- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

A white Roman Catholic priest who openly mocked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at Sen. Barack Obama’s Chicago church was disciplined by his bishop yesterday and silenced for the political season.

In a widely-circulated video, the Rev. Michael Pfleger spoke from the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ and called Mrs. Clinton a racist who cried because Mr. Obama’s success offended her sense of white entitlement. He also said whites who don’t throw away their trust funds and 401(k) plans are exhibiting white entitlement because they benefit from slavery and white supremacy.

“Out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And [Mrs. Clinton] said: ‘Oh, damn! Where did you come from?’” Father Pfleger screams on the video.

“‘I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show,’” Father Pfleger says of the former first lady’s thoughts before going into mock sobbing to raucous approval from the audience.

Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago was less amused.

“Father Pfleger’s remarks about Senator Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply,” the cardinal said. “The Catholic Church does not endorse political candidates.”

Cardinal George said that “to avoid months of turmoil in the church, Father Pfleger has promised me that he will not enter into campaigning, will not publicly mention any candidate by name and will abide by the discipline common to all Catholic priests.”

The video was posted Thursday and quickly burned across the conservative blogosphere. Father Pfleger spoke at the church formerly led by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, whose incendiary sermons already had prompted Mr. Obama to one religious repudiation this season.

Mr. Obama said he was “deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.”

Father Pfleger quickly apologized, but only in the conditional: “I am deeply sorry if they offended Senator Clinton or anyone else who saw them.”

The Clinton campaign denounced Father Pfleger’s “divisive and hateful language” and said it was “disappointed that Senator Obama didn’t specifically reject Father Pfleger’s despicable comments about Senator Clinton.”

Father Pfleger was not as close to Mr. Obama as had been Mr. Wright, who married the Obamas, baptized their children and inspired the title of Mr. Obama’s memoir.

But according to the Associated Press, he has donated to the candidate’s campaigns, participated on Mr. Obama’s behalf in a religious forum on the Iowa campaign trail, and sat on a Catholics for Obama committee until recently. He also invited Mr. Wright to speak at his parish, the mostly black St. Sabina Church.

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