Bishop Sorry for Denying Gay's Funeral Rites

A Roman Catholic bishop apologized for denying funeral rites (search) to a man who owned a bar and a dance club popular with gays and said he will preside over a Mass in the man's honor, according to the man's family.

Bishop Robert Brom (search), who canceled John McCusker's funeral rites after citing a clash between the man's "business activities" and the church's moral teachings, met with the man's family on Monday and "regretfully acknowledged his hasty decision," said McCusker's mother, Christine.

"I apologize to the family for the anguish this has caused them," Brom said in a written statement he gave to the family.

There was no immediate response Tuesday to a call seeking comment from diocese officials.

Brom outraged San Diego's (search) gay and lesbian community and many Catholics last week when he canceled funeral rites for McCusker, who was gay. A funeral service for McCusker, who died at age 31 of congestive heart failure, was held Friday at an Episcopal church.

Several gay community leaders met Monday to discuss filing a formal protest with the diocese to demand an apology from Brom.

Brom's statement was read at that meeting by Christine McCusker. She urged people to accept the bishop's apology, saying it was what "John would have done, as he is a great advocate of reconciliation and forgiveness."

Some conservatives were disappointed with Brom's reversal.

James Hartline, who said he alerted the bishop to McCusker's gay business interests, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he had spoken with Brom several times about the case and the bishop "emphatically stated to me he would not budge one bit."

Dioceses have sometimes denied funeral Masses for mobsters, including John Gotti. But in other cases across the country, some priests accused of sexual abuse have been granted Catholic funeral services, including John Geoghan, the Boston Archdiocese former priest whose sex-abuse case helped spark the nationwide church scandal.