Retired Chicago priest, Civil Rights activist Father George Clements dies at 87

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Monday, November 25, 2019
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A complicated figure in Chicago's catholic community, Father George Clements, died Monday at the age of 87.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A complicated figure in Chicago's Catholic community, Father George Clements, died Monday at the age of 87.

St. Sabina Pastor Michael Pfleger confirmed Clements died at a hospital in Hammond, Ind.

"I lost a great father today," said Joey Clements, the first of Father Clement's adopted sons. "I lost a great man."

After suffering a stroke and surviving cardiac arrest this fall his adopted sons said Father George Clements decided it was time to go home.

"The family wants to extend our gratitude for all of the well wishers, cards, letters, donations," Joey said.

Father Clements legacy stretches back decades beginning with the fight for civil rights.

Clements served as pastor of Holy Angels Parish for many years and was an activist involved in the Civil Rights movements.

"He's the one that hid Bobby Rush when he was a Black Panther and they were searching for him," said Father Pfleger.

Clements was partially known for his fight to make sure black Catholics had a place at the table, as well as made black Catholics proud to be who they were.

He adopted four sons of his own when they were teenagers in 1980 to help give homeless black children a home.

"Since then over 400,000 homeless children have been adopted through the program of 'One Church, One Child,'" said Joey.

However, in last August, Cardinal Blase Cupich asked Clements to step aside from the ministry following allegations of sex abuse dating back to 1970s.

Clements called that accusation "totally unfounded."

The Chicago Archdiocese confirmed that the investigation will continue despite his death.

RELATED: Retired priest George Clements accused of sex abuse in 1970s

"I do believe my father will be exonerated on all these charges," Joey said.

Clements marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi, and was arrested. Clements was also the first Catholic priest to become more than a spiritual father, but also a legal father by adopting children.

Clements was also one of the first to welcome former President Barack Obama to Chicago, but he never imagined Obama would one day be the President of the United States.

RELATED: Father George Clements reflects on 60 years of service and activism

"I thought how can somebody with a crazy name like that ever become popular!" he told ABC7 in 2017. "And I just think you know Barack Obama wow! He defied all the odds he didn't let that stop him."