Cardinal Francis George has apologized for comments comparing gay rights activists to the Ku Klux Klan.

“I am truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused,” George told the Chicago Tribune. “Particularly because we all have friends or family members who are gay and lesbian. This has evidently wounded a good number of people. I have family members myself who are gay and lesbian, so it's part of our lives. So I'm sorry for the hurt.”

George, the head of the Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Archbishop of Chicago, commented during a Fox Chicago interview that he believes a Gay Pride parade route in Chicago should be altered to avoid passing in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel's front doors.

“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.”

George defended his remarks in subsequent interviews, which led to several gay groups to call for his resignation.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said in a statement that George's apology was “important and will go some way toward healing the pain he has caused.”