Parishes cannot obstruct sex abuse investigations

Michael Pfleger Diocese Obstruction

Title: Parishes cannot obstruct sex abuse investigations

Author: Michael Sean Winters
Publisher: National Catholic Reporter
Date: 23APR2021

The Catholic Church’s struggle to eradicate the cancer of clergy sex abuse is on trial today. The community at St. Sabina church in Chicago is trying to obstruct the investigation of their much-beloved pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger on charges he sexually molested minors, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Once again this week, there was an organized effort through the St. Sabina website to employ inappropriate and intimidating tactics to put pressure on the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Independent Review Board (IRB) as the case of Father Michael Pfleger is being processed,” Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in a letter to the administrators of the parish.

Evidently, Pfleger’s supporters flooded the archdiocesan phone lines dedicated to reporting clergy sex abuse. The cardinal said that “tactics of intimidation…must immediately cease.” He said the investigation would be turned over to the review board of a different diocese, and the process would have to start from the beginning, if the efforts to obstruct the investigation did not cease.

Pfleger stepped aside as senior pastor at the parish in January when a letter from Cupich informed the congregation that an allegation had been received from 40 years back. In March, additional allegations surfaced. Most of the allegations of clergy sex abuse that are lodged now come from incidents that occurred a long time ago. As Peter Steinfels demonstrated conclusively in an exhaustive examination of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, almost all the cases dated from decades past, despite efforts by Attorney General Josh Shapiro to elide that fact. Long ago or not, the crime remains horrific and the damage to the victims never goes away.

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