[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.