The Texas megachurch pastor whose past comments about the Catholic Church have caused headaches for John McCain for over two months will issue an apology to Catholics later today, according a top Christian conservative.
John Hagee, pastor of San Antonio's Cornerstone Church, will send a letter to Catholic League President William Donahue expressing "deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful."
"After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism," Hagee wrote in a letter running just over two pages.
In a carefully-coordinated plan, Donahue accepted the apology with a statement of his own.
“The tone of Hagee’s letter is sincere," Donahue said. "He wants reconciliation and he has achieved it. Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology."
The conservative leader who shared the letter said McCain's campaign was not involved at all in encouraging Hagee to apologize.
Donahue has been among Hagee's most outspoken critics and called on McCain to repudiate the pastor soon after Hagee endorsed the Republican in March.
Hagee has drawn fire for describing Catholicism as "a Godless theology of Hate" and, what some have interpreted as, "the Great Whore."
Hoping to knock Mike Huckabee out of the race, McCain secured Hagee's public endorsement in the days before the March 4th Texas primary. But since then, the GOP candidate has been dogged by questions over why he would accept support from somebody who not only has criticized Catholics but also asserted that Hurricane Katrina was part of God's punishment for the decadence of New Orleanians.
McCain has not disavowed Hagee's endorsement, but has said that it was probably a mistake to pursue. A spokesperson for the candidate declined to comment on Hagee's apology