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. what a joke !

    I am ashamed with the catholic church on that matter.

    They re the ones who should have reject him as a priest.

    Pls, it is so obvious that this pastor bs is created on purpose to bring disgrace upon Obama. At every critical moment in that Primary, some pastor shows up with some trash. And every one expect Barack to explain why these guys are suddenly acting so wierd !


    Dont be fooled people....

    May 30, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. John, OH

    Yo, I'd like to speak as an Obama supporter and say that Obama is very sorry for not having a 5-dimensional space-brain that lets him know that one of his manifold supporters is a jerk before said supporter makes any comments about the race.

    I'm really sorry to everyone who was offended. I hope we can put this behind us.

    May 30, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Lisa

    Why hasn't anyone made Senator Clinton apologize for her hurtful and divisive words?

    May 30, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Sergio

    While the organization may claim to be non-partisan, it's obvious that Donohue is partisan if he is capable of attributing Father Pfleger's commenst to Barack Obama.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Keena McGowan

    News Flash CNN Staff/Reporters/Viewers

    Senator Obama does not have a "congregation" nor does he have "a church"- he was a "member" of Trinity Church of God in Christ, and is not responsible for remarks/sermons/statements from other individuals.

    Please make the needed adjustments when reporting on this story.

    Obama 08'
    Yes We Can!

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. John Smith

    This reflects a priest of a CATHOLIC CHURCH, not Obama. Why?

    Only one person volunteered to carry the SINS of the other– Jesus Christ.

    I am a Catholic, and I can never take responsibility for what a Priest or even a Pope does. Is this what this nation has come down to?

    Can we "abandon" women because of Geraldine Ferraro's nasty comments about BLACKS?

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Bob

    My question would be, who doesn't have a troubling history? I get tired of Europeans trying to bleach the earth as if no one has a skeleton in the closet. When will we learn that there are no perfect candidates. Somehow having a minority president tends to threaten the idea that Europeans are supposed to be in power, or other words of those references to Clinton, entitlement. This is the basic reason why change is necessary and well overdue.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Dr. Sam

    The effort by the Catholic League, some sections of the media and some people (who are not Obama supporters in the first place) to link Obama to this tirade is so unfair that reasonable people all across America will reject it. Obama cannot be held responsible for what others choose to say–it is a free country! Show me instead what Obama himself said, now and and in the past, that is unacceptable. We must condemn those who try to divide us; but their statements stand or fail on their own.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Shannon

    I am SICK of CNN's coverage of this RIDICULOUS story. Let's try some FAIR AND BALANCED reporting and have at least one story on McCain being absolutely incompetent on the fact with regards to the war in Iraq. Your station sat there for two days and wondered why McClellan said the media didn't ask ANY tough questions on the lead up to the war in Iraq. YOU ARE THE REASON. Instead of seriously questioning the surge in Iraq and our continued presence You would rather make an issue of a pastor who says something stupid. This is a NONSTORY. OUr children dying over there for a civil war incited by false premises that were voted in by McCain-Clinton-BUSH is a story.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. bvd

    Obama supporters are too drown by the koolaids to see the light. Of all the great church in Chicago, he had to pick TUCC. Don't you see a pattern here, you blinded Obama supporters. TUCC is nothing but a racist church that preaches hates toward white. There's no place for this in America.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Rich

    I don't know what Pfleger was thinking making these comments. Still, it seems rather silly to hold Obama accountable for them, especially after he has openly criticized and disagreed with them.

    In other news, Obama now leads Clinton, for the first time, by over 200 delegates. He also has the support of 50 more super delegates than her. Clinton enjoyed a 100 super-delegate lead early on, and she is the one who's sole hope lies in getting super-delegates to rally behind her despite the pledged delegates.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. GoHillary

    This is a dangerous group of people. The fact that OBAMA has diverted our taxes to these fanatics is even more worrying.

    What benefits are they likely to receive from having one of their ilk in the Whiteouse?

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. Brian, NJ

    Between Reverend Wright and this guy, does anyone still think he's really a Muslim???

