The head of the Catholic Church in Chicago is being slammed for comparing gay rights groups to the KKK.
Cardinal Francis George made his shocking comments during a local Fox TV interview.
The Archbishop was asked to respond to the concerns voiced by a local pastor who'd suggested he might have to cancel Mass at his church one Sunday next June when a gay pride parade goes right past his doors.
"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 said. "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."
Pressed by Fox Chicago's Mike Flannery and Dane Placko, George acknowledged that it was a strong comparison, but didn't back away from it.
"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," the religious leader said.
The route and time for the parade were set by the Chicago City Council last October, and it has since adjusted the start time after the local pastor expressed his concerns about his church being inaccessible because of the event.
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based LGBT advocacy group, told The Chicago Tribune he was so shocked when he watched a clip of the interview online that he had to stop and replay it.
"I literally had no words," Martinez said. "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."