After Chicago Cardinal Francis George's statements comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan (in an interview airing on Christmas Day, no less) caused a widespread outcry and prompted calls for his resignation, George issued an apology Friday in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Said the cardinal:
"I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused, 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."
The brouhaha started when organizers of Chicago's annual gay pride parade drew up plans that would route the parade past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located on Belmont Avenue in the heart of Boystown, the city's gay district. The decision was absolutely not an adversarial one -- the parade had grown so large (in 2011, for example, it drew over 700,000 people) that its previous route was no longer able to address safety concerns including access for emergency vehicles. City officials and parade organizers worked together to set the new route.
The pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Rev. Thomas Srenn, was concerned that the new route would impede parishoners' access to morning Mass. Rather than contacting pride organizers, though, he instead encouraged his congregants to lobby their local alderperson. When the organizers found out about Rev. Srenn's concerns, they agreed to adjust the parade's start time. The issue appeared to be resolved until Cardinal George made his ill-advised and inflammatory remarks:
"[The pastor is] telling us that they won't be able to have Church services on Sunday, if that's the case. 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. So, I think if that's what's happening, and I don't know that it is, but I would respect the local pastor's, you know, position on that. Then I think that's a matter of concern for all of us."
George initially tried to defend the unfounded analogy in the days after his remarks were made public, saying on December 27 that parade organizers' actions "invited" the "obvious comparison." By the looks of Friday's apology, it would appear that the cardinal has changed his tune.
Reaction to George's apology was swift.