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Obama's Reverend Pfleger threatens to snuff out shopowner.

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Uploaded on May 30, 2008

Obama's longtime friend and campaign surrogate was rebuked by the Cardinal for threatening this man's life.

Cardinal (George) rebukes (Flaky Father Mike) Pfleger for 'threat'
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | June 8, 2007 | SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH Religion

Posted on Friday, June 08, 2007 9:01:32 AM by Chi-townChief

Cardinal Francis George has taken an unusual step: issuing a statement about the Archdiocese of Chicago's activist priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, for comments he made at an anti-gun rally.

It is the latest episode in longstanding tensions between George and Pfleger, who have clashed over everything from doctrine to politics.

Pfleger said Thursday, "I thought things were getting better."

The cardinal said in his statement: "Publicly delivering a threat against anyone's life betrays the civil order and is morally outrageous, especially if this threat came from a priest."

But Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina parish, said he didn't make a threat, and that no one from the archdiocese contacted him about the May 26 rally outside of Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale, run by John Riggio.

"We're going to snuff out John Riggio," Pfleger told the estimated 200 people at the rally. "We're going to snuff out legislators that are voting against our gun laws."

What did he mean by 'snuff'? Pfleger said he didn't know the word "snuff" was slang for "killing."

"Police were there. Reporters were there. No one understood me as calling for murder," he said. "I was talking about exposing the gun shop owners and legislators who support them."

Riggio said he's considering legal action and referred the Sun-Times to his attorney, William Howard of Chicago. Howard called Pfleger's statements "alarming" and "slanderous."

"John Riggio is selling a legal product in a legal way," he said. "They made it sound at the rally that he's doing all of these horrible things. Well, he's not."

Three days after the rally, the Illinois State Rifle Association issued a press release headlined, "Chicago Priest Calls for Murder of Gun Shop Owner." The leader of the association said he was writing to the archdiocese for an apology.

Since then, the archdiocese and the priest said they've been deluged with complaints.

The cardinal said that it "was up to civil authorities" to determine whether a threat was made.

Riverdale police called the rally "peaceful" and said no investigation was warranted.

Cardinal's actions confuse priests The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who also spoke at the rally, said gun associations were twisting Pfleger's use of the word "snuff" to stifle his activism and divert attention from the issue of gun violence.

Several of the archdiocese's priests said privately they were baffled by the cardinal's statement. His spokeswoman, Colleen Dolan, said the cardinal wasn't bowing to pressure from members of gun associations.

Talking tough

What Pfleger said:

* About John Riggio of Chuck's Gun Shop:

"We're going to find you and snuff you out. . . . Like a rat you're going to hide. But like a rat, we're going to catch you and pull you out."

* More "snuff":

"We're going to snuff out John Riggio. We're going to snuff out legislators that are voting against our gun laws.We're coming for you because we're not going to sit idly."

* About legislators and National Rifle Association:

"We will embarrass every legislator that takes money from you. We will call them out by name, by district. We will expose you, legislators."

* On battling gun violence:

"Keep on fighting, people."

Source: Illinois State Rifle Association

shogan@suntimes.com

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