May 13th, 2008
02:15 PM ET
15 years ago

Pastor Hagee to meet with Catholic League

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pastor Hagee apologized for his controversial remarks Tuesday."]
(CNN) - Texas pastor John Hagee - whose endorsement has proven problematic for John McCain's presidential campaign - will meet with Catholic League President Bill Donahue this week, CNN has learned.

Hagee apologized Tuesday for controversial remarks that drew fire from Catholic activists.

In a statement posted on the Catholic League's Web site, Hagee said that "contructive dialogue" with Catholics has given him an "improved understanding" of the church's history.

"I got what I wanted," Donahue, who had refused requests from Hagee to meet until a public apology was issued, told CNN. "I wasn't interested in sweet talk but rather a real apology, and that's what this is."

Donahue also confirmed that Hagee met with Catholic activists last Friday in Washington, D.C.

The Democratic National Committee said Tuesday that McCain should weigh in on Hagee's other headline-grabbing statements.

“...Unless John McCain’s idea of being a new kind of Republican includes cozying up to radicals who compare women to dogs, hold racially insensitive fundraisers and call one of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history God’s punishment, he should renounce John Hagee’s endorsement immediately," said DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney. "Given John McCain’s history of putting political calculations ahead of his principles, we’re not holding our breath.”

UPDATE: McCain told reporters Tuesday afternoon that he had not been involved in arranging the apology, but called Hagee's letter "helpful," and related it to his own history of unlikely reconciliation.

"I reconciled with the anti-war moment; I reconciled with [the late anti-war activist] David Ifshin; I reconciled with the Vietnamese in interest of healing the wounds of war," he said. "So I believe the fact that these two individuals came together is a laudable thing and a testimony to both individuals and their principles, which are Judeo-Christian values."

He also declined to distance himself from Hagee. "Look, as I've said many times I've accepted his endorsement. I didn't endorse everything that he said.

"The point is that the fact that he has made an apology I think is very helpful. Whether somebody apologizes for something they thing that they did wrong then I think that that's a laudable thing to do."

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