May 30th, 2008
04:32 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama takes heat from Catholic League over Pfleger

Pfleger has apologized for his comments.
Pfleger has apologized for his comments.

(CNN) - The Catholic League sharply criticized Barack Obama Friday for his ties to controversial Catholic minister Michael Pfleger, saying in a statement the Illinois senator should have severed ties with him long ago.

The criticisms come after wide circulation on the Internet of Pfleger's recent sermon, in which he mocked Hillary Clinton for becoming teary-eyed before the New Hampshire primary in January.

"And then, out of nowhere, came 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama,'" Pfleger said during a sermon Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. "And [Clinton] said, 'Oh damn, where did you come from? I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!' "

Barack Obama said Thursday he was "disappointed" in the comments, and Pfleger later issued an apology for the remarks.

"Why is it that of all the wonderful Catholic priests in the Chicago Archdiocese, Obama long ago chose Pfleger to hang with?" Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement. "Truth be known, Pfleger has a very troubling history."

“Senator Obama says he wants to bring people together. Then why does he choose as his clerical friends people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger?" Donohue also said. "They are two peas in a pod, both equally divisive, separated only by the color of their skin.”

The Catholic League is an influential non-partisan organization that says its mission is to protect the free-speech rights of Catholics "whenever and wherever they are threatened." The League was an early critic of the Rev. John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor whose endorsement was sought by John McCain but later repudiated.

Pfleger is a priest at St. Sabina's Catholic Church on the south side of Chicago. He had served on the Catholics for Obama committee until recently and the two have known each other for 20 years. As a state senator, Obama once directed a $100,000 grant to a community center affiliated with Pfleger's church.

Watch Pfleger's controversial comments here.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (621 Responses)
  1. Roger

    THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE IS AN EXTREME RIGHT ORGANIZATION. PFLEGER WAS OUT IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WORKING WITH THE POOR WHEN A LOT A PRIESTS IN CHICAGO WERE HOME ABUSING ALTAR BOYS. AS AN ADVOCATE FOR THE OPRESSED, OF COURCE OBAMA AND PFLEGER WOULD KNOW ONE ANOTHER. THESE JUDGEMENTAL FOLKS ARE ALL ABOUT SPEWING JUDGEMENT AND IGNORMACE. SOME GROUPS LOOK FOR WHATEVER THEY CAN TO BEAT UP ON OBAMA. THE CLINTON CROWD HAS BEEN WORKING HIM OVER FOR MUCH OF THE CAMPAIGN, AND I HAVEN'T NOTICED THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE CONCERNED ABOUT THAT. I DID NOT HEAR THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE CONCERNED ABOUT THE DOGS THAT WERE TURNED LOOSE ON OBAMA VOLUNTEERS WHO WERE GOING DOOR-TO-DOOR IN INDIANA. SO MUCH FOR THEIR MORALS AND GOODNESS.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Valerie - St. Louis, MO

    I am sick of everyone blaming Barack Obama for everything someone he knows says. No one has blamed Hillary for her pastor's pedofilia and no one is talking about the fraud case in California against the Clinton's. He is not responsible for anything anyone else says but only for what he says. America get a grip!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. PEOPLE PLEASE LISTEN!!!

    CNN POST THIS ONE. IT IS THE FIRST POST.

    I guess someone (Hillary) paid Pfleger to try to hurt Obama. Why would Pfleger say something like that now, especially after the Rev. Wright situation? C'mon people, let's think here.

    And the media really wants this thing to be drug out all the way to the convention. But I think the people will become sickened after next week if it does on.

    To the media, frustation tends to cause people spend less money, and the summer season is approaching. Spending would be very good for the economy. So please let us enjoy the summer.

    Questions
    1. Should Obama have left the church because Rev. Wright was the pastor?
    2. Should we all leave America because Bush is the president?

    Hint: You must answer YES to both questions or NO to both questions.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. tennesseean for obama

    If the Catholic League feels that Father Pfleger has such a troubled history and is such a divisive figure, why haven't they contacted the Catholic archdiocese about replacing him or having him disciplined?

