May 30th, 2008
04:32 PM ET
7 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. Art

    Obama, why don't you "change" the democrat party to be called the Black Liberation party?

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. esq

    please explain to me what a catholic priest has to do w/ this campaign?

    1. he is not Mr. obama's priest (Mr. obama is protestant not catholic)
    2. Mr. obama has not been in church
    3. He is not a preacher at the church. He is a guess
    4. His comments were striking and too much but come on! "hatefull?" Please?
    5. Do some people believe that Sen Clinton has a sense of entitlement? if so, on what basis just she feel entitled. Seniority? Marital status? Gender? Race? all of the above?
    6. If someone believes that some of Sen. Clinton sense of entitlement comes from race, is that person hateful?

    We really should start having honest conversations in this county. Everything that is stated is then labeled hateful or outrageous, which keeps us from discussing the merits of maybe outrageous, maybe truthful comments.

    Too bad Mr. obama is running because we can't have this convo as long as a black man is running for pres.

    BTW: Would we even know about this if it weren't for fox news and the rest of the right wing nuts?

    God bless America!! Obama 08 (God willing)

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Gwen NC

    there all peas in a pod apparently, Obama just doesn't let it show like the others do, they are simply surrogates for what he really is inside. We are in for big trouble with this man. America and Black Americans deserve an honest candidate one who is what he claims to be not a fake like Obama. Where's Colin Powell and Michael Steele. Even though those 2 are republicans I wouldn't hold it against them, they are both great Americans who happen to be black and they would have my vote. They have the experience and the character.

    May 30, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Jefferson Williams

    This latest episode clearly manifest the Racisim that excist in this church. Why is CNN protecting this Racist Obama, aka Muslim?It is clear the left wing Control freaks are going to try to shove this Racist Obama in the lead no matter what the voters think. If Obama is in this church of racist, he must be of them. Why is this not discussed in length. If all this Racism of Obama and his church was made evident in the beginning, this undercover muslim would ne ver have made it to where he is now. Anybody that believes that Obama is any less racist than the 2 fools of leaders shown so far. It is further clarifying to see all the choir members and church members high fiveing each other. If Obama is in them then he is of them.

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Rita Carlson

    This man actually had people cheering him on during his sermon, bereating white people. How sad is that. At my church, I firmly believe that if that was a black preacher saying the same thing to a predominately white congregation about black people........the congregation would all walk out. There would not be people clapping, standing up cheering and laughing. There would be sadness in our hearts. God is all about love, loving one another. And what it looked like to me is that Pfleger was preaching about hatred and anger.

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Jane, College Park, MD

    Ouf Founding Fathers were so right when they said there must be a separation of Church and State.

    Why does the Catholic League not say something regarding Sen Clinton's priest who is now locked up? Why don't they just stick with preaching the Bible?

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Terri Bell

    I wonder where Senator Obama finds his advisors!! I would also like to know why the congregation at that church finds this kind of preaching so entertaining

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Ms. Smith

    Let's see if this story has any legs, as the primary is over next Tuesday.

    I am so tired of these silly men (on both sides of the aisle) with collars who haven't figured out the true message of Christ.

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Christy from PA

    Who cares? Gee, I paid $80 to fill my gas tank today, which in the not-too-distant past use to cost $35.00. I DON'T CARE WHAT THESE WACKOS SAY! What's worse, this guy is not and was not his pastor. What's next? I know... tomorrow's breaking news will be some theif who used the same bathroom as Obama in 2006 at the LAX and ONLY two hours later this theif robbed a liquor store. OMG!!! I bet the media would force Obama to answer to that as well!

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Jane, College Park, MD

    Our Founding Fathers were so right when they said there must be a separation of Church and State.

    Why does the Catholic League not say something regarding Sen Clinton's priest who is now locked up? Why don't they just stick with preaching the Bible?

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. If not Hillary....then McCain

    Seems as though there is a central theme to Obama's campaign stumbles....very unsettling and very divisive. The ultimate race card HE is playing is that the DNC won't take a nomination away from a Black man...and he knows it. Regardless of the outcome of the GE, this is affirmative action at it's finest. I did not think of myself as racist at all, until recently...when I heard the hate and racism coming from Trinty Church through it's Pastors. I agree that racism in any form is wrong, however, in this primary election it has reared it's ugly head time and time again...from the Obama camp. It seems the bitter people that cling to religion, might in fact be the Obamas. There is no explanation for their continued (20 + years) support of Rev. Wright, Trinity, and Father Pfleger...just to name a few...unless they adhere to these philosophies that are a common thread through all of them.

