Father Pfleger apologizes for Clinton comments

CHICAGO The outspoken priest addressed his church, St. Sabina, for the first time after being reprimanded by Cardinal Francis George for mocking Senator Clinton in a racially charged sermon delivered last Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ.

Father Pfleger said Sunday that he had received death threats, and he called the past few days the 'most painful' of his life.

The priest received a warm welcome from his congregation Sunday as he prepared to publically respond to the controversy. In his statement, Pfleger not only apologized, but also rallied against the media and YouTube, the Internet site that first aired his controversial message.

Pfleger apologized Sunday for his words but not for the message that has landed him in so much trouble with both Democratic presidential candidates and the Catholic Church.

"I apologize for anyone who was offended and who thought it to be mockery," Pfleger said before a packed congregation. "I apologize for the words that I chose."

An increased security detail stood by as Pfleger told his members he would not stop fighting racism and sexism, but he admitted the latest test of his faith had been difficult to handle.

"Over 3,000 emails of hate and threats and name-calling who have gone so far as to say, 'Kill yourself. Take your life," Pfleger said. "The last few days have been the most painful days of my life, even more so than the murder of my foster son."

Father Pfleger's statement came one day after Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama announced that he and his family were leaving Trinity United Church of Christ, the church where Pfleger made his comments about Hillary Clinton, and also, where now retired pastor Jeremiah Wright stirred controversy after making comments about Clinton, as well.

Pfleger could also face criticism for comments he made during another sermon last week in which he, apparently, spoke negatively about the Clintons and presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

"They wish they had a brother who would stand up and tell it like it is and not be ashamed or apologetic. They got some old weak preacher. 'Jesus loves you.' Some old Joel Osteen, cotton-candy preacher," Pfleger said.

Despite an admonishment of Pfleger by Francis Cardinal George in the last week, parishioners at St. Sabina were standing behind the religious activist.

"Our pastor has come against a lot of confrontation trying to do good for the community on a consistent basis. So, this is no different from that," said St. Sabina's Tracy Hughes.

"This is like son of God, giving always the best, sharing whatever he got," member Jenzy Kenar said.

Pfleger also criticized the media for making the YouTube video headline news over natural disasters around the world and the ongoing gun violence in Chicago and the nation.

Pfleger also added that he was not angry at anyone. He said he just hoped for an open and honest dialogue about race and justice.

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