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

Obama takes heat from Catholic League over Pfleger

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Hollis

    Sorry...but the Catholic church is the LAST organization that should be judging ANYONE with their history of child abuse by hundreds of their clergy and the coverup by numerous bishops. Give us a break.
    Remove the PLANK from your own eye first, then you will be able to see clearly enough to remove the speck of dust from you brother's eye.

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  2. Robert

    So the Catholic League is wondering why Obama hasn't disowned Pfleger? The bigger question is why haven't the Catholics?

    The League is supposedly there to fight for the free speech rights of Catholics. Apparently only those they agree with.

    This guy was a guest speaker at the church Obama used to attend. Unless he is in on the planning of who is invited to speak, I'd say the media is once again unfairly tying him to a controversial religious figure. Give it a rest!

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Matthew

    This isn't real news. Do people actually care about this kind of non-topic, still??

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. Laidetea

    I thought it was a comedy show.

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Mary

    This time it was a “Catholic” priest. A few years ago it was many Catholic priests/Bishops that was controversial. Earlier this year it was Evangelical pastors.
    It was the Tele-Evangelists before that. Baptists, Methodists, ……

    It seems as though all religious groups are doing this. Were all in it together.

    Come to think about it, my own church has said something that “someone” for sure is going to find controversial.

    So we all now need to leave our churches so that everyone is happy?

    Give me a break!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. eph

    Obama 08
    Obama 08
    Obama 08
    Obama 08

    Obama 08

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. James, SC

    Senator Obama is an evil man. He should have teamed up with a child molester Priest in stead of this community activist with an opinion!

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Hoping

    Was it irresponsible what Pfleger said? Of course. He's probably embarrased that he lost his cool and came out with stupidities. However, I do not see what this has to do with Barack Obama. It does not mean that he is saying this. I'm sure he is a critical thinker who can think for himself.

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  9. Dee, Tx

    Whatever CNN.....

    May 30, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  10. judi of michigan


    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. Linda R. in Woodbridge, VA

    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!



    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  12. POTUS?

    1. No experience...
    2. Bad Judgment for 20 years with Rev. Wright.
    3. Even worse judgment with the new " Father"


    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. Maxwell

    Why is it that everyone who speaks negatively about someone, you all just pounding it on Barack Obama. Look, I am a very nice guy and I am for Obama. Please advertise that on CNN.

    This man has nothing to do with Obama, he just wants attention and you gave it to him. he knew all eyes were on that church and he played you all like a fool.

    Come on Jack you know better!

    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  14. Paulinus


    Obama is not responsible for the action of this Monkey. Why should he be tried to it? Pfleger and Hillary should settle that personally between them. Obama is no longer going to this church.

    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. Terry

    It is amazing to me how people can even considered voting for Obama. Of the millions and millions of people in the US this is the best we can come up with?? You can either vote for a man who is too old to be president or vote for Obama a man who is just learning and doesn't have any experience. Though Hillary can't be trusted she is the best of the three. By next week she will be out!!!!!!
    Our country is in BAD shape and the young voters are pushing Obama making him the front runner. I have some news for the Obama supporters a speech doesn't make a president. If Obama wins all who voted for him will regret it in 6 months to a year. All I can say is who ever is the vice president better be good to educate Obama. I will write in my vote for Hillary in November just like most of the Hillary supporters. I cannot look myself in the mirror and say I made the correct choice to vote for McCain or Obama

    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. United against Obama

    Enough already, if this doesn't convince catholics to abandon Obama then nothing will. Catholics of America unite and lets lead the charge to prevent Obama and his smack talking croonies from taking the white house.

    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Ty

    Who cares this is not even worth mentioning.

    May 30, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Mandy

    I actually thought I was watching a Saturday Night Live Skit. That show has made comments such as "racist, hardworking white people, ect..," and many find it funny. This is just a case of who the messenger is. I actually think what he said was true.

    May 30, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Dee Tee Gee Arlington, TX

    Bill Donahue said this priest has a troubling past. Think he could be more specific? Anybody can say that about anybody, that they have a troubled past. Can we get some details, please? So Obama's responsible for this guy too? So if I ever decide to run for president, I'm going to have to get rid of every person I know who has said or done something wrong. I don't think I'll live long enough to get rid of all those people. Again, if you don't like Obama, then don't like him. If you don't want to vote for Obama, then don't. But can't we move on from this kindergartenish behavior, people just sitting around waiting for any little thing to jump on him for. Obama couldn't control what came out of Pfleger's mouth or Wright's mouth. Hillary Clinton couldn't control what came out of Geraldine Ferraro's mouth, & John McCain couldn't control what came out of John Hagee's mouth. We've all sat around someone who said awful things & didn't get up and leave. You won't admit it, but you have. What's next, someone going to tell us that Barack Obama went around the corner and farted. Boy, that'll make me switch my vote. Are people that easily influenced, that the slightest thing makes them change their mind? Gee whiz!!

    May 30, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Irene M.

    The Catholic League is itself a conservative political ally of McCain and of course accepted Hagee's apology and do not hold McCain responsible for Parsley or Hagee etc... but still beat the drum on ONE OF THEIR OWN Priests...and hold Obama responsible for what he says from the pulpit?


    May 30, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  21. truth

    Just another news payed from Hillary...

    May 30, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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