    I find Pfleger's comments and behavior offensive and reprehensible too, but he is in the position he's in and able to make the comments he made because the Catholic Church has given him a pulpit.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. nobama

    Donahue is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT in her remarks. Obama and all of his silly supporters are such cry-babies, always screaming "racism" everytime anyone questions Obama as a suitable candidate for the highest position in the US. This priest is just another example of how Obama is NOT what he presents himself to be. There is NOTHING special about Obama. He is extremely arrogant, inexperienced, he's a racist, a hypocrite and a traitor, and oh yeah, also a sexist. I can only imagine the uproar if it would been MacCain the one to call a female reporter "sweetie" like Obama did. How can I vote for someone that ditched his Pastor/mentor/spiritual adviser/friend just to get more votes??? How can anybody trust such a hypocrite? Although I do not agree with Reverend Wright's views, I feel sorry for him for being so humilitated and discarded by Obama simply to get more votes. It is so apparent that the only reason Obama has gotten this far is because he is black . Obama has gotten almost ALL of the African-American vote. If that is not blatant racism , I don't know what is. His supporters treat him as he were their long-awaited Messiah. And his speeches? Oh please: Blah, Blah, Blah, change, blah blah, change, blah, change, blah, blah BLAH... I am so sick of the word "change"!!!!!!!! Well, Obama supporters, "change" is NOT necessarily a good thing. Obama has the huge potential to "change" this country's dire situation from bad to worse. I, along with MILLIONS of voters do not trust Obama and WILL NOT VOTE FOR HIM.

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  6. kwamw

    yeah right, u have big problems to deal with and this is what you choose to pursue. in ny case isnt he still actively on duty? why havent u guys kicked him out.non partisan in deed.
    dont let the public bring the microscope back onto you guys again cos we may be horrified once more at what we see.

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Jen

    Honestly, I am sick and tired of all this bickering going on. Senator Barack Obama can't control what this guy chooses to say. It's ridiculous to blame him for Minister Michael Pfleger's actions. He is a grown man. He should have known that this would have caused problems. Why everyone blames Obama for everything that others do. It's ridiculous. The media needs to stop televising this crap. Lets focus on the primary elections, and less on things that are not going to bring jobs, lower the gasoline prices, & end the War in Irak. Tomorrow is an important day for these two candidates. Lets just talk about seating FL & Michigan. Now, that's important.

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. Glenn

    A preview of the "October surprise." Do we really know Obama? Just because he gives a good speech, doesnt mean he's not a wolve in sheeps clothing

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Theresa

    OMG... Get over it. Obama didn't say squat. This is a free country where we've had people DIE for our right to free speech. Obama is not this guy and who really cares what he said?

    Obama made a stand and the guy apologized. Now Hillary backers are trying to keep it in the media. Yaaaaaawn...

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. The Beat Goes On

    Another racist schmuck buddy, pastor, and mentor of Obama.

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. independent in GA

    Oh Please!!!!!! You know this is RIDICULOUS. No person can control what comes out of the mouth of another person. If we disowned everyone we know because of something they have said or did or wore or drank or ate, then I think we'd all be alone.

    Let's not be so sensitive here. This VISITING priest of the church that Obama attended actually said what more than one person thought. Hiliary's behavior these last few months have offended me. As a woman and a former Hiliary supporter, I find it disgusting the way she wants to have it both ways. One day she's tought and a fighter then the next day she cries she's being treated unfairlly and they (whomever her they is) are misogynists. Maybe the kitchen's too hot for her?

    She should face the truth at this point. Her campaign was poorly run. She surrounded herself around a bunch of expensive consultants that didn't know how to run a successful campaign. They ran an incumbent type campaign and Hiliary chose to shun the media at first but when she ran low on cash and saw she had some real competition then she went running to every media venue that would have her. OH but she and Bill cry that the media is unfair!!!! B.S.!!!!!!! She was the most well known candidate with all the benefits and the most money but managed it poorly which indicates how much of a poor planner she'd be as president. Her behavior and mismanagement of her campaign actually sets women back b/c it just lends to the thought it's too much for women to handle.

    I lost all respect for the Clintons in this campaigna nd wouldn't vote for them as dog catcher. Oh but she misspeaks everyone else tells untruths? No one forgets being shot at or having to run for cover as she told that lie. Oh but she's 60 and sleepy. Not to mention the total state of chaos she's in and she's running up debts that she can't pay. That is unfair to those American business people that expect to get paid.

    I truly hope Hiliary's supporters become more objective and not by into this feminist rage HIliary has begun to incite. I hope she finds resolve within herself to admit Obama ran a better campaign and was more prepared bottom line. He surrounded himself with folks that knew and as far as Florida and Michigan go, their state reps broke the rules, their state reps did not want a revote and now they have to suffer. That is not Obama's doing and the Clintons should stop displacing the blame. They are the worse human beings.

