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. J. Warren

    My God. The media is wrong again. The guest speaker did not deliver those comments in front of "Obama's congregation". When did obama become the pastor of the church? Is Obama suppose to write all the pastors sermons in America?

    May 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. Tom

    Couldn't agree more with the Catholic League. And for it's part, perhaps the church might want to think about excommunicating him or whatever it is they do?

    May 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Tina W

    I think this incident and the Rev. Wright's incidents should not reflect so strongly on Obama. How many of us go to church and disagree with something the pastor says but we still find ourselves there the next Sunday? I attend church regularly and often find myself disagreeing with my pastor but I still go to church there because of the friendships.
    We are not going to agree on every issue with all of our friends, family, church member, or any other acquaintances of ours. These criticisms are coming from people who are looking for reasons to dislike Obama.

    May 30, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. Sissy2004

    Again, why is this Obama's message? This has nothing do with him nor should it be pinned on him like a badge. It sad to see that people who are suppose to be hollier than thou are blinded by their own personal gains (which is a hillary supporter). Obama I hope you don't feel the need to defend the actions of this pastor because it is not your responsibility to police the personal views of those you know who you may have come in contact with. Get over it people!

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

    CNN I really hope you would just one time post my comment. So here we go again with this Obama preacher fiasco. I agreed with alot of what Rev W said and i also agree with what rev Pfleger was saying. Some just cant handle the truth and thats just that! 1. She does and have always felt she was entitled, well i guess she was wrong. Im white and im bills wife, i could hear that bs coming out of her mouth right now. The real issue I have with all of this BS is this. Gas is over four dollars a gallon, 115 soldiers last year alone committed suicide, along with millions of innocent iraq's being killed. People are losing their homes in record numbers and yall want to cry for this B**** who is changing the rules day by day. I cant wait until its over for her as im so sick of her and red as bill whining about unfair treatment. Just like rev wright said she dont know a dam thing about being treated unfairly are you kidding me. And what about all the stuff she has said about BO. I know alot of you are not ready to see a black man in office, but when the lord is for you the racist wicked world can be against you and you will still prosper. And for those of you who say you will vote for McCain over Obama go for it, im sure it will be your home or childs life next. Obama-08

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. BJE

    Now that Obama has been connected with "God Hates Hillary" ministries, it's going to become a bit harder for him to attack the religious right

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Jim

    Well, well, well! What do we have here? Another Obama scandal about religion and race? Funny that Americans haven't caught on to that connection between Obama and the strange people he wants to parade into the White House! Religion fine, but what kind? Extremists? His friends and family dragging white people through the mud? Anti-American speeches by his pastor Wright?

    I think the superdelegates had better get their act together as well as the DNC and get Hillary the nomination as soon as possible so we can move on to beating McCain and winning the White House.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. derrick

    America is a messed up country.

    I can't believe a church full of pedophiles will have the guts to redicle a preist that is just cracking a joke....while they hide and defend catholic preist tht are pedophiles.

    Wow....if you love your kids (that is if you are not a pedophile youself); please don't have Catholic priest around them.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Canadian not far from the usa border

    Just saw the video on TV, wow I don't remember having so much fun watching this kind of videos! It is only truth, but Obama has nothing to do with that, even if that pastor endorses him. The campaigners are not responsible of everything said by all the people who endorse them!

    Hilary what's happening ? you can not stand the heat of the campaign?

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  10. A.C

    Here we go again!!! People don't be fooled by this junk. It's one man's wild option.... along with the media and the radical right trying once again tie this man's point of view to Sen. Obama.....As if

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. John, Brooklyn, NY

    It is unfortunate and troubling that the Catholic League is expecting Barack Obama to censor (and censure) is acquaintances because they don't conform to Vatican orthodoxy. The Catholic League appears to be supportive of freedom of speech, as long as that speech is not directed as critical of them or the Vatican.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. we the people

    yes, because pfleger is responsible for an immoral war and $4 gas and rampant government corruption :/

    i'm glad the biggest news network in the free world has it's priorites straight*

    obama has already renounced rejected and repudiated, and pfleger has apologized; what more must be done to satisfy the spinmeisters at cnn?

    *that was sarcasm; someone please explain it to the continually clueless anderson cooper

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. nwillis

    Obama can't be responsible for everthing that others say. If that were the case we would have to disown our own family members.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. Henry Quintero

    THere a lot of saying in this world and it all depends who say them and who listen to them. To say that Obama's views and thoughts are the same that these preachers in questions is simple ridiculous. THe same will apply to any candidate. YOu can not stop any one for saying anything. This is a free world. However, these people just have a bad jugment when opening their big mouth.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. ACH

    What I find amazing is Hillary can say anything and it’s over looked. “We all know what happened in”. But anyone remotely connected to Obama he has to defend, denounce or reject. Those where someone else’s words not Obama words. And for the record what Father Pfleger said was true.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Candy West Virginia

    The man simply told the truth.

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Chi4Obama

    I'm from Chicago, and don't know a whole about Father Pfleger. Nor do I really care to.

    But I do know that my tax dollars are being spent on a never-ending war in Iraq. And that my salary increases, are not keeping up with never ending rises in the price of gas / food. These are the real issues that I care about….

    (Note to CNN moderator. I am duplicating this comment due to a typo in my initial post).

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Love Huckabee

    Stop making issues over things he did not say.

    Clinton gaffes are in the news for 2 mintues. CNN is for Clinton.

    She's a liar, and lies straight from her mouth, but Obama has to come out and rebuke was someone else says?

    What about the issues. I wish Hillary, Rush Limbaugh, and Hannity would take a trip to hades!

    May 30, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. phyllis smith

    PlThat just goes to show what type of person Obama is. I do not think these are coincidences. I think he thinks the same as his Pastor and Pfleger. He just knows that it does not say anything positive about him and being that he's running for President. I believe him and his wife feel the same as the people the attend church with. I'm a Black Woman and I feel this way about Obama isn't anyone else saying and paying attention to any of this? phyllis smith.

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

    The Catholic League is one guy sitting in his mom's basement blogging. Call me when the Pope or the Chicago Arch Diocese makes a statement.

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Jessica, GA

    Obama's Chicken are coming home to roast. Race is a hot topic in this country, what he said is understandable but white folks don't wanna hear that. Anyways, we are starting to crucify our church leaders.

    Obama 08.

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  22. Why Obama Has Many Divisive Friends?

    Very divisive and hatred! Please seriously think about why Obama has hang out with Pfleger for that many years.

    Wake up people!

    Vote for Hillary or McCain

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Archie H.

    What a dog and pony show this has been! Please end it and realize that neither of these two have the credentials to be President!

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Michael Ryan

    Its getting scary to think who will make up Obama's administration if he gets the presidency......Clinton has many faults......but as they saying goes 'better the devil you know than the devil you dont'.

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. real talk tee

    I am so tired of bull crap making it to the news. Who really cares what him, Geraldine Ferraro, or anyone not trying to help our economy, bring the troops home, has to say. Let's get out nominee Barack Obama going so we can start the recovery process. We the people are so tired of these unimportant stories.

    May 30, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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