Chris Harrison is stepping away from ‘Bachelor’ duties — including moderating the ‘After the Final Rose’ ceremony — and is once again apologizing for defending a contestant’s alleged racist past.

The longtime ‘Bachelor’ host issued a new, lengthier apology Saturday … this after he posted a quick one on Instagram a couple days ago that many felt was not up to par in addressing his recent remarks. Some said he was dismissive and excusing of racist behavior alleged against Rachael Kirkconnell — one of the final few women vying for Matt James‘ heart.

Chris’ statement is much more heartfelt than perhaps his initial remarks. He says … “I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike.”

He goes on to say by excusing historical racism, he defended it … and now realizes that was wrong, especially doing so in an interview with none other than Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first Black ‘Bachelorette.’ He says he’s been educated and open to being taught more about this topic, and promises to be more mindful about these issues in the future.

That said, Chris also broke some news about his time on camera … saying, after consulting with ABC execs, he’s decided it’s best if he skips the ‘After the Final Rose’ ceremony, where the lead man/woman gets to reflect in front of a live studio audience.

It’s unclear how long Chris plans to be absent from the series — usually, ‘The Bachelorette’ starts taping immediately after ‘The Bachelor’ wraps. In any case, he’s taking some time off.

Now, as for what the heck this is really all about … Chris basically stepped up to defend Kirkconnell after old photos of her at a college antebellum party surfaced — which many say celebrates the South’s racist past, and is part of Confederate culture. It’s a bad look.

There’s also a TikTok video out there that chronicled Kirkconnell’s social media history — including stuff she’d posted and liked in recent years … and there appears to be a lot of pro-Trump stuff, Confederate flag backdrops, MAGA shots and Blue Lives Matter posts.

She’s also alleged to have made fun of white friends of hers in high school for dating Black guys — but the evidence for that seems to be a little thin and less documented.

She’d been mostly silent over all the outrage that had been building, until Friday … when she issued this statement and an apology — copping to some of the social media activity, but not all of it.

Kirkconnell says a lot of the posts and behavior she engaged in occurred when she was young, and says she’s a different person now … realizing the hurt she inflicted. She notes her apology doesn’t mean she’s deserving of forgiveness, but she’s asking for it anyway.

It’s rumored Kirkconnell is one of the contestants who go the distance — time will tell how this plays out in the weeks ahead.

Per: TMZ

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