advocacy and activism

Rev. Dr. Michael Pfleger biography: 13 things about activist Catholic priest from Chicago

 

Reverend Doctor Michael Louis Pfleger is a Catholic priest known for his fight against alcohol and tobacco billboards, drugs and racism. Here are 13 more things about him:

  1. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States. (a)
  2. He earned his bachelor’s degree in theology from Loyola University and his master’s degree in divinity from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. He received his honorary PhD degree in divinity from North Park Theological Seminary and completed post-graduate studies at Mundelein College and the Catholic Theological Union. (a) (b)
  3. In 1968, he started living and ministering in the African-American community on both the south and west sides of Chicago. (a)
  4. In the early 1970s when he was a seminarian, he allegedly sexually abused two brothers at the then-Precious Blood Parish on Chicago’s West Side and at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview. In December 2020, the younger brother, a former drug addict who has been clean since 2008, sent a handwritten letter to him asking for a one-time payment of $20,000 in an attempt to get him to admit guilt.
  5. On May 14, 1975, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was 31 years old when he was appointed pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church in 1981, making him the youngest full pastor in the diocese.
  6. He adopted two African-American boys named Lamar and Beronti in 1981 and in 1992, respectively. In 1997, he became a foster father to African-American man Jarvis Franklin, who died in gang crossfire on May 30, 1998. (b)
  7. He and an underage boy regularly drank alcohol, went to jazz clubs and smoked marijuana together in the 1970s, according to an affidavit released by attorney Eugene Hollander on March 3, 2021. In 1978 in his bedroom at Saint Sabina Church in Chicago, he grabbed the penis of the boy, then 18, over the boy’s clothes, according to the affidavit. When the affidavit was released, the accuser was a truck driver living outside Chicago. According to Hollander, the truck driver just wanted the truth to come out and was not seeking any compensation. (c)
  8. He adopted two African-American boys named Lamar and Beronti in 1981 and in 1992, respectively. In 1997, he became a foster father to African-American boy Jarvis Franklin, who died in gang crossfire on May 30, 1998. (b)
  9. At the request of Coretta Scott King, he was the keynote speaker for the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on January 20, 2003. He was one of the speakers to eulogize Coretta on February 8, 2006. He was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. International Board of Preachers on April 7, 2011. (b)
  10. On January 24, 2009, he was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Office of Racial Justice of the Archdiocese of Chicago on April 7, 2010 and the Abolitionist Award from American University and Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives on February 14, 2019. (b)
  11. On January 18, 2017, he was the keynote speaker for the national Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service again at Ebenezer Baptist Church. On April 4, 2018, he was the keynote speaker for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s assassination on the balcony of The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. (b)
  12. In January 2021, he was asked to step aside from his ministry at St. Sabina Catholic Church due to the allegations that he sexually abused two brothers in the 1970s. The brothers, both living in Texas, USA, discussed the abuse in a press conference on January 25, 2021. The older brother, a retired Air Force sergeant and police officer, said, “This happened to me. Whether you believe it or not, that’s on you. That’s not on me.” (c)
  13. On February 24, 2021, he took to Twitter to deny the child sex abuse allegations against him. On March 3, 2021, his attorneys Michael Monico and James Figliulo issued a joint statement denying the allegation of the truck driver accusing him of sexual misconduct that purportedly happened in 1978. (d) (e)

 

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