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Wright, Pfleger tone message down for law group

June 19, 2008 7:47:11 PM PDT
Barack Obama's former pastor and the Catholic priest who got in trouble for mocking Hillary Rodham Clinton both delivered toned-down remarks to a black lawyers group in Chicago.Fr. Michael Pfleger and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have something in common: Both delivered sermons that became controversial issues in the race for president. On Thursday night, Wright delivered a speech for the Cook County Bar Association. He was introduced by Fr. Pfleger.

Sold out - that's not a common thing for a banquet honoring a lot of lawyers. But Thursday's speakers have shown a knack for drawing the spotlight and causing problems for their friend, who also happens to be the Democratic candidate for president.

The two men are united in their strong faith but also connected by controversy. Pfleger will introduced Wright before an audience of 600 attorneys at the Hyatt hotel.

"Father Pfleger has been an outstanding person within the black community, especially by being of a different color, a different race. Without a doubt, he has been a standout. Reverend Wright has been the pinnacle of the black community for a long time and still is," said Mary Ann Perkins, Cook County Bar Association.

The two men were invited to speak to the Cook County Bar Association long before their relationship with Barack Obama rocketed them onto the national stage.

Wright is Obama's former pastor and the recently retired leader of Trinity United Church of Christ. It's a house of worship known for community outreach. Wright was invited to speak because of his church's legal clinic and college scholarship programs. It was unclear whether he would address the controversy some of his sermons created, and the bruising they inflicted on the presidential campaign of his former parishioner.

Fresh off an archdiocese-ordered suspension, Pfleger will also be speaking but not about Hillary Clinton. Pfleger has promised the cardinal he will no longer pontificate about politics.

"We're going to continue to be a voice for justice in this city and wherever I can. I'm not going to be silent. I believe that's what I am called to be. I believe that's what the gospel is. I will continue to be that," said Pfleger.

Wright said Thursday young people need to see role models like Clinton and Obama.

Wright came under fire for sermons in which he cursed America and accused the government of conspiring against blacks. Cardinal Francis George suspended Pfleger earlier this month after the priest mocked Clinton at Obama and Wright's former church.

Pfleger called Wright a hero and a friend. Both got standing ovations from the crowd.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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