Cardinal Francis George, the head of the Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Archbishop of Chicago, is being called on to resign for comparing gay rights activists to the Ku Klux Klan.

George on Sunday told Fox Chicago that he agreed with Our Lady of Mount Carmel's concerns about a new Gay Pride parade route in Chicago which would pass in front of the Roman Catholic church's doors. The church has asked the city to force organizers to alter their plans.

“I go with the pastor,” George said. “He's telling us that he won't be able to have services on Sunday if that's the case. You don't want the gay liberation movement morph into something like the Klu Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

George defended his stance when the host called it “a little strong.”

“It is, but you take a look at the rhetoric. The rhetoric of the Klu Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

An online petition launched Friday by Truth Wins Out calls George's remarks “outrageous.”

“This outrageous comparison of the LGBT community to the Ku Klux Klan was so degrading and hurtful that apologizing will not be sufficient,” the petition reads. “George's only road to redemption is handing in his resignation. If he has a shred of dignity and a shard of class he will immediately step down.”

An archdiocesan spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune that the cardinal's words could be “misinterpreted.”

“Whether it was the best choice of analogy I don't know. Taken out of context the meaning can be misinterpreted. I would suggest people read the whole interview.”

Nearly 3,000 people had signed by petition as of Saturday morning.

Last year, George opposed Illinois' civil unions law, which is now in effect.

“Marriage is what it is and always has been, no matter what a legislature decides to do; however, the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage,” he wrote.