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. Flo

    They're after to hurt Obama, these so call preachers are hypocrites, because they are not in Obama best interest, so they given that witch Hillary and some of her supporters a reason to blahblah their mouths. Anyway Osama must go through in other for him to appreciate this position his about to have, if I was him I would go on my knees and ask God to take some the hypocrites out of my life. I love Osama and his wife Michele, I believe they giving hope to those people who do not have it. I pray that God continue on blessing them through their journey.

    Obama and Michele 08

    May 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Yes

    How many more of this are still coming?

    May 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. theresa in Prattville, AL

    Well Donohue, why haven't you distanced yourself with the child/boy molesters of all of your churches. How about that. You need to be careful of what you say about other people speaking. YOu sat there and let boys be molested by Priest and others and you are still there in the Catholic church. Be fair now. You Catholic people are always doing something and hiding it. So now you want to speak about Barack who has his own mouth and speaks for himself. Pfleger does not speak for Obama just like he doesn't speak for you. I hope you get this message and look me up because I would love to talk you personally. YES I WOULD.

    May 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Wake Up Obama Supporters!

    Another skeleton out of the closet. The more we learn about this man the less we will like him. I supported Obama at the beginning and then I realized he has no personality and doesn't have a strong character. All he does is smooth talk and it's getting old. He's a freshman senator, has no experience, didn't vote most of the time while he was actively in Congress, only distances himself from controversial people like Father Pfleger and Rev. Wright AFTER he gets caught up in a mess, and doesn't know anything about International Politics. I would vote for him in 4 or 8 more years. He needs to prove himself and actually DO SOMETHING productive in the Senate first. Everyone is caught up in his message of CHANGE. What can he change that Hillary can't? They vote the same 94% of the time. And yes plenty of people hate her but it's because we know so much about her. She's more trustworthy and can take the heat from the GOP!!

    May 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Does Obama have ANY friends that are not nutjobs?

    What is his administration going to look like? He obviously lacks the judgement to be President of the United States. And the DNC is trying their best make sure he gets the nomination.

    Hillary or McCain for me. I don't want people like this running the government.

    I heard Obama's uncle went to liberate Mars.

    May 30, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. Where is the church's Conscience

    I'm a Christian and very proud of it. My stance has always been that the Church is tainting itself by its involvement in politics. During his trial Jesus told pilate that his " kingdom is not of this world for if it was His servants would have stopped those trying to arrest him". It seems as though the rest of the "Christian leaders" just don't get it.
    Christianity is failing to live to its purpose, which is to be the conscience of whatever society in which it is, by getting involved into partisan politics.
    Sooner or later the political parties will push the church out because the church's message is incoherent with theirs.
    The so called Christian leaders don't speak for me. As a matter of duty Christians should vote but as a matter of principle they should stay out of politics.

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. Tired of The Double Standard, Chicago, IL


    Anything to keep the fire going. Obama is NOT responsible for everything someone who knows him says. If that was the law, we would all be in jail a long time ago. Why is he responsible for what someone else said but 'other' candidates are only responsible for what comes out of their own mouths and then they are STILL let off the hook easier than Obama. Tired of the Double Standard!

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Larrywp

    Same song, second verse. Obama is a fraud, and will lose handily in November...if nominated.

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. Helen

    The threads that bind the hands. How many more secrets does Senator Obama have in his religious closet? Hillary is a true lady.

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. Tired of Worthless News

    Seriously, who cares. Aren't there more pressing issues. Hasn't everything about this election been run into the ground ad nauseum?

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. chris

    it is impossible for obama to win in November, and he has only himself and his racist, sexist, ignorant, arrogant and naive supporters to thank

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  12. eam

    obama is a wolf in sheeps clothing, a little reminder Nobama, you are judged by the friends you keep. And you sir like the two morons that are your friends are a moron yourself. You have misled the youth of this country with your pathetic chant of hope. What exactly are you gonna change? Oh I know, just the color of skin the crooks in Washington are gonna have now. Makes no difference a crook is a crook no matter what color. Way to go there Mr. Hanky (obama), your just a Christmas Poo. Im in TEXAS and i can smell what you're shovling all the way over here.

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. Kyle

    Isn't evident by now that Hilliary's racists views and statments and indeed truth and who she really is as a person. People get this through your heads. HILLIARY IS NOT.... I REPEAT... HILLIARY IS NOT BILL CLINTON. Just as I am not my wife. She won't act and do the same things as Bill. She will do it the Hilliary way. And we all have bare witnessed to what the Hilliary way of doing things entails. And Revs and priest should not be cursing from the pulpit. I guess the only safe way for Obama would be to go to a all white church where minorities aren't usually accepted. Only then would they leave him alone on these pastoral issues. I do agree the rethoric does not tie into Obama's message, but hummm then again Obama wasn't the one preaching.
    My wife loves choclate icecream and I hate it. Should we break up because we have differences? If your premise can't hold true at a most basic level then it is flawed. The point is, that man can say what ever he wants, to whom ever he wants. If he wants to say all blacks should go back to africa and whites stole this land from the Native Americas, poisioned them and raped their women and should go back to asia then go ahead. As long a Obama is not saying these things and agreeing with these things I am all for it. Freedom of Speech. Live long and prosper.

