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Cardinal George asked Chicago priest to step down

CHICAGO (AP) - Cardinal Francis George asked a Chicago priest on Tuesday to temporarily step down from his post to "reflect on his recent statements" regarding Sen. Hillary Clinton and her bid for the White House. Last week...
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June 04, 2008

.CHICAGO (AP) - Cardinal Francis George asked a Chicago priest on Tuesday to temporarily step down from his post to "reflect on his recent statements" regarding Sen. Hillary Clinton and her bid for the White House.

Last week, the Rev. Michael Pfleger mocked Clinton at Sen. Barack Obama's former church, saying the New York senator felt "entitled" to the Democratic nomination for president.

In a guest sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show."

Pfleger's sermon, along with past controversial statements by Trinity's former longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, led Obama to resign his membership at Trinity. Pfleger apologized for his comments Sunday.

George asked Pfleger to take leave from pastoral duties at St. Sabina Church in order to "reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the church's regulations for all Catholic priests," according to a statement Tuesday from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The leave was effective Tuesday and was scheduled to last "a couple of weeks," the statement said.

Pfleger, who has promised George he would no longer mention any presidential candidates by name, did not believe "this to be the right step at this time," according to the statement.

"While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect," George said in the statement. "I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns."

Messages seeking comment were left Tuesday for Pfleger and the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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