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Priest who mocked Clinton suspended from parish

  • Story Highlights
  • Father Michael Pfleger made fun of Clinton for crying before New Hampshire primary
  • His mocking of her was captured on video that was posted on the Web
  • Pfleger's video and other controversies led Obama to resign from his church
  • Pfleger disagrees with the decision to place him on leave
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(CNN) -- The Catholic priest who mocked Hillary Clinton in an animated sermon has been placed on leave from his Chicago, Illinois, parish.

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The Rev. Michael Pfleger, left, marched with the Rev. Jesse Jackson last year in Barrington, Illinois.

Father Michael Pfleger was asked to "step back from his obligations" at St. Sabina's parish for two weeks, according to a statement by Archbishop Cardinal Francis George.

"Fr. Pfleger does not believe this to be the right step at this time," George said in the statement.

"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."

Video of a sermon Pfleger gave last month at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ made the Internet rounds just as Obama's presidential campaign was moving past controversial sermons that the candidate's former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, had given.

Obama recently resigned from the church, citing ongoing controversies there.

In the video, Pfleger makes fun of Clinton, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, for crying during the run-up to the New Hampshire primary. Pretending to cry, the priest wiped his face with a handkerchief and suggested that Clinton wept because she thought that, as a white person and former first lady, she was entitled to the presidency.

"And then, out of nowhere, came 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama,' " Pfleger said. "And [Clinton] said, 'Oh, damn, where did you come from?' "

Pfleger later apologized for his comments.

Pfleger, who is white, has been minister in the mostly black St. Sabina's parish in southwest Chicago for about 30 years.

Obama, who was not present for the sermon, said he was "deeply disappointed" at 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."

He's said he apologized to Clinton, most recently during a phone conversation in which they discussed meeting once the primary campaign is over.

George wrote that Pfleger's leave was effective Tuesday.

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