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Cardinal Francis George expressed opposition to a planned route that will take the Chicago Gay Pride Parade in front of one of the city's oldest Catholic churches, warning that marchers could "morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan."
Cardinal George spoke Wednesday in an interview with Fox News. He expressed support for Father Thomas Srenn, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church on West Belmont, who said the presence of the parade, held the last Sunday in June, would be a "sad thing" that could interfere with the mass schedule.
"You don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism," said Cardinal George.
Earlier this year, the 2012 parade route was changed and the start time backed to 10 a.m. to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people and concerns about public drinking. On Thursday, however, parade organizers agreed to push the start time back to noon, the original time, a compromise brokered between parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer, Srenn, Alderman Tom Tunney, and other city officials, Windy City Times reports.
LGBT advocates took offense at the cardinal's remarks, according to ChicagoPride.com. Greg Harris, a gay state representative whose district includes the parade route, said, "I think the cardinal's remarks were inappropriate and disrespectful. We should always treat each other with respect, even when we disagree."
The Gay Liberation Network issued a statement that said, "In comparing LGBT rights advocates to the KKK, the cardinal shows he is not an honest man of faith trying to better the world, but rather, a mendacious one trying to deflect criticism of church policies that promote discrimination. It is ironic that George chooses to mention the KKK, as they are but one of the most extreme examples of organizations which have used religion to shield themselves from criticism of their hateful policies. While an overwhelming majority of lay Catholics support equality for women and LGBTs, the Catholic leadership has a history and present practice of discrimination which they apparently will go to quite extreme lengths to defend."
Watch the interview with the comments from Cardinal George.