St. Sabina parishioners rebuke sexual abuse allegation against Rev. Pfleger

Over a hundred church members and other supporters said they don’t believe the allegations, citing their pastor’s years of selfless acts against violence in Chicago.

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Pam Bosley along with around 100 supporters and parishioners speaks to media outside St. Sabina’s, during a rally for Father Michael Pfleger, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

Pam Bosley, along with around 100 supporters and parishioners, speaks to reporters outside St. Sabina Church during a rally for Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the church.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Parishioners of St. Sabina Church held a silent march and prayer Friday evening in the wake of an allegation of sexual abuse against their leader, Rev. Michael Pfleger.

They were not silent before the march, however.

“Never once have I looked at Father Mike and thought ‘Nah, something a little suspect,’” said Joseph Saunders, who’s worked with Pfleger for over two decades — since 1996. “I’ve been knowing that man, my ears are to these streets, my ears is to the church, we know if something is going on behind the scenes. I’m here to tell you Father Mike ain’t on that.”

Saunders was joined by over a hundred people who marched silently around the perimeter of their church, 1210 W. 78th Pl. They stopped at each corner, listening intently as a prayer was said.

“If you take away his name, what does Father Mike exemplify? Jesus. That’s it,” Saunders said.

“Feeding over 50,000 people one week when the government wasn’t doing nothing, politicians wasn’t doing nothing, alderman wasn’t doing nothing. He was out there in the cold, y’all,” he added, before shouting: “Father Mike saved my life! Father Mike has saved so many people’s lives!”

Time and time again people recounted the demonstrations Pfeger helped lead against gun violence in Chicago — many carried photos of loved ones killed by gun violence.

Pam Bosley pointed to the 2018 Dan Ryan shutdown, a march last summer for Breonna Taylor and a New Year’s Eve march denouncing the level of violence in 2020 as reasons the sexual abuse allegations couldn’t be true.

“Father Mike is a man of faith and truth, and has been a true friend of my family for over 14 years,” said Bosley. “We will not stop fighting for you because we know how hard you marched for us — in the cold, in the snow, in the rain. You stood for us, and we will continue to stand for you.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich notified the St. Sabina community on Tuesday that he had “asked Father Pfleger to step aside from ministry” after the archdiocese’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received “an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago.”

Friday evening, the archdiocese said the investigation continues.

Pfleger released a statement on Wednesday, saying he was “devastated, hurt and yes, angry” but had been asked by the Diocese to not speak out.

More than once this week, members of the congregation have publicly condemned the allegations.

A woman holds up a painting of Father Michael Pfleger outside the front of St. Sabina’s during a rally for Father Pfleger.

A woman holds up a painting of Father Michael Pfleger in front of St. Sabina Church during a Friday rally, march and prayer showing support for the pastor.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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