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. JLH

    Looks like the Billarys have bought themselve another organization. So this organization claims to exist to protect free speech rights huh? Funny, isn't that just what this pastor was doing, whether you agree with him or not.
    And while we're at it, a lot of Catholics need to look in a rather large mirror before criticizing and lecturing anyone about choosing their priest.

    May 30, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. Gwen NC

    Pfleger is doing this because Wright has been told to keep quiet

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Eric

    Wright and Pfleger are racists. These men and their misguided ideals are evil to the core. Barack Obama has repeatedly referred to these men as his mentors. How far does the apple fall from the tree?

    I was formerly in support of Barack Obama, but now am terrified by what his idea of 'change' in Washington might look like. I'll definitely be voting for McCain if Obama still wins the nomination.

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. nerakami

    "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."
    ====================================================

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this a CATHOLIC PRIEST? Why then did the Catholic Church NOT de-frock him before now ????
    Sounds oh so hypocritical and politically expedient to jump on the band wagon which by the way, has the Catholic Church scribbled all over it.

    I tell you this, all this pastor drama... from the left and right affirms for the rest of us who refuse to engage in organized religion .... we are free from the mental slavery ... fully engaged in spirit

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. seah

    Obama Brushed it off as nothing.

    The racist, hatred spewed from his church again, against a fellow democrat and Senator.

    I can not believe he was not outraged.

    Then I remembered, He lived this stuff for over 20 years, His closest personal friends are like this for real. The ones who taught him and helped him, they were his mentor.

    So he beleives in it and not to upset by it since he is use to it.

    It is in his heart, mind and soul.

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Bill

    Honestly...what the heck is wrong with Obama? Other politicians have connections with and endorsements from questionable characters, but Obama has 20-year relationships with absolute lunatics who serve as his spiritual mentors. I'm getting an impression of a young man who bounced around a lot growing up and desperately needed to have his identity drawn with strong lines borrowed from older men, probably because his "real" (black) dad abandoned him. He's learned to paint a very nice shell over himself, and he found a speaking style that stands out, but what exactly is underneath? There's no rational basis, yet, for a voter to trust him.

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. BJE

    How does one go about finding a level headed preacher in this country?

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. WendyinCalif

    Bush and his group of "soon to be if not already" felons are not the kind of people one should piss off. Leaking a CIA operatives name while she was undercover working in anti-terrorism tactics was eventually going to get her killed and don't you think for one god dam second that bush and the boys did not realize it.

    These men are dangerous and why impeachment laws are in place.

    The founding fathers must be turning over in their graves.

    Get these men out of Wash or at least null and void their power before they send the U.S. into war with Iran in response to Israel's hysterical propaganda.

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. LuLu

    Huh? What? How is this Obama's fault that some preist made some inappropriate comments? Even if it was at Obama's church, and Obama has known him before, how is this now Obama's fault? Isn't this the preist's fault alone? Or maybe the Catholic church's problem? I don't get how this became Obama's problem. Weird.

    May 30, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. james

    Obama is connected to a lot of people with a troubling history, especially when it comes to clergy. Another clergyman he has know for 20, years. Hillary 08, If not McCain, then Hillary 2012

    May 30, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. one nation under god!!!!

    I just have to state the obvious.The first black president will be a republican.Not a liberal playing the victim card.

    May 30, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Marshall

    I said I won't write again. Well, I am back. After doing some research, I hope Hillary takes this as far as she can. When she finally loses, I hope the rest of you loser write her name in the ballot. The more votes you fools give Hillary the easier you make it for McCain to win. The longer this goes the better it gets for the Democrats to lose the majority they won in the house and senate. I am calling it today May 30th at 3:58 PM CST, There will be another Republican President in January, this time with a Republican majority in congress. We will owe that to Hillary and her childish supporter and Barak and his childish supporter. So keep playing the name calling game and take the fight for your candidate to the streets. Maybe and nice Clinton lead Riot will help your case. Thanks you again for handing the control of the country back to the Republicans.

    May 30, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. evelyn

    I thought all Catholics were in favour of Hillary. Pfleger spoke what he felt and should not be blamed on Obama just because he knew in the past and the semon took place in the church where Obama worshipped. Pfleger is an adult and should be reponsible for his Actions.

    May 30, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. BJE

    Wow, it's almost as if Hillary is right, she is more electable

    May 30, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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