By Lisa Desjardins and Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The president has picked a neighbor to deliver the closing prayer at the inauguration.
The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House, dubbed the “Church of the Presidents.”
"I found out last week,” he told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
A source close to the inaugural committee confirmed León would be delivering the benediction and said a formal announcement would be coming later in the week.
The historic church León has pastored since 1995 has been connected to every president since its founding in 1815. Inside the historic building, Pew 54 is reserved for presidents whenever they come to worship.
President Barack Obama and his family have worshiped at the church numerous times during his first term. They have visited the church more times than any other during his presidency, and the president and León are said to have a good relationship.
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León’s benediction will mark his second appearance on the inauguration stage. In 2005 he delivered the invocation for the President George W. Bush’s second inauguration.
"You don't get used to this. I'm just as nervous now as I was the first time,” León said. “From the moment someone asks you to do that, your wheels are spinning with what to say. So my wheels were spinning now."
León was the president’s second choice for the benediction.
The selection comes less than a week after Louie Giglio, an evangelical pastor from Atlanta, bowed out of the closing prayer after a sermon he delivered in the mid-1990s surfaced that critics called “vehemently anti-gay.” Giglio’s sermon has been defended by some socially conservative Christians as ardently as critics have opposed it. Giglio, known for his work in raising awareness of and combating global slavery, withdrew the morning after the sermon was posted by liberal advocacy website Think Progress. Giglio said in a letter to the White House and the inaugural committee, “it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration.”
CNN: Giglio bows out of inauguration over sermon on gays
After Giglio withdrew, a spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said they were "not aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this Inaugural."
“I don't mind being in the bullpen; relievers are very important," León said, smiling. He added, "I was delighted to be asked and honored to be asked."
León said it will be important for him to craft a prayer for the present time. He said he’s talking and listening closely to those around him for inspiration on what he will say when he steps up to the microphone.
“I think when we're asking a blessing for this country,” he said, “I think we're asking God to lift us up, to lift up what's good in us. To remind us of what's good in us and remind us to do what's proper, what's the good, the right thing for the country."
León, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in Guantanamo, Cuba. He came the United States in 1961 at age of 11 as one of the "Peter Pan children.” At the time, many Cuban parents sent their children out of Cuba fearing Fidel Castro's regime would take them and put them in camps. León’s mother eventually joined them in the United States.
There are large issues facing his adoptive country, León said. "The thing that I think is on everyone's mind is, how are we going to work together? You know, everybody, after each election, talks about mandates. My perspective is the American people's mandate is to work it out. And somehow we need to be drawn together by that which binds us and not that which separates us. I think that's mostly on everybody's mind."
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León also said the president and the vice president will be attending a pre-inauguration service at Saint John’s on Monday morning.
The Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican tradition, voted at their annual convention in July to approve the blessing of same-sex ceremonies. Such services are not considered marriage ceremonies, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge told CNN at the time.
"We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage," Davidge said. "A blessing is a theological response to a monogamous, committed relationship."
The move makes the church, with 2 million adherents, the largest U.S. denomination to sanction such ceremonies. Earlier this month the Washington National Cathedral announced it would begin hosting such ceremonies immediately following the implementation of a Maryland law allowing same-sex marriage.
Thank God we will not have a mormon bishop like Willard there. I hope Willard went to his planet of kolob to wait either his 70 or 87 wives depending on which prophet you believe in. Joseph Smith had 87 wives and Brigham Young had 70 wives. Now that Anne Romney has gotten over her crying hysteria over losing maybe she will be happy with dancing with the stars. Still don't know whether Nauvoo, Illinois or Independence, Missouri is where the second coming will be for the mormon cult. Anyone have some incite to that ???
I wonder why they never invite someone like Jimmy Swaggart or Matt Sorger or John Paul Jackson or Rev. Franklin Graham to do something like this. Having True Preachers be in Washington. Bring the Cross and Jesus Christ back to our Country
You are free to have both the cross and Jesus in your life. If you want government sanction, you will continue to be disappointed.
Are you speaking of the same Jimmy Swaggart who had the pros-ti-tute's undies on his head?
How about good ol' Ted Haggard? Bring some real religion back to DC!
Good, at least one monkey dosn't stop the show.
the episcopal church is more progressive than most and I am proud to be a member. Of course we have priests but they can marry and you can call them pastors if you like. They are not offended and what's the difference if a priest or pastor gives the benediction? It has always been given by a clergy reguardless of denomination. So what's with the stupid comments. For all you Christians remember God is Love and for all you none Christians God is still Love. People should be able to believe what and how they want without the Christian police telling them they are going to hell.
