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. Bruce

    Sounds like Obama's chickens are coming home to roost. And the Democratic Party may have done to them what they did to the Republicans whenever Falwell, Robertson, et. al. spoke out. Unfortunate, since Wright and Pfleger talk about the problems of the past, and Obama is talking about the future.

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Richard in Houston

    Directing a $100,00.0 grant to Pfleger's community center doesn't sound like something Senator Obama would do. He isa fresh and exciting persona that is going to change the old ways in Washington and fight for the average person. If you believe all of this hype the I have a Bridge in Brooklyn for sell!!

    Go Hillary! If Obama is the nominee then this Liberal homosexual will vote McCain in November.

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. NoMcSame

    The Catholic church should have done their job and got rid of him if he is such a bad priest. Why blame Obama for what this man says and not the Catholic Church.
    The $100,000 is for the people not the man. The Catholic church takes money from the MOB and stole money and riches from every nation on the planet.
    Obama08
    PS Name something that Obama himself has done. All they talk about is people that he knows. Jesus hung out with theives, robbers and sinners of all kind so are you people going to change you religion?

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. truthurts

    well.....

    when you actually listen to Hillary make up new rules and ignore old ones to win the WH the guy has a valid point. Who else could get away with signing a contract then acting like it doesn't exist because they are losing?

    I must admit... after I saw the clip I laughed so hard I spit out my drink on my screen. The dude does not sound white but since he is you have to throw racism out the door on this one. It's pure comedy!

    It would be nice to also include the $250K Hillary donated to this guy.

    I expect more preachers to do the same... he is now a house hold name.

    When did preachers get so much clout?

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Edryn

    I am SICK of the " Pastor Pranks!" Please explain how this brings our gas prices down. I am very vested in my faith and only those that don't have real relationship with God will be swayed by this. I disagree with plenty of people all the time: my pastor, my boss, and my parents. It does not make me a mindless drone! Can we PLEASE move on!

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. SLIMSISTA

    OBAMA CAN NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT PEOPLE HE KNOWS SAYS...JUST LIKE HRC CAN'T BE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT GERALDINE FERRARO SAYS...IT BOTH THE SAME...

    STOP WITH THE RHETORIC.....

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Will

    Obama needs to leave that Church and go somewhere else. This kind of mess from his pastors will kill his campaign.

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. CWatson

    Not "appropriate" but the way Hillary has carried on, to be honest, I chuckled.

    I can't take this complaint too seriously.

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Michael

    Good God people as we have found out we can find controversy in every pastor in the United States; if you go to church you have a possible tie to a controversial pastor. This is really just out of control. I don't buy into the pastor controversy with McCain any more than I buy into this this...can you say "silly season"?

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Superdelegate Bob

    I don't get it. If Pfleger is such a horrible guy–which he seems to be–why doesn't the Catholic Church do something about him? They're criticizing Obama for hanging with one of their own?

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. mike in Pa

    Why is this guy being "linked" to Obama?

    May 30, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    THIS IS A CATASTROPHE !!!!!

    MOST OF US HERE ARE CATHOLIC & CALL US STUPID

    BUT WHEN DID SENATOR OBAMA GET ELECTED POPE ??

    WE ARE OLD & DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO WASTE.

    IF WE HAD KNOWN THAT, WE CERTAINLY WOULD NOT

    HAVE WORKED SO HARD TO ELECT HIM US PRESIDENT.

    IN THE LEAST THAT WOULD BE A BIT AWKWARD.

    May 30, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. ron

    I AM CATHOLIC AND I LIVE IN CHICAGO. I WONDER WHEN CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE IS GOING TO EMULATE BERNARD LAW AND SHIP THIS GUY, SAY, TO SIBERIA. HE'S PANDERING TO AN ELEMENT THAT IS IMPRESSIONABLE, IMPETUOUS AND NOT TOO BRIGHT. MANY OF US (CATHOLIC CHICAGOANS) JUST WISH HE'D GO AWAY.

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. laura b. (GA)

    sSdd, slow news day

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    Yeah right, why didn't the Catholic league keep him under control or fire him if he was that bad.

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Jodi

    It is ironic that the Catholic league is bashing Obama over THEIR priests. if they were so offended by this priest why did they not disrobe him years ago. HYPOCTITES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. BlueBirdofFoxHill

    "Who signed the agreement that MI and FL would not be allowed to seat delegates if they moved their primaries? Oh yes, Hillary Clinton." asks Pat.

    This is a very common accusation from Obama supporters. Please show me the agreement that Clinton signed stating that Florida and Michigan delegates should not be seated.

    This is the declaration they signed….

    I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as "campaigning" is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

    The word participate is vague and open to interpretation, but as stated, "Campaign" is defined by the rules and regulations of the DNC.

    Here's how the DNC defines campaigning…

    "Campaigning" for purposes of this section includes, but is not limited to, purchasing print, internet, or electronic advertising that reaches a significant percentage of the voters in the aforementioned state; hiring campaign workers; opening an office; making public appearances; holding news conferences; coordinating volunteer activities; sending mail, other than fundraising requests that are also sent to potential donors in other states; using paid or volunteer phoners or automated calls to contact voters; sending emails or establishing a website specific to that state; holding events to which Democratic voters are invited; attending events sponsored by state or local Democratic organizations; or paying for campaign materials to be used in such a state. The Rules and Bylaws Committee will determine whether candidate activities are covered by this section.

    Now let me see, who purchased "electronic advertising that reaches a significant percentage of the voters" in Florida? Who held a news conference in Florida?

    That would be Obama.

    Tell me again, WHO broke the rules???

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. ash

    Wow !! What is obama upto? Why does he have so many skeletons in his closet ? How many more are hidden?

    May 30, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. WHyblameObama

    Why blame Obama for his Pastor's mistakes?

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. ThinkSmart

    I swear people can make a connection out of anything. I think Im going to walk by Barack and say something dumb adn see how many times it gets circled in the media. people will say" why did they let that idiot get so close".

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. guy

    Obama apologized whereas Hillary never apologizes for what she says. Both white and black churches have pastors that say controversial stuff. The black church should not be singled out, there are white churces that do the same. There was a reference by a commentator on Morning Joe who said " Pfleger wants to be like a black minister". That was offensive, because it suggest that how all black ministers act. We do not hold alot of things personally. Pfleger comments have substance. If Obama was not running for president, most americans found this to be funny not racial. Come on did you laugh after you saw it a second time.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. gman

    They were quick to say something about Obama and this guy. But I have never heard naything from them about McShame and Rev. John Hagee. Let's ask them why not?....(sounds of crickets)

    Thought so...

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Brennan - Seattle, WA

    Catholic is Catholic. This just proves that the Catholic League is not for all Catholics and they have an agenda. They use their title like they speak for all Catholics but that is a fallacy.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. Will

    "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." "

    Except, of course, for ones they disagree with. Why does anybody listen to Bill Donohue? This man thinks Harry Potter is an evil satanic plot.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. bill pike

    bush and mccain get our soldiers killed and people get upset what others say not what the person says or does. as ross perot said, who the hell are they. focus on issues not what others do–havn't you been paying attention to the thousands of kids molested by priests???? do i blame God or the catholic church, of course not-they are individuals. well, so is this idiot.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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