A controversial Chicago cardinal is under fire after comparing the gay-rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan.
During a Fox Chicago telecast Wednesday, Cardinal Francis George said that he supported a pastor who worried about next year's annual gay parade possibly forcing him to cancel Mass.
"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," George told Fox Chicago. "So I think if that's what's happening — and I don't know that it is — but I would respect the local pastor's, you know, position on that."
The comments intensified the division in a city where civil union legislation was recently passed. Since the law passed, the division between anti-gay-marriage groups and pro-gay-marriage groups has widened even more.
"The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay-liberation people — who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church," George said.
Anthony Martinez, executive director of the Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) advocacy group based in Chicago, said he couldn't believe what he was hearing when he was watching the clip. "I literally had no words," Martinez told the Chicago Tribune. "To equate a movement that is about acceptance, diversity and joy to a group of men in white hoods standing on a lawn and burning a cross is very hurtful, and it's just not truthful."
A group called Truth Wins Out has launched a Change.org petition that calls for the cardinal's resignation. "It is outrageous that Cardinal George would place law-abiding, peaceful citizens in the same category as a notoriously violent hate group," Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen said to Change.org. "George's resignation is his only road to redemption, and if he has a shred of dignity and a sliver of class, he will immediately step down."
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.