at the time. "And so when I asked him about coming, he said he'd be honored to come. And it was a blessing for us to have him here."
In a statement posted on social media Wednesday, Pfleger said, "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," he added.
"I have been asked by the diocese not to speak out at this time," Pfleger said regarding the allegation. "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."
In a letter published Tuesday, the Cabinet of the Faith Community of St. Sabina said it believes the accusations are unfounded.
On its webpage, St. Sabina is described as a "Third Day Church" with 11 characteristics, including being a "church of revolution that counters the world system with the power of God."