(CNN)Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of the St. Sabina parish in Chicago, is “devastated, hurt” and angry after being asked to step aside after an allegation was made against him of sexual abuse of a minor, Pfleger said in a post on his Facebook page.
In the post, the social activist said his “life is more than a 40-year-old accusation,” and asked his supporters to pray for him and “for the person,” seemingly referring to his accuser. According to Pfleger, the diocese asked him “not to speak out at this time,” but he took to Facebook to post the short statement on Wednesday. “I can’t possibly respond to the hundreds of Texts, emails, and calls that I have received from all across the nation since yesterday,” Pfleger said. “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,” Pfleger said.Read MoreChicago overwhelmed by gun violence, priest saysPfleger was asked to step aside after the archdiocese received the allegation against him, according to a letter to the faith community from Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago.In the letter Tuesday, which was also addressed to the St. Sabina Academy, Cupich said the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review had received an allegation of an incident that happened more than 40 years ago.Pfleger joined the predominantly Black parish in 1981, according to the parish website. He is often asked to preside over funeral services for murder victims and has been outspoken on issues of city politics.The allegation was also reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and Cook County State’s Attorney, as is policy, the cardinal’s letter said.In a statement, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it received a letter from the archdiocese on Tuesday about allegations against Pfleger that were reported to the archdiocese on Monday.”It is not clear that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) had been notified by the Archdiocese about these allegations. Out of an abundance of caution we are notifying CPD so they can investigate the matter and seek charges if appropriate,” the state’s attorney’s office said. CNN has reached out to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Chicago Police Department for comment on the investigation. Pfleger has agreed to step aside and live away from the parish during the investigation, Cupich said in his letter. Father Thulani Magwaza will serve as temporary administrator of St. Sabina Parish. “Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false,” Cupich said in his letter. “Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.””It is crucial that you know nothing is more important than the welfare of the children entrusted to our care. The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward,” he said. A statement from St. Sabina said, in part, “We, the Cabinet of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, believe that these accusations are unfounded, and we boldly stand behind the integrity, passion, work and ministry of our Pastor, Rev. Michael Pfleger … We understand there is a process & protocol of the Archdiocese of Chicago and will fully cooperate, However, we believe that our Sr. Pastor will be fully exonerated from all accusations.”CNN has reached out to Pfleger for comment. Pfleger, a longtime activist on Chicago’s South Side, has gained a national reputation for speaking out on policing, gun violence, community inequality and other issues. In 2019, Cardinal Cupich denounced Pfleger for hosting a speech by Louis Farrakhan, saying the church should not have provided a platform for the Nation of Islam leader to “smear” the Jewish people. “This is a free-speech issue,” Pfleger told CNN. “I don’t agree with everything Minister Farrakhan has said. I don’t agree with anyone on everything, but we are in a dangerous time when we can no longer have dialogue without demonizing one another.”