The christian god is all things. He is as much hate as he is love, despises you as much as he hates you. You choose to focus on the positive, but didn't your god create the satan that you fear so much? See what happens when you start asking a few simple questions. The whole thing starts to unravel
Nicely put. I am a non-Episcopal who attended an Episcopal high school for two years and never had any issues with the church. Christianity is not my thing, but these folks certainly presented a good version of the system.
If I was one of your priests and Obama came sniffing around I'd hand him a bucket and a mop.
Where is the president's view on a "healthy" pluralism now?
Virtually every Roman Catholic pontiff, Muslim imam, Jewish rabbi, and the vast majority of evangelical pastors all hold to an opposing view on ho.mo.se.xuality.
And yet his inaugural committee clearly (hypocritically) frowns upon such a position: "...they don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country..."
Clearly, the country is divided. But let's not call it "strength & diversity" & then turn around and OVERTLY disapprove of such diversity. Do you embrace those with whom you disagree or not?
Do you embrace white supremacists? No one ever claimed to embrace all views and opinions, that's just your oversimplification. The world is far more complex than that, and most of us don't live in a fantasy world where ethical systems are summed up in a few words.
Inclusion and diversity precludes tolerance for division and suppression.
@ weight: you are using self-contradictory terms now.
inclusion & diversity BY DEFINITION include diversity – even those with whom you disagree.
you are ADDING to that definition with your presuppositions.
And that's precisely my point. You can't use such words to marginalize those with whom you disagree, when you yourself are guilty of doing the VERY SAME THING.
@Russ, I'm afraid you are the one making things up. Inclusion and diversity mean no such thing 'by definition'. Try a dictionary and post here if you find a single one that for either word includes the term 'all'. They are simply terms that refer to expanding the range of items in the class.
@ saraswati: note my comments to weightinwords.
i do not embrace white supremacists – but I'm not the one claiming to be all-inclusive.
and that's my point: this discussion is not really about being inclusive. that's a purposeful distraction.
the argument b/t us is not "who is inclusive?" but rather "what is the proper moral grounding for our beliefs/ethics/etc.?"
we are EQUALLY exclusive here. we both believe white supremacists are wrong, but my moral grounding speaks against things that you celebrate – and vice versa. the entire discussion is about our foundation, not about "inclusivism." it's political spin. it's dodging the central issue.
the president doesn't believe in any sort of real or tangible inclusion & diversity, or he would have stood FOR pluralism & AGAINST 'Think Progress'. Half the country believes the g.ay lobby is wrong. Virtually no one believes white supremacists are right. Don't try to distract from the point. Does Obama believe in a pluralism that embraces the HALF of the country with whom he disagrees?
Generalize & exaggerate much, Russ? "[Every] Jewish rabbi" – really? Even the Wiki page for Judaism & s exual orientation states "The Reform Judaism movement, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, has rejected the traditional view of Jewish Law on this issue."
@russ: we point out continually that your "moral grounding" is based on a book that is immoral. It condones slavery, murder, rape and incest.
@Russ, again I point out that you are misunderstanding what people mean by inclusion (see above).
inclusion & diversity BY DEFINITION include diversity – even those with whom you disagree.
It isn't about disagreement. I concur that inclusion and diversity includes those with whom I disagree. However in this particular instance, it is about division and the perception of intolerance. Completely different things that contradict the idea of inclusion and diversity (even if diversity includes those who are intolerant...it's something of a paradox).
you are ADDING to that definition with your presuppositions.
I am supposing nothing here, nor adding to any definition.
Who have I marginalized? Have I said anything that minimizes or dismisses anyone?
The fact is, I had no problem with Giglio. It was his choice to step down. I don't agree with the hoopla the LGBT watchdogs raised over his appointment, since he was chosen for good reasons, not because of his stance on homosexuality.
The White House opted to invite someone they presume will not be offensive to anyone, someone who conceivably represents their desire to be inclusive of all people, and clearly someone they are familiar with. I don't know the man, so I can't say a word about him.
@ Frank: yes, I should have included the word "orthodox" before "rabbi", but don't use that to dodge the main point.
it certainly is NO exaggeration or generalization to note that the nation is divided (HALF disagree).
so the point still holds: are you for free speech & pluralism or against it?
"I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
@ End Religion:
not only are you purposefully misrepresenting those with whom you disagree, but you are attempting to silence your opponents in falsely representing them. That's certainly the opposite of an open market of ideas or freedom of speech...
The cross is the centerpiece of Christian understanding of those atrocities. What does it mean?
1) We all deserve death for such things (our condition is worse than we want to admit)
2) God loves us so much that he would die in our place to heal us (it's better than we ever dared hope)
@ saraswati: per your request, according to Webster's...
a: broad in orientation or scope
b: covering or intended to cover all items, costs, or services
@Russ, Imasked for a definition of inclusion and you gave me a definition for inclusive – a different word.
@ saraswati: am i to suppose inclusive (the adjectival form of inclusion) carries a *different* meaning?
