Ark. Diocese Apologizes to Komen Group

Little Rock, USA - The leader of Little Rock's Roman Catholic diocese apologized to a national breast cancer organization, saying he made a mistake when he said donations to the group could help fund abortions.

Monsignor J. Gaston Hebert issued the statement Thursday after a meeting with staffers from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a Dallas-based organization known for its Race for the Cure events. In a letter last month, Hebert had asked parishioners to withhold their donations as Komen gives money to Planned Parenthood to provide breast exams and offer education to women in its clinics.

Hebert said his earlier contention _ that those donations could free up funding for abortions and contraceptive services _ "turned out not to be true. ... To let that statement stand would be an act of injustice."

Rebecca Gibson, a spokeswoman for the Komen foundation, released a statement thanking the Little Rock diocese for reaching out "to seek the truth from our organization."

Komen's funding for Planned Parenthood accounted for less than 1 percent of money given out through its grant program in 2007, according to Gibson. And she said the money goes strictly to a Planned Parenthood anti-cancer initiative and does not free up money for abortions.

Officials said Little Rock's Race for the Cure last year brought out more than 43,000 participants and raised more than $1.65 million.