Mourners pay tribute to Father George Clements during funeral at Holy Angels Church

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Family, friends and members of Holy Angels Catholic Church came together to pay tribute to Father George Clements during a funeral service Saturday.

A complicated figure in Chicago's Catholic community, Clements died Nov. 25 at the age of 87.

He served as the priest at Holy Angels in the Bronzeville neighborhood for more than 20 years.

"I felt that he was truly a man of God, a servant of God. He was speaking from his heart," said Carole Haymon, who attended Clements' funeral.

Clements' impact reached far beyond his hometown of Chicago. In 1980, he blazed a new trail for Catholic priests as the first to adopt a child. In all, he adopted four sons.

He also created One Church One Child to find adoptive homes for many more African American children in Illinois. The organization has since expanded across the country.

Clements was also a civil rights activist, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi. He was arrested along the way.

Clements also fought for black Catholics' voices during his more than 60 years in the priesthood.

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



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," said Joey Clements, the first of Father Clement's adopted sons.

The Archdiocese of Chicago said there will also be a memorial service for Clements next month on his birthday, January 26, at St. Sabina Church.
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