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. Rick

    Another White America hating "clergy" that Obama goes back 20 years with. Are there any more excuses from the Obamites?


    Hillary '08

    May 30, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. kevin from alaska

    She did cry like an entitled white woman in New Hampshire. it made me sick. Her supporters make me sick. Good riddance.

    May 30, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. johnny reb

    Give it a REST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Chip in Puerto Rico



    OBAMA '08 & '12

    May 30, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. me in md

    Why? What does Barack have to do with what Pfleger says? Why is Barack responsible for what everyone else says and Hillary isn't?

    May 30, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Mary Sue

    What more does the Catholic League want Obama to do? He issued a statement immediately.

    The Catholic League sounds like it has an agenda to me. If Pfleger were so bad (and it sounds like he is), why hasn't the Pope ex-communicated him BEFORE this incident?

    May 30, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Will in Richmond, VA


    Politics and religion should never ever mix.

    Never Ever.

    May 30, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Brandon

    Interesting that Catholics stood by molesting preists for decades, but one that says a few controversial things is enough to elicit a statement from the catholic league? weird

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. judy

    Why not outrage at Hagee, McCain's whatever?

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Bob Stephens

    Oh give it a break. Every time a preacher says something now, it is Barack's fault. McSame tells lies everyday and yet the press ignores them because they are afraid to ruffle the feathers of the Administration and their cronies.

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. James

    Enough of this religion stuff.

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. GI JOE

    Troubling history? The Catholic League needs to read their history of Father Pfleger, he has been the biggest champion for the plight of the downtrodden in Chicago. Its because of these right wing racist Catholics that I am ashamed sometimes of having Roman Catholic on my dog tags. Father Pfleger is not divisive, he is by far the most open minded and caring pastors that I have ever met. If the Church was staffed by men of his cloth, then perhaps we could truly have a Church of service to Humanity.

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Shari

    This is such a non-issue, that it isn't even funny! We are paying 4 dollars in gas, food prices are getting ready to go up even though they are starting to soar already, unemployment is getting worse, airlines are doing so poorly that they are going to start charging for the "extras" such as bringing on more baggage not to mention that they are going to eliminate the free snacks, our men are dieing in a war that has proven to be a no win situation and one that we were lied into supporting and this is what makes the headlines??????????????????????? Give me a break!

    May 30, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. Ex-Democrat in Iowa

    Just another page in our perfect Obama's book. He's a liar, hipocrite, and flat out the wrong person to lead this country.

    Read the story about he muscled his way into becoming a Senator in Chicago in 1996 – legally but unethically – removing any competition from running against him.

    A different kind of polics? I think not. You Obamabots are so blinded by his speaches you won't see the real light.

    Hillary supporters: We have to stop this man from getting into office. Join me and half of the democratic party to either write her in, or vote McCain.

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. obama =supporter==ARKANSAS

    get over it he is not that preachers keeper
    good lord what has this frecken world come to

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. sky

    Get a life, we are trying to save the planet here. How could the Catholics be outraged over anything right now.....throw the first stone and all that jazz......seems these guys have NO room to talk about anyone.

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Kevin

    so- Obama is a Christian..he seems to have ties with many he is a Christian, right?

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. Terry

    I'm sick of preachers.
    What happens to the separation of church and state?

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Marc PDX

    I'm really getting tired of the anti-white rhetoric that keeps coming out of Barak Obama's church. REALLY TIRED!

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. bill in pa

    Here we go again. Every church should lose their tax exempt status for sticking their noses into politics. Did Obama say anything? No. So why doesn't this loudmouth criticize the priest that said it?

    May 30, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. The O

    Did Obama say it? NO so shut the hey up! So what about Hagee??
    what about what he said. what Hypocrates you guys are!!!!!!!


    BARACK THE VOTE!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. wycliffe, NJ

    i am a catholic and I will say SHAME ON you Donahue for participating in partisan politics

    May 30, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Norb

    I guess this priest is worse than all those convicted of molesting young boys?

    May 30, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. Pedeen

    This is stupid!! whatever pastors says however good or bad Obama have no control over their speeches!!. This is nonses and its not supposed to be news!!

    May 30, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. EJ


    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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