    Democrats 08.

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Thompson

    So, why does Obama take the blame for another man's words??? Regardless, if they are friends or not, we all have friends and family member whom we don't agree with.

    Is this the best you can come up with to trash Obama. God knows what would be said if Hillary was the front runner...

    Give me a break!

    May 30, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Dawn

    He's a catholic priest; he represents catholics NOT Senator Obama. If Catholics don't like him then kick him out! How is a politician more responsible for a priest than the catholic church?

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. James, SC

    See! When Hagee directly attacked the Catholic Church no one was outraged. Now a Catholic Priest makes fun of a Presidential Candidate and Catholic Church leadership is attacking Senator Obama for the priest's action.

    Why don't they just come right out and say, "We like Senator Clinton," and instruct THEIR own people not to say anything?

    No. Blame the black candidate for what the white priest said.

    They need to change their name to – Hillary Clinton's Catholic League

    It is actions like this that gives credibility to people like Hagee; and make him seem right in his skewed opinions.

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Chris Woltman

    This "Catholic League" who are criticizing Father Pfleger sound like a front for Christian Coalition republo-bots who think they can dictate everything in the media and popular culture concerning the voice of America's Catholics, of which I am a member. Many, many American are surely delighted by seeing father Pfleger say what we all know is true, which is the duty of a real religious leader. To all you Catholics who vote Rebublican blindly because of abortion, how dare you turn your backs on those sitting on deathrow and validate capital punishment with these Rebublican war mongers. Trying to claim the moral highground and telling me how to vote on my faith is wearing out Christianity for the whole nation, please stop the hypocrisy!

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

    Enough is enough with BO. When will he stop denouncing his ministers and start denouncing the congregation which obviously enjoys every hate filled word Wright and this other "Priest" spew. Oh yeah and wasn't he a part of that same congregation for over 20 years? Does he honestly think that Americans are dumb enough to continue to buy his excuses? Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

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

    Anyone want to wager who the Catholic League supports for president? If Father Pfleger is so bad then why is he still a Father with a church?

    Besides, is there not a some degree of merit to his comment? Seems to me that there is a huge contingent of Hillary supporters that I believe that share the sentiment...

    I am still puzzled that New Hampsire is the only State were the Polls were wrong. Come to think of it I seem to recall Kucinich had his doubts as well, hmmmmm.

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. Carrie Pa

    Being Catholic, I have never seen a priest act like this. This man is insane. In my church, I have a hard time not falling asleep. Humorous in a way! There is even some truth to it. Who cares?

    What has happened to the Separation of Church and State? This is a political campaign. I don't care about what Obamas, Clintons or McCains preacher/church have to say. It doesn't show what kind of President any of the candidates will be. It's not going to bring my brother home from Iraq, bring my mortgage rate down, pay my bills, give me lower interest rates for my daughters education, equal pay as my fellow male co-workers, affordable health insurance, etc. The real issues have taken a back seat to these petty issues.

    Democrats need to unite behind Obama. The Bush policies have hurt Americans. McCain's policies will be no different.

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. D R

    D-E-S-P-E-R-A-T-E... Two weeks ago Obama dismisses the McCain, Hagee connection, giving McCain the benefit of the doubt. He told this horrible press that he doesn't consider Hagee's comments to be John's views. END OF STORY.. ESPECIALLY ON FOX! But Obama's fair game for these losers. With Hillary, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and the Jewish owned media, Obama is fighting many fronts! I am ashamed of this news media, and the corrupt government we have. Why isn't CNN, and the other medias showing the faces of the kids lost in war for NOTHING! Or how about the hungry! I may sound like a Liberal but I'm very independent. I am growing very tired of the ultra right. They are going to destroy the earth.

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. Motov8n

    Is this also demeaning to the Catholic Church? Will Obama have to answer to everyone that speaks @ this church? Cut the BS CNN. Hillary's pastor had to answer to child molestation charges. This is one of the news medias that boosted the WAR. Especially you WOLF B.

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. Orren J

    Well what can you say – pfleger needs his 15 mins

    May 30, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Matt white guy in CO

    GET OVER IT!!!!!!!
    Let me let you in on a little secret. . . . . SHHHHH come closer



    now dont tell anyone else, I dont want this getting out. To reiterate I am white and I have definitely seen where it has made my life easier

    May 30, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |

    How much did the McSame and Hillary campaigns pay CNN to air this video over 100 times today!

    May 30, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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