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. NEVEREVER OBAMA

    HA HA – I AM SO GLAD HILLARY IS STILL IN THIS RACE!

    WAKE UP OBAMAMANIACS YOU'VE BEEN STOOPED!

    YOUR GUY IS NOT THE VESSEL OF CHANGE BUT THE VESSEL OF LIES AND CONTROVERSY.

    HILLARY TAKE IT TO THE CONVENTION

    *** CNN – PLEASE TAKE OBAMA, MICHELLE AND ROLAND FAR WAY FROM US – WE BEG YOU!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Kelly

    Please let's nominate Hillary and stop the insanity! I can't believe anyone would go to a church when they were going to be preached hate week after week. Really missing the point!

    May 30, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. I'm A Regan Dem

    Please give it a rest. The Catholic League knows Pfleger's remarks are not the views of Barack. If you don't want to vote for Barack then don't; just stop with the stupid attempts to paint him as some sort of suspicious and radicale person that can't be allowed to lead the nation.

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Victoria

    The Catholic League is an influential non-partisan organization that says its mission is to protect the free-speech rights of Catholics "whenever and wherever they are threatened."

    Oh really? Does that include Pfleger, even though his statements are ludicrous?

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Michael

    The Catholic League is emphasizing that people should ostracize people because they say things that certain segments of the population might find objectionable. I am not sure where Jesus condones this retribution.

    Clearly, Obama is a better Christian than The Catholic League.

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. The Deeper Thinker

    Here we go!! Who released this video? Was it H.C camp? But, I'm happy this time it's a Catholic priest and not Rev. Wright. Now what does America do? Nothing!!! Please with the B.S.! Anyone who is knows anything about history knows that the Catholic Church was one of the most corrupt organizations in the world in the Mid Ev times. Even now when Catholic priest sleep with young boys, I don't see any Catholics switching religions!!! So save it. Is Father Pfleger still a Catholic priest? Yes!! Does or did The Catholic League know he was controversial evangelical pastor? Yes!! Did they strip him of his Black and White collar? NO!!! So why point fingers at Barack? First Amendment rights "Freedom of Speech". Barack has no control over what people say do so! If Cnn say's hey go get the flu shot do we all run out and get it? No!! So what makes people believe that this pastors word have any effect on what Barack thinks and believes!! He's winning and people want change and that’s all that counts!!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Paul, Riverside, CA

    Wow, if only the Catholic Church was as upset about Priests molesting children then they would have a case here.

    Point is, What Pfleger said was funny and true, and I am CATHOLIC!!!

    They are upset with Obama for having ties to Pfleger for years, but the Catholic Church hid their Priests or transferred them between churches if molestation charges were brought up for much, much longer.

    Besides, I thought Jesus taught about forgiveness. Or did the Catholic Church feel that people should only forgive IT for the attrocities commited towards humanity for over 800 years. Sleeping in bed with the Devil again, eh?

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. CStone

    So Glad CNN chose to report this story. I fear it is just another piece of the rather sordid picture of Mr. Obama's questionable Chicago connections. His supporters may discover too late he was not who they thought he was.

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Erick FL

    Hilary will rin as an 3rd party Independent– Obama does not stand a chance.

    May 30, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    and again WHAT'S IT GOT TO WITH OBAMA?

    take a closer look at racist Ferraro and her crooked husband

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. J.S.

    If I was Obama, I wouldn't apologize, i'd tell all you Clinton toads to get bent. This get' more and more pathetic by the hour.

    White people get their feelings so hurt when people call them racists, or make fun of their race it's almost funny. Even funnier that other races deal with it daily, and you don't see people apologizing to them, why apologize?

    If people want to be little babies, I say F'em we've got enough babies in this country.

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Kensing James

    When John Hagee's so called controversial sermons were shown to the public, the Catholic League criticized the preacher, not John McCain. Why are they, in the case of their own preacher, criticizing Barack Obama? This group appears to be made up of hypocrites. Their motive can only be concluded to be sinister. This is not a non-partisan group, trust me.

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Dr. Truth, Boston

    keep up the distractions – way too go.

    can we have some reporting on all the lies McCain keeps getting caught in? Mr. "straight" talk can't seem to keep his stories straight.

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Rob

    Excellent article.wWere finally getting to know the real Obama................

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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