Cardinal Francis George apologized today for the remarks he made comparing the LGBT rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan. A statement on the front page of the Archdiocese of Chicago website reads:
Statement from Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
January 6, 2012
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. I do not believe that; it is obviously not true. 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. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.
I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church’s liberty. 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.
Francis Cardinal George, OMI
The significance of this action is immense. For the first time that I can remember, a prelate has acknowledged that words and ideas he has used in regard to the LGBT community were harmful, and he has apologized for the hurt they caused.
Significant, too, is the fact that he acknowledges that he has family members who are gay/lesbian, and that he loves them. It is rare that a prelate speaks personally, let alone personally and positively about LGBT people.
I hope that one lesson he has learned is that the level of the hierarchy’s rhetoric is way too high, and that there is a need for reconciliation, understanding, and healing. The apology is a good first step, but more steps need to be taken to heal the great chasm that exists between the hierarchy and LGBT people, especially LGBT Catholics.
The cardinal also needs to learn that LGBT people are not out to endanger religious liberty. If he would enter into dialogue with LGBT Catholics, he would learn that more clearly. Dialogue leads to better understanding and better relationships.
One thing that he can do, which we have already suggested, is to greet parade-goers in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on the day of the parade, and pass out water to them.
Let’s hope and pray that this ugly incident has truly opened his heart and that it will be the beginning of a new way of thinking and acting for him.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry