A controversial, anti-violence activist priest in Chicago who once caught attention for his relationship with former President Barack Obama is under investigation for another sexual abuse of a minor case. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Saturday that Father Michael Pfleger will be under investigation for a new allegation of sexual abuse of a minor said to have taken place more than 30 years ago, according to a statement. 

“Father Pfleger has been asked to step aside from ministry and live away from the parish while the allegation is investigated. He has agreed to cooperate fully with this request,” Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said Saturday. 

The allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement officials.

Pfleger is no stranger to controversy. He once received condemnation for threatening to “snuff out” a federally licensed gun shop owner at an NRA protest led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago. 

The Catholic priest has also faced heat for defending Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s own pastor known for controversial sermons post the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. 

In 2019, the archbishop of Chicago apologized after Pfleger invited the Nation of Islam leader to speak at St. Sabina Church in response to Facebook’s decision to ban Farrakhan from its platforms over alleged hate speech and Farrakhan proceeding to make more disparaging comments about the Jewish community at the pulpit. 

Father Michael Pfleger attends funeral services for Roger Ebert at Holy Name Cathedral on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Pfleger attends funeral services for Roger Ebert at Holy Name Cathedral on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Obama has attempted to distance himself from Wright, as well as Pfleger. In 2008, Pfleger went after then- Sen. Obama’s Democratic presidential opponent Clinton, accusing her of becoming teary-eyed before the New Hampshire primary because she thought, “There’s a Black man stealing my show.” 

Pfleger was reportedly suspended for two weeks and later apologized. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago said Saturday Father Thulani Magwaza will serve as administrator and will attend to the needs of the St. Sabina parish and school community upon his return from visiting family in early November.

Until then, Father David Jones will serve as temporary administrator.

“The welfare of the children entrusted to our care remains our priority,” the Archdiocese statement reads. 

Roman Catholic Father Michael Pfleger poses in Saint Sabina Catholic Church in in Chicago January 9, 2009.  (John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)

Another accusation against Pfleger came to light in January 2021. In that instance, two brothers in their 60s say Pfleger inflicted years of sexual abuse on them in the 70s, according to FOX 32 Chicago. 

Father Michael Pfleger attends the Chicago premiere of 'Under the Gun' on May 5, 2016.
Pfleger attends the Chicago premiere of “Under the Gun” on May 5, 2016.
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for EPIX

Pfleger is known in the Chicago community as an activist and civil rights leader, the TV station reports. 

Pfleger was also suspended in 2011 amid a disagreement over a proposed transfer to a different parish. He’s served as pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church since 1981, according to WGN, an independent TV station in the Windy City.

Fox News’ Sam Dorman and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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