CHICAGO (CBS) – The head of Chicago’s Catholic Church apologized Friday for making remarks linking gay-pride activists with Ku Klux Klan demonstrations against the church.

Cardinal Francis George made the controversial comment last month to Fox News Chicago as the Archdiocese was at odds with organizers of the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade over whether the procession would pass a North Side church as it holds Sunday services.

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George said at the time the gay-rights movement risked “morph(ing) into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

Organizers changed the start time of the parade to avoid interfering with church services but noted other churches did not complain.

In a statement posted Friday on the Archdiocese Website, George said he was “deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.”

The Cardinal said everyone knows gay and lesbian individuals and loves them.

“I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church’s liberty,” George said in the statement. “This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said.”

Gay-rights groups had condemned George’s earlier comments. On Friday, Equality Illinois accepted the Cardinal’s apology but said it expects more of him in the future, noting that “actions will speak louder than words.”

Another gay-rights organization, the Rainbow Sash Movement, said in a statement it accepts George’s apology. The group canceled a planned protest that was scheduled for Sunday at Holy Name Cathedral.

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