    Hillary staying with Bill is still worse than this stuff in my opinion.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. America

    When do you suppose CNN will make the final move to change their name to FOX? Just curious since they immitate everything they do just so rednecks (blue collar workers) will watch their network? I guess CNN is just taking after Hillary taking after FOX taking after the GOP. Nothing new under the sun I suppose.

    PS: How do the CNN owners sleep at night?

    A: Very comfortably right next to their blank check from the GOP.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Val

    Ooops! I did it again.

    This man (Obama) if elected president, God forbid, will destroy our country. Look at the people he is surrounded by: Rev. Wright, Father Pfleger, Bill Ayres, Daily Kos and (two most liberal groups in America), and the list goes on and on.

    Please NObama!

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. John Cruz

    I cannot understand why Sen. Obama has to be accountable for whatever those in the podium of his church says? It's like blaming all of us for what President Bush says.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. Ken B

    Obama didn't say it...unfortunately Father was wrong and unfortunately he was sarcastic in the wrong setting...sooooooo lets put it on SNL and sell commercials.

    May 30, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Dana H. Bay Area CA

    I think the Catholic league needs to look at their own church before they start criticizing other churches with their child molestations issues. Oh wait, he is part of their church. Hmmm I don't know whether to yell at them for blaming Obama for this idiots remarks or praise them for going after one of their own. This is still not something the Obama has said himself and he denounced it. This priest also apologized. The same could also be said for McCain. Why did he actively seek out these two pastures that were well known for their neo Natzi thinking. That just goes to show psychotic McCain is.

    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. Sal in Phoenix

    Another 20 year relationship with a religous hate monger...the more I learn of Barak Obama, the more I don't like him..he talks out of both sides of his mouth..I wonder what's out there that we haven't heard about yet..2 reasons not to vote for him: 1. he's deceitful and 2. he's inexperienced..the majority of his time in the U.S. Senate has been campaigning...what are we letting ourselves in for?

    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Independent


    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. NickNas

    Obama is Home free if the Best these people can do it Hack at him because of what somebody ELSE says.

    Funny though.................. The Preacher who said all of that horrible stuff and is connected to McCain was almost INSTANTLY Forgiven and wiped out of the headlines.

    THIS guy (not an endoreser or anything) IS ALL Over the Press with pictures and Video.

    Who was saying everything is equal when it comes to Obama???? Oh thats right....... all of the people who want to destroy him.

    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. DC in California

    Oh, come on. Anyone can say anything, that doesn't mean Obama endorses it.

    George Bush doesn't know nuclear from NUKULAR but you all made him president .... TWICE.

    How do you know someone didn't pay that guy to say that? You don't.

    I'll be the first to walk away from Obama WHEN HE SAYS IT. But look at what Clinton actually said herself... the total LIES about being under sniper fire. The woman LIED, yet somehow her supporters think that is OK. I'm not saying she lied - I don't have to. SHE admitted it... but only after trying to excuse it every other way she could think of.

    You guys looking for some sort of excuse why Obama shouldn't win over Clinton are pathetic. Like giant group of sulky, pouting babies.

    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Kentucky

    I don't remember this much excitement when McCain's two ministers made dumb statements. These candidates cannot control people that support them. Give us a break this is not news – this is gossip. Report on how Clinton is trying to steal her way to becoming the Dem candidate. If they give it to her I and millions will not vote this November – She Cannot and Will Not win – We will congratulation McCain.

    May 30, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Nija

    This society has become so hepocritical. Nobody has seen God unless you are God. Why do have to hate to make your point. Nobody is right not even one. This is the time we have to come together as one and love each other because we are of one source. We are of Same spirit in different bodies. I hope we will all learn from what has evolved from this election. Becareful of what you say becuase it will come back and hunt you. Obama, Hilary and McCain supporters LOVE EACH OTHER our children are watching. Please I beg of YOU

    May 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Black Republican-on-fence, New York, New York

    Let me see if I get this right. Pfleger is a WHITE Catholic priest who makes some political gaffes and instead of the Catholic Church focusing on ITS PRIEST, it is attacking Barack Obama for what the Catholic priest says? What gives?

    The Catholic Church that covered up for years all the sexual abuse by priests against impressionable boys should recoil in humility rather than jump ugly with Obama who said nothing negative about the Catholic Church.

    May 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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