Leaders at Saint Sabina Church have announced that they plan to withhold monthly assessments normally paid to the Archdiocese of Chicago until the investigation into abuse allegations against Fr. Michael Pfleger is concluded.
The announcement was made in a letter from Cory Williams, Pfleger’s executive assistant at St. Sabina.
“Today, the leadership and cabinet of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina announced, in its continued effort to get the Archdiocese of Chicago to swiftly conclude its investigation into the allegations against Father Pfleger, that it has made the decision to withhold the monthly assessments of the church and school to the archdiocese starting in March,” Williams’ letter read, in part.
According to the letter, the monthly assessments from church members total approximately $100,000 per month. The funds will be set aside, and will not be used for current or future programs, Williams said, and will be withheld until the investigation is ended.
Pfleger was removed from St. Sabina amid sexual abuse allegations from two brothers earlier this year. The brothers allege the abuse occurred more than 40 years ago, claims that Pfleger has repeatedly denied.
Pfleger’s attorneys have argued the allegations are nothing more than a “shakedown” attempt, saying that one of the brothers sent a handwritten letter to the priest in late 2020 asking for $20,000 in exchange for not coming forward with the accusations.
Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services determined that a report of “suspected child abuse or neglect” related to Pfleger was “unfounded.”
DCFS said that the determination was made after a “thorough evaluation.”
“This means that no credible evidence of child abuse or neglect was found during this investigation,” the letter read.
DCFS emphasized that the finding “does not necessarily mean that the incident did not occur,” but that it means the “evidence did not rise to the level required to indicate for abuse or neglect, as dictated by state law.”
Eugene Hollander, the lawyer who represents the brothers, said the agency’s findings are unimportant.
“DCFS’ findings have no bearing on the legal proceedings involving my clients or whether the Archdiocese of Chicago will remove Father Pfleger from his ministry,” he said in a statement. “Father Pfleger himself knows the truth of these allegations.”
Earlier this year, Pfleger was asked to step aside from ministry as the accusations were investigated. The archdiocese has not issued a final determination about Pfleger’s return to ministry.