Chicago's Cardinal Francis George has apologized for repeatedly comparing the gay liberation movement to the Ku Klux Klan.
On the Archdiocese of Chicago website, the archbishop conceded that he "used an analogy that is inflammatory."
The apology came just two days before a scheduled protest against George, which has since been cancelled.
The cardinal told Fox News Chicago in December the he worried that changes to the LGBT Pride Parade that interfered with Sunday services at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lakeview, could mirror KKK protests.
"You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism," he said.
Parade organizers have since announced an agreement with the church, which has declined to weigh in on George's controversial remarks.
The cardinal made a similar analogy twice after the initial statement, causing outrage among LGBT advocates who called for him to apologize and step down.
George's apology came in the form of an official statement Jan. 6.
"I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan," he wrote. "I do not believe that; it is obviously not true. Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I. We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.
"I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church's liberty. This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said."
The Civil Rights Agenda ( TCRA ) commended the cardinal's decision to apologize in a statement.
"I am incredibly pleased that Cardinal George has taken responsibility for his actions and has issued an apology for his comments comparing the LGBT Community to the KKK and the hurt those comments have caused," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA. "A true leader can admit when they are wrong, and the Cardinal has set a good example of leadership today with his statement. Now, with this apology, the LGBT community and the Catholic community can begin to heal the divides that this has caused."
State Rep. Greg Harris emailed Windy City Times, stating, "I am glad that Cardinal George has reconsidered his remarks. Part of what makes America great is that the Catholic Church, and all faiths, are guaranteed Freedom of Religion by our Constitution.
"Similarly, the LGBT community will continue to struggle to achieve equal treatment under the law guaranteed by the our Constitution. In our democracy there will be philosophical, cultural and faith-based differences. However, we should always address these differences with respect and tolerance, and not attacks based on fear."
The pro-LGBT group Truth Wins Outwhich took out a full-page ad in the Jan. 1 issue of the Chicago Tribune with the headline "Hey, Cardinal Francis George, Gay is not like the KKK"applauded the cardinal's apology in a statement. 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."
LGBT activists had planned to protest against the cardinal outside of Holy Name Cathedral Jan. 8 at noon. Joe Murray, executive director of LGBT Catholic organization Rainbow Sash Movement, released a statement saying that the protest would be called off on behalf of his organization.
"I want to thank the Cardinal for his sincere words, and ask the Chicago Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender community to receive this apology as a sincere attempt at reconciliation," Murray wrote. "I believe we can now put this matter behind us."
Murray said he would be in touch with Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) , which was backing the protest, about canceling.
GLN agreed to cancel on Jan. 7, despite initial plans to continue. According to the group, George "said that while he was 'sorry' that he hurt lesbians and gays, that his statement comparing gays to the KKK was 'motivated by fear for the church's liberty.'
"This is completely disingenuous. No one was challenging the church's 'liberty.' Even though George himself has done everything he can to prevent legal equality for LGBTs, we have never in turn insisted that the church be forced to perform same-sex marriages, for example, any more than others have insisted that it be forced to perform marriages for divorcees."
Activist Lair Scott, who initially called for the protest, also agreed to cease demonstration plans but said he too plans to continue to with future action around the issue.
"Saying sorry isn't good enough," he wrote.
Scott and GLN will protest outside Holy Name Cathedral on Feb. 12, as they have in years past for National Freedom to Marry Day.
Windy City Times will update with details as they become available.
LGBT Groups React
Dignity/Chicago welcomes apology from Cardinal George
Chris Pett, President of Dignity/Chicago, the advocacy organization for LGBT Catholics welcomed today's apology from Cardinal Francis George for his remarks fearing that the annual Pride Parade could morph into a Ku Klux Klan-like anti-Catholic rally.
Said Pett, "a core element in our Catholic faith is the sacrament of reconciliation by which we admit our wrongs, seek and are given forgiveness. We welcome this apology from Cardinal George. As we know him as our bishop, we know that it is sincere and that he will work to avoid making such damaging and hurtful remarks in the future."
"We also invite a dialogue with the Cardinal, so that he might better understand and love the LGBT community in all its facets, especially those in his own Catholic Church who continue to be alienated by Church teaching that regards LGBT people as less than 'wonderfully made' children of God. We encourage the Cardinal to open his arms to our community and listen to the truth in our lives and the joy we take in our faith."
Dignity/Chicago is a chapter of Dignity/USA, and shares its mission to work for respect and justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the Catholic Church and the world.
Cardinal George's "apology" to gays doesn't get to the heart of the matter per GLN
FROM A PRESS RELEASE, JAN. 7, 2012
Even though the Gay Liberation Network finds the "apology" of Francis George woefully inadequate, we nevertheless agree to call off the protest scheduled for January 8 ( tomorrow, Sunday ) at Holy Name Cathedral. While taking this action, we highlight our sharp disagreement with some LGBT groups which previously backed the protest and now bubble over with undeserved praise for Cardinal George.
Francis George said in his "apology" that he never meant to smear "all gays and lesbians" with the KKK analogy. So, by implication, and by earlier statements, we take it that George did intend to liken some gays to the Klan, particularly some gay activists. In fact, his original Klan remark was directed at something he vaguely called the "gay liberation movement." This sounds like a specific reference to our organization, the Gay Liberation Network, which he has previously singled out for attack when we have had the audacity to picket the Church hierarchy, including himself, in front of Holy Name Cathedral ( George's charges against us for being "anti-Catholic" have always been disingenuous and incendiary because he knows very well: Our disagreement is with him and other church leaders, not with the Catholic laity which, in poll after poll, backs equal rights for gays and lesbians ) .
In his apology, George claimed further that his KKK analogy was "motivated by fear for the church's liberty." This, too, is completely disingenuous. No one was challenging the church's "liberty," unless by this George means something like the right of the Catholic Church hierarchy to be free from frank and open criticism for its advocacy of discrimination against women and gays.
Finally, and most importantly---and missed by those individuals and groups who are now heaping undeserved praise on the Cardinal---Francis George's "apology" contained not a word about the church leadership's long-standing and aggressive opposition to all equal rights legislation for LGBT people, nationally and in the state of Illinois.
George's anti-gay animus did not begin by his comparison of gay activists to the KKK. When the Catholic Church leadership, including George, ceases doing everything it can to oppose our equal participation in society, then we can accept an apology from that leadership.
While canceling the January 8 protest, we are redoubling our efforts to secure participation in the Freedom to Marry Day demonstration scheduled for Sunday, February 12 at 10:30 AM in front of Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N. State Street, Chicago.
View Windy City Times' continuing coverage of the controversy at:
Tunney: cardinal's comments were "regrettable" 2012-01-04
LGBT Catholic group issues open letter to Ald. Tom Tunney 2012-01-04
Protest against Cardinal George planned 2012-01-04
Rainbow Sash Movement releases statement on Cardinal George's equating gay community with KKK 2012-01-01
Local Welcoming Churches challenge Cardinal George 2011-12-29
Cardinal George challenged to debate at Center on Halsted 2011-12-28
Cardinal still under fire for KKK comments 2011-12-28
LETTER: Cardinal sin 2011-12-28
VIEWPOINT Cardinal George and the KKK: Religious extremists live in Midwest, not just Middle East 2011-12-28
Local and national groups sound off on Cardinal George 2011-12-28
After Catholic Church pressure, Pride Parade start time reverts to noon 2011-12-28
Cardinal George compares Pride Parade to Klan gathering 2011-12-28