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. Hilda

    I think the Catholic league should clean their own house before they have anything to say to anyone. Come now, lets not go there!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. Jason, San Diego

    It's almost June, and still no one has truly vetted Clinton for her religious's unbelievable that she can worship alongside ugly, hateful types, like John Ashcroft, but Obama can't even know a religious figure without it becoming news. How has Clinton managed to hide her affiliation with "The Fellowship" for so long? Who is protecting this woman, and, more importantly, why?

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Ed from Milwaukee(WI-Swing state)

    Why is the news? Real news is that World Series of Poker is starting very soon.

    Obama 08

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

    Just the other day, I heard somebody is once met Hillary Clinton/John McCain (you decide) say something bad about Barack Obama. They (Hillary Clinton/John McCain) should denounce ever having met that person!

    See how ridiculous that sounds? Why does the media cover these stories? It just probably shows that 24-hour cable news probably has too much air space to fill.

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. OB 08

    why dont obama tell everyone that supportshim to shut up, because everytime someone says anything the media blows it up

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. a vote for MCCain is a vote for the same

    Why is this Barack OBama's fault? was he at the church ? Nope he sure wasn't? Did he mock Hillary?Nope he did not.I thought it was funny and true.Hillary thought this election was her and all hers.Most people voted for her because of who her husband is and that's the truth and nothing but the truth.Hillary and some of the press isn['t given Obama the credit he deserves..He won this nomination fair and square.He did every thing that was asked of him .When he lost primaries in states like West Virginia,Pennsy.,Ohio,Ky he didn't whine and cry i lost the contest because i'm black .Racism has been a part of this primary and it's not coming from Obama nor his supporters. The only problem i had with the Priest comments was i didn't think they hold sermons like that.

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Ben Mo

    what is the use to write a comment, you only print the one who kiss up
    to Obama or are very nasty to Clinton.
    Now go ahead ,I dare you to print this one.

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. bakersfield

    at what point will you all wake up.

    May 30, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. ginger

    " 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."

    This statement from the Catholic League is just down right stupid. What has Father Pleger's standing in the Catholic church been? If he's been a good Catholic Priest, fulfilled his church duties and maintained a life servitude unto the Lord, his church, and community what is the fuss all about.

    All the Father did(wrongly so) was mock Sen. Clinton. But haven't many of us(not myself) been doing exactly the same thing. I guess the Catholic league doesn't watch SNL(Saturday Night Live)

    Let's move on.

    May 30, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  10. ket

    CNN, ask the Catholic league how they feel about John Mcains preacher today giveing the invocation.I hope they are just as upset.

    May 30, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. WD

    Here we go again....

    May 30, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Tiredofthehypocrisy

    To the Catholic League...really, you want to go there...McCain seeks the endorsement of Hagee who insults the entire Catholic church and the Jewish faith, when he called Hitler "God's Hunter"...why don't you speak out on the catholic priest abuse scandal...

    May 30, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    Boy O Boy these people are trying there best to bring Obama down. When McCain can imbrace the worst of the worst!

    May 30, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. Dana

    Oh just get over yourselves already.

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. Mister Anderson

    Why isn't the Catholic League attacking John McCain for his ties to Hagee and why is his chief surrogate, Joe Lieberman, going to call him Moses (again) when he speaks for him in July?

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. PSmith

    Another one coming out from the closet!!!!!!

    Another friend of Obama...

    Another Pastor....



    Watch out AMERICA!!!

    He will destroy this country!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Jaun

    Obama don't surround himself with these people...they are all around. Just that people tends to be more outspoken around Obama.
    OBAMA 08'

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Chuks

    Why should the democratic party be any different from what the republicans did? MI and FL had only 50% of their delegates counted by republicans for violating the same rules and there was no protest or claims of stealing an election.

    So what makes the same logic for democrats any different. Only uneducated followers will drum the noise of a dangerous and power crazy maniac called Hillary!

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. marylee wagerman atlanta,ga




    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Boris

    Leave it to the Catholics to try and crucify one of their own.

    It's hilarious that the Catholic League's charter is to protect free-speech rights of Catholics - except, it seems, with the stark exception of the controversial ones!

    This is just hilarious.

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Ex-Democrat in Iowa

    - This "uneducated" college graduate had 2 typos...

    Just another page in our perfect Obama's book. He's a liar, HYPOCRITE, 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 SPEECHES 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 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. sdn

    Why is this Obama's problem ? He didn't say it and besides Hillary basically used the same argument when she was appealling to the white blue collars just so she could gain their votes. Hmmm, could this be the scandal the Clinton Campaign spoke of?? Did the orchestrate it??? Suddenly, this appears out of no where, I think somebody is playing puppet master.

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. TP

    Is there a source for the claim that Donohue's organization is "influential"?

    May 30, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Hillary, it's over

    Obama has nothing to apologize for. He's not the one who made the idiotic comments.

    Why aren't you calling for Hillary Clinton to apologize for the asinine remarks Geraldine Ferraro keeps making?

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. OH Please

    This is the silliest thing I have seen yet. These comments are no differnet then the late night comics every night... So what I dont see what all the hoopla is over. The problem t=with going after this preacher is that Hillary is telling the Super delegates exactly what this man is saying ... Gov, Rendall of Pennsylvania said whites would never vote for Obama, Hillary said she is getting the hard working white vote. so whats more offensive someone mocking her for saying it or the fact that she said it. Its funny when ever she says anythiing excuses are made. Shes frustrated, she tired etc. But Obama takes heat for comments that didnt even come out of his mouth !!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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