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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

McCain backer apologizes to Catholics


WASHINGTON - John Hagee, a televangelist who endorsed John McCain, apologized to Catholics yesterday for his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and for having "emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews."

Mr. Hagee's support for Mr. McCain has drawn cries of outrage from some Catholic leaders, who have called on the likely Republican nominee to reject Mr. Hagee's endorsement.

Mr. McCain has said he does not agree with some of Mr. Hagee's past comments, but did not reject his support.

In a letter to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, Mr. Hagee wrote:

"Out of a desire to advance a greater unity among Catholics and evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful."

Mr. Donohue, one of Mr. Hagee's sharpest critics, said he accepted the apology and planned to meet with Mr. Hagee tomorrow in New York.

"I got what I wanted," Mr. Donohue said in an interview. "He's seen the light, as they like to say. So for me it's over."

The controversy had threatened to pursue Mr. McCain throughout the campaign, potentially hurting his standing with Catholic voters.

A narrow majority of Roman Catholics voted for President Bush in 2004.

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