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. Jerry

    CNN is trying to destroy Obama this is a bunch of mess Obama can not control what people say, look what Geraldine say about Obama about him being a black man this country is the racism country I ever known I have being voting for a white man since I was 18 year old now I am 39 I didnt look at them because of the color of there skin I look at them because I knew they could bring this country together now a black man running for president he been treated like a criminal this got to stop.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. cheryl

    Hmmm...glad Barack apologized for the preist but what about the thunderous approval from the crowd?

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. C. Elliott in VA

    And further more – if the Catholic League is so upset about it go after the person who said it. If this guy has such a "troubling" history WHY is he still a priest????? Answer that MR. Donohue

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. Steve

    Here we go again. When will my party open its eyes to see that
    Barack Obama is an empty suit. The more we learn about him the less of a hope we have of winning in November.

    Many of us simply can not vote for him.

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Ricahrd

    Why are we still letting these morons effect our decision?? Im so sick of hearing about these idiots in the church...I think we should feed them peanutbutter...that should keep the dawgs quiet! GO OBAMA!!

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. ken

    Someone please with common sense and rational explain to me how this is Obamas fault. There is no logic to this i am a white Cathlolic male in Chicago and i fail to see why is it he has to apologize for this mans statement, whatever happened to seperation of church and state. People in America are paying almost 5 dollars a gallon for gas, losing homes and jobs. Who in there right man cares about this non-sense, and the Media must really be bored to keep this going.

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Samuel

    I honestly believe that Catholic League is a political wing of the Republican Party of the USA. Don't hide and attack Obama and if you will hide then I command you to get lost right now.

    Obama will be the president of the USA if the league likes it or not.

    This is a change we can believe in and no one can take it away from we the majority of Americans who truely believe this.

    "No boga wire". You got to be kiding without compromise not to vote for Barack Obama in November. He is simply the best at the moment so VOTE for OBAMA for positive change.

    OBAMA 2008 & 2012.

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. J COTTO

    Obama supporters, before down talking and belittling the Clinton supporters, why don't you look up the facts , before opening your mouths!
    Please stop with the OMG, you people insyead of showing how smart you are, you are doing nothing more than showing your ignorance of the facts. And yes my dear, we Puerto Rican do vote in the election here in the states as residents of the states we live in. It takes 2026 pleged delegates which means come Saturday that number will go up and it will go to the convention.

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Rob

    Look. Another idiot bigot that Obama has been hanging out with for 20 years. And funneled state funds to as well? Shocker.

    Tough to break 20 years of bad habits in one election season.

    Racists for Obama in 08'.

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I blame the Catholic church for hiding known pedophiles all over the country....the world has gone crazy....people are listening to the Catholics....and some are voting for Hillary....proof positive that literacy programs are needed in the US....I mean...had the HRC supporters actually read anything about the mess they support....they would know that she moved to NY as a "carpetbagger" – because Arkansas would NEVER elect her because of all the baggage.....and NY will elect anyone with a D after her name....and that Obama has MORE elected experience than Clinton (HRC NEVER attended a cabinet meeting....according to documents released) – every day a new gaf – everyday another panding promise for entitlements....please HRC supporters...wake up....the only reason she gets because Obama didn't play the dirty politics she does....McCain and the Republicans would NOT be so nice....she would lose in November

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. TESAP



    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. koloulupamba

    honestly what have this got to do with obama seriously let the guy be he as won he merit it .like it or not GOD as make his choice

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. JUSTIN

    its so obvious that the republican media, fox news,morning joe etc are trying to fade the mcclellan true story of the republican white house in which john mccain is involved by trying to sell out some comedian pastors truth telling story of hillary clinton,i think people are smarter than that. you sold the war and we bought it, you cant fool us this time around.i think every american need to be educated to see the truth from the lies,talk about economy,foreclosures and stop hiding the truth tou shameless and biased media

    May 30, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. Proud1of 26% in WV

    Now stop to think about this crap.If you had strong ties to someone that you wanted to dolwell or gain by something would you go around saying such stupid things?I'm sure that the Clinton and McCain campaigns could tell you if someone in that church had chili for lunch that day.I'm sure that they are paying people too record anything said.If this clown had half of a brain and was a real Obama supporter he would have known that he couldn't get away with what goes on in thousands of other churchs across America.

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. King of NJ

    why is the Media in the Church?!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. Seam, Florida

    Why are people making a huge fuss about preachers? Preachers can say whatever the hell they want to say. All this crap is non-sense. Obama doesn't have to break ties with anybody, so STFU already!

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Steve

    I'm a Catholic. I strongly support Senator Obama. Why are we putting such emphasis in this campaign on the comments of clergy? I just don't get it. Let's focus on the issues of the day, including our lousy economy, the Iraq war, education, etc, and stop wasting our time and efforts on stupid comments of some clergy members. Wake up everyone and stop playing politics with religion.

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Jaun

    everyone else can say something and an apology is made... and accepted.But the tune goes on...and on...and on...and on....for Obama.
    OBAMA 08'

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Slavica

    enough ! you can not blame obama for everything what's going on in his church. the timing of this event is very suspicious.

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. park more

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooo Obama, We do not know him, he is a big risk

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. lexel

    Another sideshow I suppose!!! Freedom of speech is everybody's right. Father Pfleger definitely has this right, of course. However, mixing politics and religion is like taking a bad pill with a bitter after- taste on your mouth. I think it was very inappropriate for a Catholic priest to discuss politics to a congregation who needs spiritual guidance versus election travesty show. these kind of talk is best suited outside the church and not on the pulpit.

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Lisa

    People are entitiled to their opinions. Everytime someone says something questionable why is it his position to disown them. I know Hillary is as crooked as they come and has so many people in her life that are questinable. I don't know people are not tripping about this.

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Edgar - Orlando, Florida

    Finally some fair reporting! Obama supporters are you radicals like Obama church?

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  24. James, Pennsylvania

    It amazes me that all Barak can do is say he is disappointed. I'm disappointed too many of my fellow democrats think that a man like Barak Obama who belongs to a church that continues to spew reverse racism and hatred. We now have a much clearer picture of you Obama, and you're not fooling anybody.

    This democrat will vote for McCain if Hillary isn't our nominee. Thanks for resureccting the Reagan Democrats Barrry!

    May 30, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Ken

    Obama takes the blame of all what other do whether he is there or not. Whether they are looking for a opportunity for publicity or not, but he keep winning!

    May 30, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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