Earlier this month, Catholic Cardinal Francis George of Chicago raised more than a few eyebrows for comparing the the gay rights movement to the Klu Klux Klan. George made the comments after organizers of the city’s gay pride parade briefly considered rerouting the event past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
And while the parade’s representatives have since “reached an agreement with the church and moved the parade start time to noon to accommodate services,” George — who initially backed off his incendiary comparison — is doubling down on his remarks in a written statement:
“The Chicago Gay Pride Parade has been organized and attended for many years without interfering with the worship of God in a Catholic church,” George wrote. “When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940’s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.
“It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm. These tragedies can be addressed, however, without disturbing the organized and orderly public worship of God in a country that claims to be free. I am grateful that all parties concerned resolved this problem by moving the Parade’s start time so as not to conflict with the celebration of Mass that Sunday.”
Truth Wins Out (TWO) has formed a Change.org petition calling for George’s resignation and Equally Blessed, an umbrella group of pro-LGBT rights Catholic organizations, said the Cardinal “has demeaned and demonized LGBT people in a manner unworthy of his office.” TWO is also taking out a full page ad in this Sunday’s Chicago Tribune calling on George to step down.