On the Archdiocese website, George wrote that he was "sorry for the hurt" his remarks caused.
"I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families," said George in the statement. "I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church's liberty. This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said."
The cardinal's original comments involved next summer's Pride Parade and whether it would interfere with services at a Lakeview Catholic church. He compared the possible interference with Catholic worship to that stemming from KKK parades last century.
In comments later, George said it is absurd to compare gays and lesbians to the Klan and added he was only comparing parades to parades, not people to people.
Friday night, the Rainbow Sash Movement thanked the cardinal for what it called his sincere words, and it canceled a planned protest demonstration.
The chief executive officer of advocacy group Equality Illinois, Bernard Cherkasov, also responded to George's statement Friday.
"It appears that the Cardinal has had a chance to reflect on the deeply hurtful and destructive statement he had made on Christmas day in comparing the movement for LGBT equality to the Ku Klax Klan," said Cherkasov. "His apology is important and will go some way toward healing the pain he has caused. However, his actions will speak louder than words, and we will be paying attention to see if his words translate into acts of dignity and respect towards LGBT people."
Statement from Francis Cardinal George
"During a recent TV interview, speaking about this year's Gay Pride Parade, I used an analogy that is inflammatory.
"I am personally distressed that what I said has been taken to mean that I believe all gays and lesbians are like members of the Klan. I do not believe that; it is obviously not true. Many people have friends and family members who are gay or lesbian, as have I. We love them; they are part of our lives, part of who we are. I am deeply sorry for the hurt that my remarks have brought to the hearts of gays and lesbians and their families.
"I can only say that my remarks were motivated by fear for the Church's liberty. This is a larger topic that cannot be explored in this expression of personal sorrow and sympathy for those who were wounded by what I said."
Source: Archdiocese of Chicago website