It was expected that Chicago Cardinal Francis George would apologize or issue a clarification a few days after he compared members of a gay liberation group to the Ku Klux Klan. This he often does when he speaks impulsively or chooses an inept metaphor.
In this case, he did not retreat, choosing instead to throw more coals on the fire.
In an interview with Fox News Chicago before Christmas, George had commented on concerns at a north side parish that the gay pride parade scheduled for next June would interfere with its Sunday Mass services. He said, “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." This prompted a flood of objections from gay supporters and community groups. Some demanded that George resign.
But after reflection, George reiterated his views in a statement published Dec. 28 . “Organizers (of the pride parade) invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church,” he said in his statement. “One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940s, 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 seems obvious that the cardinal saw in the parade issue an opportunity to deal a powerful blow with one stroke to two of his favorite bug-a-boos: an increase the rampant anti-Catholicism he and fellow bishops see around the country and the determination of gays to obtain legal rights. He has in recent months taken issue with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's endorsement of the legalization of gay unions and scolded the governor for attending an event sponsored by a pro-chice organization. If he sees this latest broadside as an effective argument, he has badly missed the mark. Critics have suggested that George's rash comments do more to spread anti-Catholicism than do the pronouncements of those who do hate the church. The Chicago Tribune editorialized on "the cardinal's bizarre analogy" Dec. 30, quoting Martin Gonchola of Dignity Chicago, who said, "We have not been violent in seeking our rights, so for the cardinal to then equate our movement with one of the most heinous and murderous organizations in the history of our country is just baffling."
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