Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George made some unfortunate remarks last week, broadcast on Christmas day on a Chicago affiliate, where he compared Chicago’s LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan. He said:
“Well, I go with the pastor. I mean, he’s telling us that they won’t be able to have church services on Sunday, if that’s the case. 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.”
He received some very heavy push back from both the gay and the African-American community for his hyperbolic insensitively. Rev. Eric Lee, Executive Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said he was “insulted” by the cardinal’s attempt to “distort the history of terror for cheap political aims.”
Rather than back off and apologize, the cardinal decided to double down, laying the blame on the gays, saying the LGBT community “invited the comparison.”
(Archdiocese of Chicago)
His statement from the Archdiocese website (emphasis mine):
The Chicago Gay Pride Parade has been organized and attended for many years without interfering with the worship of God in a Catholic church. When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. 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. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.
To be clear, the dust-up involves merely the concern that the parade might make it difficult for local worshippers to reach a single church along the route. Those fears were alleviated when organizers moved the start time back two hours. Why the cardinal feels the need to still defend his comparing loving, law-abiding citizens to the most vicious and notorious murderers in American history, I can’t imagine.
The parade is an annual event that draws as many as 800,000 people, and it no doubt provides a lot of plus revenue to local merchants and vendors for the crowds it attracts from all over the Midwest to Chicago. Of course, powerful politicians jockey for prime positions leading the march. Last year, representatives from the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team carried the Stanley Cup with a gay hockey team. The event is embraced widely by corporate America and the ordinary citizens of Chicago who come out to show support and enjoy the sights and the joyful celebration of the freedom and diversity of America.
The Chicago Pride March couldn’t be farther from a Klan rally.
It shows an absolutely insane level of unbridled narcissism and paranoia for the cardinal to imagine all this hubbub and planning is all about interrupting the services of a single church along the route. Certainly other houses of worship and many businesses will find their congregates and customers will be slightly inconvenienced by the parade. That is a reality of living in urban environments in the summer when people of many different walks exercise their freedom of assembly to have parades. Every parade inconveniences someone.
The only thing special about the church here is their need to whine.
If the cardinal really thinks the comparison is appropriate, and this wasn’t merely a moment of ill-chosen words, one must wonder about his mental faculties are failing him and if it would be appropriate that he should resign, as a petition is calling on him to do.
Update: LGBT activist group, Truth Wins Out, has announced they have purchased a full page advertisement to run in this Sunday’s Chicago Tribune daily newspaper. Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen says:
“We felt compelled to place this ad after Cardinal George compounded his initial smear with further insults disguised as an apology. It seems the sin of pride is keeping George from saying he is sorry for his outrageous and misleading remarks about Gay Pride. At this point, the only road to redemption is his resignation.”
“This is not a legitimate fight over religious liberty as George wrongly implies, but a vivid example of religious bigotry fueled by a mean-spirited analogy that linked innocent, law abiding families with the KKK,” said Besen. “We will stand up against such lies and speak out when LGBT people are unfairly maligned.”