There is no such thing as an "Episcopal Pastor." There are Episcopal Laymen, Episcopal Deacons, Episcopal Priests, Episcopal Bishops and Archbishops, but not "Pastors."
Pastor can be used as a generic word to describe the person in charge of the church, it doesn't have to be a specific title bestowed by the church.
Although we don't call our Priests "Pastor", the actual word means "Shepherd" ... as a shepherd of a flock, and so it's not wrong to refer to an Episcopal Priest or Catholic Priest as "pastor"
Wrong! "Interim pastor" is a common Episcopal term for the priest leading a parish while it is in the process of finding a permanent rector.
Any of you Obama lovers look at your most recent paychecks – notice it a little lighter? Mine was the smallest I received since starting this job and that is with raises along the way. Obama is the worst excuse for a President since Carter, maybe ever (BTW I am not in the $400,000+ tax bracket just in case you liberals jump to that conclusion – solid middle class and I got screwed by your inferior deity).
Jean ... was the higher amount taken from your paycheck Federal Taxes or Social Security/Medicare Tax? All other Americans that I know of had a higher amount of Social Security tax withheld from their paychecks, not Federal Taxes. I truly am sorry for Americans who bear such animosity for President Obama, because it means another 4 years of your side feeling that you are being disenfranchised and unwilling to participate in making this The UNITED States of America, rather than what you might have hoped for had your candidate been elected.
You do realize that the taxes are not Obama's decision alone? The Congress bears a big part of the blame on this, dragging their feet and blocking anything and everything that could bring the middle class relief. Don't blame Obama alone.
The people I hear complaining about taxes are almost always living beyond their means...houses too big, too many vacations, too many kids. I would be happy to pay higher taxes to provided basic services like universal healthcare.
My paycheck is higher, Jean
And, no, we do not want fries with that
You do realize that taxes were higher when Reagan was President, don't you Jean? Do you use roads, Jean? Do you support our military? Do you have a friend or parent who collects Social Security, or will you someday collect it yourself?
I'm sorry that paying for what you use gets in the way of your personal greed, Jean. Sometimes being a responsible adult is difficult.
Worst president since Carter? How about two-wars-smirk?
For folks like Jean, all political history began in January of '09.
Your paycheck was higher last year because of the Payroll Tax Cut, introduced/sponsored by Obama, that expired at the beginning of this year. So, you should be thanking him for a higher paycheck for the last 2-3 years.
But you probably already knew that and just wanted to spin it.
"I would be happy to pay higher taxes to provided basic services like universal healthcare."
Since when is health care a basic service?
"Complaining" about taxes is one of the few ways to keep government honest. Citizens should always be vigilant against government excesses.
"I'm sorry that paying for what you use gets in the way of your personal greed..."
Some of us don't use Medicaid, food stamps, disability, welfare, etc. Additionally, private healthcare, as opposed to universal/government, is the essence of paying for what you get.
Additionally, Social Security was once paid for in an 8-to-1 ratio, if I remember correctly, now it is 3-to-1, so what was once reasonable, perhaps, may no longer be.
Some of us don't receive massive subsidies for our billion dollar industries, either. I'm okay with the elderly and the truly poor getting government help, but do the wealthy really need our tax money?
Hey, I'm all for closing loopholes! They shouldn't be there in the first place.
I suppose all of the vociferous atheists who came out in droves against the religious meaning of Christmas, as well as offering thier brand of false comfort to the victims in Newtown, will be up in arms that the President has a religious benediction at the inauguration. Cannot wait to see what the NYT op-ed has to say about this. Wait!! I forgot it's Obama, Mr. can-do-no-wrong, I stand corrected – there will be complete and total silence from the atheists.
There is no war on Christmas, no atheists "who came out in droves against the religious meaning of Christmas". This is a falsehood perpetuated by certain factions who benefit from riling up conservative Christians. No one is trying to take your God away from you, or take your holiday away from you.
As to your idea that anyone who doesn't believe as you do can only offer "false comfort" well, that says a lot more about you than it does about them, doesn't it?
Jean, I find it inspiring to read and hear stories of those who have been involved in "offering hope" and helping to offer consolation and be a part of the healing for the families in Newtown. I would love to hear what part you have had in that? As for Atheists or anyone else, I think that the people of Newtown or any other place where tragedy has been experienced, welcome any help and encouragement that is forthcoming.
You are a sad, bitter person, Jean. Is this what christianity does for a person's character? I'm glad I'm an atheist.
Jean: You make an awful lot of a$$umptions. Of course, it saves time from actually thinking
"Against the religious meaning of Christmas"? Apparently history isn't a strong subject for you, because Christmas past placed on the pagan holiday of Saturnalia. You also DO understand even in the Bible Jesus was not born on Dec. 25th?
