The Rev. George Clements, a civil rights activist whose life was turned into a made-for-TV movie after he became the first Catholic priest to adopt a child, died Monday (Nov. 25) at age 87.
Clements reportedly had suffered a stroke and heart attack within the last month.
In a statement on Facebook, the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago called Clements "a Pioneer for Justice who spent his life helping people."
"He pushed the Catholic church to be inclusive and made black Catholics proud to be Catholic," Pfleger said.
Clements was active in the civil rights movement, marching alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
A Chicago native, he became the first African American graduate of Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in 1945 and the second African American priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1957, according to the Sun-Times.
He became the first black pastor of Holy Angels Catholic Church in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago in 1969.
That's where he led the "One Church, One Child" program, encouraging Catholic churches to find adoptive parents for black children.
In 1980, Clements adopted his first son, Joey. Their story was shared in the 1987 movie The Father Clements Story, starring Louis Gossett Jr. as Clements, Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Joey and Carroll O'Connor as Cardinal John Cody.
Three more sons joined their family: Friday, Stewart and Saint Anthony.
"I lost a great father today. I lost a great man," Friday Clements told CBS 2 Chicago.
Clements later started similar programs including One Church, One Addict and One Church, One Inmate, according to the Sun-Times.
"The priesthood is a vocation. But then along the way, one gets avocations, and mine were three: homelessness, addicts and prisoners," he told Sun-Times columnist Maudlyne Ihejirika in 2017.
Clements retired in 2006 and, earlier this year, was asked by Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich to step aside from ministry after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1974 while pastoring Holy Angels.
He told the Chicago Sun-Times at the time that the allegation was "totally unfounded," and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services later told the newspaper "there was nothing to support it."
The archdiocese's investigation reportedly is ongoing.
© 2019 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
It's a NEW YEAR! Get ready for a NEW YOU!
- New Year Discounts On Book Bundles & Gifts: Click Here to view all our bundles and save up to 72%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
- Go Deeper with God in a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all eight of our free courses. Topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
- Anointed Woman Of God: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
- Never Stop Praying - Prayer Changes Everything! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
- New Year - New You - Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for two years for Only $29.97 and get two free gifts. Gift #1 The Harbinger. Gift #2 The Harbinger II. Both books are by New York Times Best-Selling author Jonathan Cahn. View Offer