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. metoo


    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. aaron from minneapolis

    The Catholic league had priests who raped young boys and they're upset over what Pfleger said? Give me a break! He pointed out the truth and made fun of facts just like others have done. Freedom of speech. He shouldn't have to apologize for anything. Let's call a spade a spade.

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. oh please...

    ...give it a rest. Barack has been running for 15 months already so we all know that the views of these pastors are not his. And since they are not running for office who cares what they say or think. Unless you are still seeking to discredit Obama and foster the racisim and sexism that has exposed the ugly underbelly of this country during this election. And we all know that CNN would never do that...right?

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. jorge izquierdo

    How come there are so many idiots , including the media pundits, that believe that
    because someone's Pastor said something stupid
    they have to be held responsible also. If my son,my brother,or a friend commits a crime,it does not makes me a criminal or makes me responsible.

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Chris from San Antonio

    And yet no word from anyone about McCain's racist pastor...

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Hmmmm

    The Catholic chuch should have cut ties with all the pedophile priests a long time ago instead of covering their tracks.

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. TonyNJHC

    In my opinion, a church which follows the teachings of Mr Pfleger is welcome to believe what they wish to believe, but don't expect true people of faith to go along with these teachings. Teachings such as Mr. Pfleger's are not what I would expect to hear at a Catholic Church. This is the beginning of a very serious time for us all. I don't believe Jesus would give his approval to such teachings.

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Collins- Riverview, FL

    Catholics don't seem to support Obama in general. I hope they do not use another mans words to judge him.

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Dan

    How many more of these kinds of people are going to come out of the woodwork. These statements are very upsetting

    May 30, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. ERD in NC

    Interesting tie between the two of them, makes me wonder how often Mr. Obama as a state senator got cozy with steering funds. I know pork's nothing out of the ordinary for any elected official, but is it much of a "change"?

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Marie-Lynn

    For sure this priest is not a pedophil... So if the leader of christian church is a leader he should look over his shoulder just in case, meaby someone have many things to say..

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Edward

    Hopefully there won't be another Wright issue here. I mean Obama can't tell other people what to say. I do find it funny though the way this plays out compared with the Hagee scandal which was virtually nonexistent.

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Steve, New York, New York

    Before the Catholic church starts inserting itself into politics, they hopefully realize that there's a separation of "church and state" in this country.

    With the appaling behavior of some catholic priests in this country, it is "SHOCKING" that they are now casting the first stone!!

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. CT voter

    God PLEASE PLEASE don't turn into Fox news. I haven't watched them in month's now and through an MSNBC show I got word of how they tried to make this a big deal, and I just laughed and tuned into CNN and flip flopped with msnbc and cnn because I can't stand fox news. I'm happy you arn't making as big of a deal about this none sense but pleaaaase don't start turning it into a big deal, it ISN'T, this is so worthless and I'm so sick of the candidate's having to apologize for ANYONE MAKING ANY COMMENT, THAT'S NONESENSE. A lot of people will talk but how in the world is anyone else responsible for what someone ELSE says!

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. vince Chicago

    Here comes the Obama folks. Obama didn't say anything. Why is everyone trying to bring Obama down because of what his friends say? Start the SPIN CYCLE.

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. kenny cole

    This is nonsence if the media has nothing to do go to iraq, theres a lot to write about

    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. What if?



    May 30, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Gringo

    Wonder how many more of these radical nutcases Nobama has hidden in the closet. Doesn't matter much whether Nobama wrote the guys sermon or not, he DOES hang out with the guy, just like Wright.

    Strange inner circle for a guy that wants to lead us out of all our devisive problems.

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Truth

    But again what this pastor said was 100% right...

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Roy Stureen

    "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." INVESTIGATION!!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. Jeffim, miami

    Exactly!!!! How come this guy who preaches unity chooses those nuts as his spiritual advisors?
    Everybody should see AC360 on how Obama won his state senate seat in 1996. This guy is scary!!!!

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Gene

    At this point if I was Obama.. I would just leave this church and spit on them on his way out. I'm a big Obama supporter.. but it's almost starting to look like his church is trying to ruin him. But.. as before... here's Obama having to issue another apology for something that he had nothing to do with.

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. Jean

    Go Obama, Who cares about that fellow in the church, Keep up the good work

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. Fiyah_Startah

    If that's the case, none of Washington would exist. It's funny how the League of Catholics wants to jump on this boat, but refuses to openly discuss the padophiles they allow to oversee the churches. BTW–Father Pfleger has always been a critic of the lying and molesting fathers that Donohue has welcomed ans continues to support.

    Please already, If he's that bad, why is he still a father in the Catholic church? And I thought they said Obama was muslim? Anything to make him like the rest, how sad.

    May 30, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25