Cardinal Francis George apologized this week for an analogy he made comparing gay rights activism with those of the Ku Klux Klan.
"I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused," the Chicago Tribune quotes George as saying. "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 made the analogy during an interview last month with FOX Chicago when he he was asked to comment on next summer's gay pride parade. Changes to the parade route and start time put revelers immediately in front of Uptown's Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. The pastor there expressed "concern" that the parade would inhibit celebrants' access to Mass.
"You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan," George said at the time.
The controversy over the parade was settled before Christmas, but George's remark continued to draw the ire of gay rights activists. There were calls for George's resignation, and an online petition asked officials at St. Norbert's College, in De Pere, Wis., to reconsider George as their choice for commencement speaker.
George later tried to clarify his statement but instead stoked more controversy when he said parade organizers "invited" analogies like the one he made, saying the organizers were acting like other groups "who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church."
George, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, now said he regrets his choice of words.
"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," he said.
"I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying. … Sometimes fear is a bad motivation."