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Catholic Archbishop apologizes for comparing LGBT rights movement to the KKK

Saturday, January 7, 2012
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CHICAGO — Chicago Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Francis George on Friday issued an apology to the LGBT community for remarks he made last month when compared the LGBT rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.

In an interview broadcast on FOX television station WFLD-TV in ChicagoIn on Christmas day, George addressed what he perceived to be religious discrimination in the name of gay rights, and during a discussion of Chicago’s annual LGBT pride parade, cited the anti-Catholicism of the KKK in the early 1940s.

Francis George

But under growing pressure from gay rights advocates, calls for his resignation, and continued threasts of protests by LGBT activits, George caved on Friday, issuing this apology:

“I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused,” George said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it’s part of our lives. So I’m sorry for the hurt.”

“When I was talking, I was speaking out of fear that I have for the church’s liberty and I was reaching for an analogy which was very inappropriate, for which I’m sorry,” George said.

“I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation.”

George’s remarks first came during a dispute over the scheduled starting time of Chicago’s annual gay pride parade in June. The event was originally set to begin at 10 a.m., but a priest complained that the starting time would interfere with morning services.

In the interview with WFLD-TV, George said, “You know, you don’t want the Gay Liberation Movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

The remarks set off a firestorm or criticism among LGBT activists and advocacy groups — the Human Rights Campaign called it a “horrific comparison,” and “dangerous and divisive rhetoric.”

On January 1, Truth Wins Out (TWO), a non-profit advocacy group that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism — rebuked the Cardinal with a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune, and called for his resignation.

In a statement Friday, TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen said, “It is gratifying to see the Cardinal take personal responsibility for the hurt he has caused and we hope this incident leads to improving relations with the LGBT community.”

“We called for Cardinal George’s resignation but we think remorse is a positive step in the right direction,” Besen said.

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