Within hours after Cardinal Francis George raised strong objections, local officials and organizers announced an agreement Wednesday evening to have a later starting time for the 2012 Gay Pride Parade .
Instead of beginning at 10 a.m. on the final Sunday in June, the annual event will now kick off at noon.
In an interview for FOX Chicago Sunday , the Cardinal said he shared the concerns of the pastor at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish, Rev. Thomas Srenn.
While discussing the dispute over the parade route and its timing, the Cardinal told FOX Chicago News:
“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. 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. Then I think that’s a matter of concern for all of us.”
Without consulting the church, officials changed the timing and the parade route to take it past the parish on West Belmont. Fr. Srenn said he feared huge crowds might prevent worshippers from attending Sunday morning mass on the day of the parade.
Officials estimated that more than 750,000 watched the parade last June, causing problems with traffic and crowd control as the parade would somewhat backwards, in a V-shaped pattern. The 2012 parade will start at 10 a.m. (to cut down on drinking) and take a more direct route.
"It seems to us that this parade route and time is workable," said parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer. "This church has multiple masses that go on... they could say for people to come to an earlier mass."
The parish is home to AGLO, a gay and lesbian outreach group of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Cardinal George backs the group and has taken part in its liturgies. In the interview, he further explained his support for AGLO.
“Well, you start with respect. You start with people who are homosexually oriented, gays and lesbians. However they picture themselves, you start with respect,” the cardinal said.
"So, if they want to publicly be part of that community, you still have to see to it that they have the spiritual helps -- the sacraments, the preaching of the Gospel that they need to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ, which means to live chastely if you're not married."
Many groups supportive of the Gay Pride Parade and the gay rights movement are calling the Cardinal's comments hurtful and demeaning.
“We have not been violent in seeking out our rights, so for the Cardinal to then equate our movement with one of the most heinous and murderous organizations in the history of our country, is just baffling,” Dignity Chicago’s Martin Grochala said. “So I'm not sure where he's coming from with that, I think it needs further clarification from him.”
Grochala went on to say that “people are going to take great offense at the comparison.”
Openly gay State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), whose district includes the Gay Pride parade route, criticized the Cardinal’s “unfortunate choice of words.” Harris predicted “it probably will provoke other unfortunate words” from some gay activists.
The parade is held on the last Sunday in June.