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. BOB

    Somehow the witch is behind this. The last ditch efforts of a despatate woman.

    May 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Rod Brown

    Mr. Obama needs to drop that Church like a big rock.

    May 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Terry

    What does this have to do with the price of gas, the Iraq war, the declining value of the dollar and the slowing economy? Nothing.

    May 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Independent For Obama

    This is crazy... I can't beleive you people are trying to blame this on Obama...

    I hope no one at Trinity decide to rob a bank, it will be Obama's fault. I hope no one get charged for domestic violence, it will be Obama fault. I hope Trinity continue to do great things for Chicago, it will not matter, because the media will not cover anything positive.

    This is giving the racist people who don't want to support him another reason to step away. The strange twist in this segment, is the supposed violator is white. Maybe there is some truth to what he said.

    Poor Obama... Keep your head up and continue to move forward. If only you could control everything everyone said. We know you can't.

    Independent For Obama...

    May 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Where's the truth

    Why the heck didn't the Catholic Church cut ties with this guy long ago? A bit of hipocrisy maybe?

    May 30, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |

    It seem to me that CNN and Fox just love to report this kind of sad news to make Obama look bad. this video was shown on CNN about 100 times today! Why don't you guys show that woman in Puerto Rico who said that puertoricans will not vote for Obama because he is black or that crazy racist divsive Ms. Ferraro who bashes Obama every chance that she gets. Please CNN move on!!!

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. judy goins

    I don't think Obama should be held accountable for everything the idiots in his church or this country says. That would be like holding Bush responsible for all the poverty and gasoline prices in the United States.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. wonder

    Like I've said, things have come out about Obama since Feb. more & more will come out. That's 2 preachers now that he is close with and even funneled money to that are dividers and racists. Black racism is just as back as white racism. Is that really what we want for a president. Obama only distances himself AFTER IT'S BROUGHT OUT IN THE OPEN. Why for 20 years did he believe and agree with them and now all of a sudden, he sees the light???? Come on, I really want to see the spin on this one.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. J

    CNN's and Fox News' efforts to attribute the inflammatory rhetoric and immoral deeds of others to Barack Obama impunes the integrity of sincere journalists. Here is some advice for both cable "news" networks: focus your attention on reporting the news instead of trying to create news. Hillary Clinton has lost the race for the democratic nomination despite your past and current best efforts to derail Barack Obama's campaign.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. vic nashville,Tn

    Attention to super delegates
    We don’t much about Barack Hussein Obama, But Obama know every thing because all of them are his long time friends
    So Our votes to Hillary or Mc Cain
    Hillary 08

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Enlightned Voter

    Obama embraces all people, no matter their beliefs. Don't we want a uniter in the White House for a change? After all the whole world hates us, Iran wil probably bomb us cause of hillary's 'obliterate' comment and the world will hate us more if mcwar is pres.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Somerlot

    I am so disappointed that at the core of Senator Obama's church is a very divisive philosophy. Up until now, I had been able to ignore the actions of the minister of Obama's church, but it appears that this black vs. white , them against us ideology is part of Obama's beliefs. If Senator Obama disagreed with this ideology, he would not have attended this church for 20 years.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. Romulus, Michigan

    Senator Clinton claims sexism.

    Her crying was the ultimate use of her womanhood. She used it to the max. Women who want to be treated equally, somehow, can find a way to make people feel sorry for them.

    I am a 57-year-old woman supporting Obama.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  14. Doyle - MI

    I believe in America Pfleger has the right to voice his opinion. Remember, "sticks and stones may brake my bones but words will never hurt me."

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Bryan

    Every word was the truth about the way Hillary acted. She thought that it was going to be easy. I am starting to think that if Barack was John Smith she would have dropped out by now. But she can not bow out to a black man.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. Ken

    Where was Dononhue when the Catholic church was abusing boys for the last 30 years? Why didn't he leave the Catholic church

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Eddy

    Wow, totally empty. But you still won't take my comment, will you?

    This correspondence is now closed.

    May 30, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  18. amber ovalle

    still reaching for preacher connections? Really? I'm sorry, did I miss something here? BO didn't do this, but since he knows someone who made an off handed remark, we're to lynch him? So 10 minutes ago...can't we focus on som real issues?

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  19. Mark

    Are we now going to say that every word uttered by a Obama supporter should be denouced before its ever whispered...and now does Barack need to account for everything everyone says?

    Are you serious?...

    Get over yourselves....Father Pfleger has done some wonderful things, and has helped southern chicago is a great deal of ways...his work has not gone unnoticed.

    This coming from a white guy who lives in the suburbs of Chicago... (WAY western suburbs)...

    Find another news story... you know one with some actual substance...I for one could not account for everyone of the people who has met me, or what the say, how can we now expect Barack to do that?...


    Obama 08'!!!


    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. Debra

    I would like to hear the senators answer to the question asked by the Catholic League.....why this guy? It is terrifying to think that this politician, posing as the agent of change, has so many similar friends with such hateful, bigoted views of half the population of the country he wants the privilege to lead. What is more terrifying is that it is looking increasingly more likely that he will be the one the Democrats give that opportunity to. God help us all.....

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Mikey

    Am I missing something here? The Catholic League is criticizing Obama for statements made by a Catholic Priest?

    They don't like what Pfleger has to say, I guess. Apparently, they see criticizing his comments as part of their mission "to protect the free-speech rights of Catholics 'whenever and wherever they are threatened.'"


    Okay, the guy is an idiot. Mocking Hillary like that was in very bad taste. Interjecting race into his comments was ridiculous, uncalled for, and just plain wrong. Her sense of entitlement to the Presidency had nothing to do with race. I wish all these religious figures would stick to matters of religion and stop interjecting themselves into the political process.

    Question: Is Obama is now somehow responsible for everything that goes on at TUCC? Note they now simply call it "Obama's church."

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Eddy


    Deus absconditus

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Pointless

    AGAIN - how is this Obama's fault??????

    It's freedom of speech - ever heard of it? People can say what they want. Obama has no control over others?

    Blaming Obama for someone elses actions is pointless and divisive in it's own right.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. Sarah L., Fayetteville, AR

    Good grief! The comments weren't that bad. Plus, Hillary is 10 times more divisive that both preachers put together and she's the one running for president.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. Adam NYC

    CNN = Clinton News Network

    I know you wont postt this so thatt you can cover up your girl.

    May 30, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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