CHICAGO -- Chicago's Cardinal Francis George has apologized for comments he made comparing the city's gay pride parade to demonstrations by the Ku Klux Klan.
In an interview with WFLD-TV on Dec. 21, George was asked about the route for this year's parade, which will take it past a Catholic church during Sunday services.
"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 in his response.
In a statement published Friday on the Archdiocese of Chicago website, George apologized for the "inflammatory" analogy.
"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," the statement read in part. "I do not believe that; it is obviously not true … I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families."
He went on to say his remark was "motivated by fear for the Church's liberty," but said this was "a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said."
George is a supporter of AGLOChicago, the Archdiocesan support group for gays and lesbians, WFLD-TV reported. In his apology, he said, "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."
Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said the apology was "important and will go some way toward healing the pain he has caused," according to the Chicago Tribune.
"However, his actions will speak louder than words, and we will be paying attention to see if his words translate into acts of dignity and respect towards LGBT people," he said.