June 3rd, 2008
06:13 PM ET
15 years ago

Priest who mocked Sen. Clinton gets temporary leave of absence

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/30/art.pfleger.gi.jpg caption="Pfleger has was forced to take a leave of absence."]
(CNN) - The priest who mocked Hillary Clinton during a visit to Trinity United Church of Christ has been asked by church leadership to take a temporary – and unwilling - leave of absence to reflect on his remarks.

"To put recent events in some perspective, I have asked Father Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina’s Parish, to step back from his obligations there and take leave for a couple of weeks from his pastoral duties, effective today," said Cardinal Francis George in a statement.

"Fr. Pfleger does not believe this to be the right step at this time. While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the Church’s regulations for all Catholic priests,” he added. “I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns."

Earlier, the cardinal had said Pfleger would avoid speaking about any presidential candidate through Election Day.

The controversial comments came during a May 25 visit to Barack Obama’s former church, when Pfleger described Hillary Clinton as a white elitist who felt entitled to be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Pfleger also faced criticism for his statement that day that "America is the greatest sin against God." He said Monday that had actually intended to say “racism” was the greatest sin.

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle announced Saturday that they had resigned their church membership in Trinity, which drew the media spotlight earlier this year over headline-grabbing statements by its former minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Joanne Sullivan

    I am appalled by the expressions of such pastors. I believe God helped them to be pastors to guide their flocks toward a loving God. It is terrible that they become so deeply involved in such secular issues as politics.

    June 3, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Keifer S.

    He reminded me of Paul Mooney or Chris Rock. A stand-up comic just having some fun. It's a shame that so many people are so PC sensitive that they don't see the humor in his performance. Fleger was and is a great man, and it's a shame that most people don't see that. Some people just can't take a good joke.

    June 3, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  3. Patricia in Las Vegas

    Did he think he was on Saturday Night Live? There should be no mockery in church or in politics. I have to admit though, the turning point for me that really really really turned me OFF to Hillary Clinton was when she gave that disgusting sarcastic display after the Texas caucus/primary where she made the comments about the celestial skys opening....etc. At that moment, I knew that woman would never be president...she didn't have the intelligence or the dignity for a leadership role.

    June 3, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. AJ

    I doubt Obama sat on his hands when these things were being preached.

    June 3, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. brandon

    this guy is a evil.

    June 3, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Tubby The Tuba

    Yeah AMerica! Ain't it great!

    June 3, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    What happened to free religion and free speech. Does it just applies to some and not others. I would think Cardinal George and the Catholic Church have more pressing issues than what has been done. But then too, maybe to the Catholics of Color, there is a message in the this discipline. I think you all need to write to the 'Holy Father' about this, could be a racial overtone to all of this. Would have been different if Father Pflegler had lied, but he didn't.
    I'm calling my Priest for a meeting as soon as tomorrow. But right now having a good time watching Obama beating Hillary!
    Boo-hooo (LOL)

    June 3, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Manny

    Good! That can go along with his permanent leave of his senses.

    June 3, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. salemkv

    As hideous as Pfleger's caricaturing of Hillary was, what I found most disgusting was the fact that some members of the congregation stood up and applauded him. Father Pfleger apologized later, but that is not enough; those members who participated in that ugly floor show need to follow up with a collective apology. The whole scene gave the impression that the atmosphere in the church was not abnormal. That leads to the following question: how can Obama claim to be unaware - directory or indirectly – of such church sermon after having been a part of it for twenty years? it's a hard sell.

    June 3, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  10. Pistoff

    Too bad we can't have a President who doesn't go to church.

    June 3, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Carol

    As a Catholic I feel this man needs to be removed. This is not an example of how a priest acts. He has shamed our church and himself. I am no supporter of Obama, however, his behavior should be handled quickly and he should be removed.

    June 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. obama == supporter== arkansas

    look people leave this the hell alone you ran obama out of his church now this is not the churches preacher so just get off it
    hipacrits is what you are do not judge people is not you job

    June 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. BONNA

    obama has not been running for office for twenty years, so that bulls

    June 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. Robert

    Hallelujah!!!!! Now that Obama has locked up the nomination we can finally shift all this Hillary talk to "da Man" and talk up da Man's extensive executive background, lengthy congressional service record, lengthy foreign relations career, commended military service record, documented history of reversing economic policy disasters, and so on and so on. Seriously, anyone care that Obama has the worst attendance record of any first term U.S. Senator in U.S. history who wasn't physically incapacitated or serving in a war? Only a dimwit (er demwit) would elect a person so profoundly unqualified as Obama to be their nominee. It's almost like Rove is in the wings at the DNC orchestrating Obama's nomination.

    June 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Ken

    How in the world is Obama linked to this guy, I mean isn't it easy to see that preachers operate under different rules than I guess almost any one else. I have been to two handfuls of churches where the pastor says a lot of shock and awe statements, to make us (people) reflect on our inner demons. Pastors are people also; Did he get caught up in the moment? Any way good choice by the catholic church to suspend this Priest because we all know how righteous They are and They don't need this type of PR

    June 3, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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