Jean, didn't read many of the comments, did you? There is no need for any religious mumbo-jumbo at the inauguration, it is simply pandering to small-minded people such as yourself. Swearing an oath on a stack of bibles is hypocrisy, but all evidence points to the fact that nutters appreciate and practice the same hypocrisy and so expect it of others. The President is trying to appease you with this hypocrisy. Isn't that thoughtful of him?
No such thing as an "Episcopal priest."
Obviously, you are not an Episcopalian. Our pastors are All priests. Some are elevated to theories of Bishop and we have a Presiding Bishop who oversees all the dioceses. All members of the Episcopal faith are considered members of God's eternal priesthood.
As an Eiscopalian, I was surprised to discover that there is "no such thing as an Episcopal Priest". Is this a punchline for a joke, or what am I missing here?
Today let all morally decent people everywhere recognize that the so called atheist is exposed as a vicious, hate filled liar that has no place in this world or the next.
Oh, the irony...
Oh the Truth.
Lying troll...DO NOT FEED THE TROLL
Thank you "really" for proving my comment Truth.
I haven't proven anything you lying troll. You wouldn't know truth if it punched you in the face.
tbt is a troll cvnt
A religionist wouldn't know proof if it punched him in the face.
Truth below Time will either expose or promote.
PBS – Nova have the smoking gun if you want to believe it or not.
Have a common sense day !
Has this truth be told nutter ever backed up any of her little emotional outbursts?
"so called atheist is exposed as a vicious, hate filled liar that has no place in this world or the next."
More lying from the xtians – 112!
This doc-umentary states it has the smoking gun. Jan 9 2013
PBS Nova Decoding Neanderthals doc-umentary
It is in public schools in the US already !!!
Why does king obama need a priest to bless the gays at his inuguration
In case you didn't get the memo, or just aren't all that intelligent, PRESIDENT Obama was elected by a majority of the popular vote, not once but TWICE (53% in 2008 and 51% in 2012). He also received an overwhelming number of electoral votes in each election (365 and 332 respectively). I realize that this concept is difficult for conservatives to understand, but MOST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT PRESIDENT OBAMA AS THEIR LEADER. They've said so not once, but TWICE. Furthermore, he is only 1 of 4 Presidents in the past 100 years to receive a majority of the popular votes twice. Only FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan done this as well. Moreover, his party picked up 2 seats in the Senate and 8 in the House in the past election. The Democrats would have taken control of the House had the Republicans not gerrymandered their districts in 2010 as they received more actual votes than the Republicans did in the 2012 House election. So, relax, take some deep breaths, and just know that the person who the American people want to lead this nation is in charge and will be in charge for the next 4 years.
jerry: kings are not elected. obama was. enjoy your hissy fit
veritas: please do not confuse inbred fvcknuts like jerry with conservatives
cnn is owned by atheists
Time Warner is a publicly traded company. If you have mutual funds, you're probably an owner now or have been at some time.
"cnn is owned by atheists"
noreen, bad news, atheists own the world. We only let christiasn rent it for a while. We have clauses in our Wills passing it down to our children. Might want to take this matter up with your impotent god.
we live in perilous times and the christian believers will be liberated from the unbelievers who will spend eternity in hell with satan.
your empty proxy threats are laughable. now, b1tch, get back on your knees
Better an eternity in hell then 10 minutes in your kind of heaven with people like you
I wuz told he was a sekrit muzlim from my teabaggger friends.
Jack, you idiot, din't I tell you stop attending Klan meetings !!
He didn't pick is favorite 'Wright'?
Yes, Jeremiah right was so beloved by President Obama that the President left Wright's church and publically disavowed him. Get a clue, genius. He won by a majority of the popular vote twice and received an overwhelming majority of the electoral vote twice.
Don't take a bus trip with him.
Like it really matters who does the rain dance . . .
Why is any time and money wasted on this religious garbage - its time to get this craaap out of politics
Well that didn't take long. A proper politically-correct minister was successfully located. Thank goodness. The country is safe once again.
I hope the inauguration will not keep obama from praying towards mecca throughout the day. Allah will not wait for infidel ways.
You display your ignorance. You are a divisive person and part of the problem in our world.
Now now, remember, Joe is just repeating what Rush told him to think today. You have to consider the fact that the Joes of America confine themselves for hours on end pumping themselves full of propaganda, and they have nobody left who will listen to them. If he doesn't post here, it'll be Kalashnikov show-and-tell-and-blaze at the local grade school.
And don't get angry at Limbaugh – if it weren't for people like Rush's daily show, guys like Joe wouldn't know what their opinions are.
agree with above - please don't breed
Now the diversity luvin' people are dissin' divisiveness. Nutsoism is all the rage.
lol??: Still got that verbal men-str-uation going, gash?
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