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. Ralph

    Don't this give you Obamabots a clue to what an Idiot Obama is?????

    He is a nut case!! I hope the DNC has their eyes opened...Obama will never win in November!!

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  2. JC

    Obama is just another politician. Don't forget he cheated his way onto the Chicago ballot and divides not unites.

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Chi4Obama

    Ahhh,
    You gotta love Chicago Politics.

    May 30, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. RB

    OMG!!! Obama doesn't own the church! Is he forever going to be at fault for anything, any priest/pastor/rabi/guru/reverend ever says in this church? Get serious. This is funny....

    Let's move on?

    May 30, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Mike D. from San Diego

    two words my fellow Obama supporters….RALPH NADER
    What do I mean by this??? I’ll tell you.
    A small defection of liberals from the Democratic party to Nader probably cost the Democrats the White House in 2000. What do you think a defection of Hillary Clinton supporters could do? Perhaps the same thing?
    It appears that Obama is the nominee, but WE HAVEN”T WON ANYTHING!
    All of this taunting of Hillary Clinton’s supporters needs to stop NOW! We need every single vote come November. The cards are already stacked enough against Obama because of the race issue. We can’t afford to alienate anyone.
    Quit being a sore winner and extend your hand to your fellow Democrats who support Clinton or we can all sit together under four more years of McBush.

    May 30, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. Curious George

    SEN.OBAMA SHOULDN'T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE

    WHAT DID MINISTER PFLEGER SAY THAT WAS WRONG?

    SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME, BECAUSE ALL I HEARD FROM HIM & REV. WRIGHT WERE FACTS & THEORIES THAT ARE 99.9% TRUE.

    FOR THE RECORD

    "WHITE AMERICANS AGE 0-50 IT'S NOT OUR FAULT", WE'RE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR ANCESTORS MISTAKES.

    BUT WE SHOULDN'T CALL IT HATE AND DENY PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE U.S. WHEN THE TRUTH IS SPOKEN, OTHERWISE WE'RE NEVER GONNA CONQUER RACISM. THEY WE'RE SERIOUSLY DEALT A SUPER BAD HAND. THINK IF THE TABLES WERE TURNED.

    IF A GERMAN BORN CATHOLIC PRIEST CAN SEE THIS WHY CAN'T THE REST OF WHITE AMERICA!

    May 30, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. HH

    Who cares! Are we going to hold everyone that speaks at his curch responsible.

    ***** Obama does not even go to the church*********************

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. jim

    the catholic league protects free speech of catholics? then why is the president condemning a non-catholic for remarks by a cathloic priest? this is ridiculous.

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Louis

    Let's face the real issues. These Wright and Pfledger issues will not deal with the escalating price of gas, foreclosure problems and the war in iraq. Dont be fooled. These were not Obama's comments. Obama cannot be held responsible for what everyone he knows says.

    Lay this to rest once and for all.

    Obama for president.

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  10. Fredi

    The Catholic League would probably criticize Jesus himself – after all he was often hanging out with the "wrong" crowd – and ultimately got killed – by the religious people. If every hypocrite in this country would simply shut up for a while it would be very quiet round here ...

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. j

    Obama has no control over what this guy says or does. It's irrelevant.

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Carol Beatty

    I think it is high time that we all come to grips with the fact that O'Bama was indeed not born a twin nor was he born a triplet. He nor anyone else should have to apologize for something that never came out of his mouth. He can no more speak for Rev. Wright or Pope Pfleger than they can speak for him. Lay the blame at the right door step. If he has to apologize for them then Hillary Clinton should apologize for all the things that she and her constituents have said throughout this entire campaign. Call it a truce! Like Bill Clinton said "if you can't take a punch and move on then maybe you should take off the armor". Why should O'Bama be expected to lie down and take all the punches and crap that the Clinton's and others want to dish. It is no more fair for her and her constituents to play the race card than for anyone else. Fair is Fair!

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. Chris Smart

    Americans!

    What is wrong with us? Must we hold Obama responsible for anything said or done by anybody he knows? Does he write speeches and codes of conducts for all his acquintances?

    Instead of the catholic leagu to chasten (Catholic) Rev Michael Pfleger, they are pushing the blame to Obama! A lot of political undertones from this politically unaffiliated body.

    May 30, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. clbrune

    I tried to accept Obama's defense of Rev. Wright, while ignoring his failure to walk his talk (Wright does indeed express a social perspective, but Obama didn't have to sit and listen to it for 20 years).

    Now this, from his priest. What defense will he come up with THIS time?

    Unbelievable. Did Obama learn his moral values from this spiritual advisor, too?

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. K

    Wow, how will you all spin this for your annointed one? Seriously, I agree with all of them, us white people sure are stuck on stupid...especially when you support someone with such obvious hatred for you...go ahead vote the guy in office, you get what you deserve.

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Truth-Chicago

    Is Obama suppose to be responsible for everything everyone says?
    How many people do you know say things that you don't agree with but you are still friends? Come on!!! Is this the best you can come up with. Is this not America? Freedom of Speech!!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Ben

    No news CNN? Move ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. ed

    oh please,what else,people are tired of this nonsense,fix the economy for heavens sake

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Jeff Radun

    This is exactly why Obama is not electable.
    As The Catholic League says in this report.
    Why does he choose to hang with these two preachers in Mr Wright and Mr Pfleger.
    Two reasons.
    1) He has BAD JUDGEMENT
    2) He BELIEVES in what these 2 guys preach and believe in HATE
    The SUPERS better change their minds and nominate Hillary

    May 30, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. Shawn T

    The irony?

    What Pfleger said = 100% true.

    Lol!

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. kinglywarrior

    WHY, is Obama suddenly the "face" of every opinionated person who uses his name? This attempted media "lynching" is getting way out of hand. If I support Hillary and meet her at a rally, then go on later to say I hate (insert ethnic group), does that mean Hillary is racist or prejudiced? NO, but if it's Obama he MUST be linked to that person and their belief system, no WAY that priest or whomever is thinking their OWN individual thoughts.

    Well here is one of my individual thoughts: The media, driven by whatever back office group, is trying its hardest to discredit or ruin the man who appears to have priorities different from theirs. Can't sell fear and ignorance as easily to a "united" country...

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Puzzled

    I guess my question would be of all of the Priests in the Chicago Archdioces, how many of them are on the South Side of Chicago working with the poor? So I guess Obama is responsible for everything anybody he knows says. Is this not crazy or what?

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. LIZ KEESEE

    It's about Time somebody pointed out how devisive this is! Unite the nation??

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. texan

    It is very disturbing to have a man with so many ties to people that hate white people hate America and hate everything overall, and have this man running for the highest position in our government and be called our Commander in Chief and Mr. President, I hope and pray to GOD this man not be elected President of the U.S.A. and as the saying goes ( Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are).

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. john williams san diego, ca.

    liberal racists priest like pfleger are the reason i left the church but not the religion. he's preaching his way into hell.

    May 30, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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