For the first time since an allegation of sexual abuse against the Rev. Michael Pfleger came to light earlier this week, his church leadership has issued a statement, saying they “fully expect exoneration.”
“We boldly stand behind our senior pastor,” St. Sabina Church associate minister Kimberly Lymore said standing outside the South Side church Thursday morning. “We do not believe the accusation.”
Lymore said the parish hopes for a “swift and impartial” investigation.
“Pastor Pfleger is a fighter who is typically very vocal; however, he is sensitive to the gravity of this investigation process,” she said. “He has agreed to fully cooperate, and as the matter is being reviewed, he is not allowed to speak at this time.”
Lymore declined to answer questions from the media.
The church, at 1210 W 78th Pl., is planning a rally and “community march” in support of Pfleger at 6 p.m. Friday.
The statement came a day after Pfleger, also in a statement, thanked people for their support and said he was “devastated” by the allegations.
“I am devastated, hurt and yes, angry, but I am first, a person of faith, I Trust God,” he said. “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 . . . ”
Pfleger has not responded to multiple requests from the Chicago Sun-Times for an interview.
Cardinal Blase Cupich had announced “the difficult news” in a letter to the St. Sabina community Tuesday, saying he has “asked Father 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.”
Cupich said Pfleger agreed to his request and will live away from the parish during the archdiocese’s investigation. The allegation has also been reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, Cupich said.