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Gay Rights Group Takes Out Ad Demanding Cardinal’s Resignation

Cardinal Francis George speaks to reporters during a visit to Children's Memorial Hospital on Christmas Sunday. (Credit: CBS)

Cardinal Francis George speaks to reporters during a visit to Children’s Memorial Hospital on Christmas Sunday. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A gay rights advocacy group is placing a full page ad on the Chicago Tribune, taking Francis Cardinal George to task for his remarks comparing the “gay liberation movement” to the Ku Klux Klan and calling on him to resign immediately.

The ad takes Cardinal George to task for remarks he made last week on Fox Chicago News. They came after leaders at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 708 W. Belmont Ave., complained that the Gay Pride Parade next year would disrupt their Sunday mass as a new route took the floats and marchers right past the church for the first time.

George said, “You don’t want to see the gay liberation movement morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

To accommodate the church, parade organizers reversed an earlier decision to move the start time to 10 a.m., and decided instead to start the parade at noon as in past years.

But in its ad, Truth Wins Out complains that even after the dispute was resolved, Cardinal George made the “outrageous” about the Ku Klux Klan that were “so degrading and hurtful that apologizing will not be significant.

“He has crossed so far over the line of basic decency that he couldn’t see it with a pair of binoculars,” the ad says. “His only road to redemption is handing in his resignation.”

The ad goes on to question why the Our Lady of Mount Carmel church was “special enough to change the start time of a huge parade,” given that everything in the path of the parade gets disrupted. The ad dismisses the church’s complaints as “self-centered and unreasonable.”

The ad also says the Gay Pride Parade has nothing to do with “demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism” and calls the remark “paranoid and delusional.” It also claims that a majority of Catholics “reject the extremism spouted by George and support LGBT equality,” citing a Public Religion Research Institute study showing that 74 percent of Catholics favor either same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Truth Wins Out was also behind a petition calling for George’s resignation, which had drawn more than 4,500 signatures as of Friday afternoon.

In another interview this past Sunday, the cardinal seemed to backtrack from his comments. He said he never meant to compare gay rights activists to members of the Ku Klux Klan.

“What I was comparing was a parade to a parade. Obviously it’s absurd to say that the gay and lesbian community are the Ku Kluxers, but if you organize a parade that looks like parades that we’ve had in our past, because it stops us from worshipping God; well then, that’s the comparison,” the cardinal said. “But it’s not with people and people, it’s parade-parade.”

He went on to say he was “very glad” that Our Lady of Mount Carmel welcomes the LGBT community.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, cardinal added, “the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church” by initially refusing to change the start time of the parade.

“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,” the cardinal added. “It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.”

George also said in Tuesday’s statement that he was “grateful” that the issue had been settled by moving the parade start time back to noon.

The Gay Pride Parade will be held on June 24 next year.