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.
Why the trend toward celibacy in gay enclaves?
At our community forum last week, one of our celibate lesbian facilitators
took questions from the floor and explained her transformation from fornication
Amber explained that it was not an easy decision having been acculturated in a fast paced
LGB world of multiple partners and one night stands. The ride on the merry go round had a price
and that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Amber's life changed when she jettisoned fornication and came out as celibate and found faith through the Bible.
This is just one person...and their remarkable story...more to come.
ONE PERSON indicates a trend?
How many times do you need to be bashed over the head with a bible to think like this?
Doogie thinks kilts are a 'trend'.
Reviewing the comments noticed someting interesting. Science PROVED it does not work the way the bible said it did !!!
All the facts are here on this tread. Peer reviewed !!!
Keep religion out of government please else your descendants will be living under sharia in the future.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
Myths, like Christianity?
...or rather, the fables Christianity is based on?
Will you people just succeed already?!?
Take your backward state, and your backward mentality and form your own nation of morons.
I will even come down and help you pack.
The sodomites have condemned themselves unless they repent from the sin of fornication.
The glorification of fornication has a price.
AIDS is skyrocketing again in gay enclaves throughout the nation.
Reach out to gays at your place of worship and let them know that when they abandon fornication and choose
celibacy, their lives will turn for the better.
With God it can be done!
Oh, Douglas. I feel sorry for you. It must be painful to hate yourself so much.
Is it a double sin to lie while taking an oath with two bibles?
Are we sure they are Bibles?? or are they korans??
Obama will be sworn in using 2 bibles at the inauguration. One being Abraham Lincolns and the other Martin Luther Kings. Odd as he has absolutely nothing in common with either man.
You said, "Obama will be sworn in using 2 bibles at the inauguration. One being Abraham Lincolns and the other Martin Luther Kings. Odd as he has absolutely nothing in common with either man."
He probably uses bibles to appease the christian dimwits that still run rampant in this country. The sane part of society probably recognizes the smoke and mirrors for what they are.
I still don't know whether Willard has gone to Nauvoo, Illinois or Independence, Missouri ??? Does anyone know the answer. Does the book of mormon now add a sequel about square boats going to Israel to take Willard and family acroos the Atlantic ? Do all the American Indians get to go ? Help I can't find the planet kolob on my celestial map !!!!!
Third star to the right, straight on 'til morning.
You probably would know it by its other name, neverland (not the M. Jackson version)
Obama picks D.C. Episcopal priest to deliver inauguration benediction
Allahu Akbar !!!
Please be seated.
Redneck in the heart of the Bible belt.
Orthodox Christianity, Islam and Judaism are firewalled against gay marriage
and acceptance of gay coitus.
These faiths form a morality firewall against the siege of sin sweeping acroos the nation like prairie fire.
Thank you Orthodox Christians, Jews and Moslems for remaining steadfast agaisnt sin.
Good news. The majority of rational humans recognize your obsession.
What the pastor should say but of course will not because he suffers from the Three B Syndrome i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in his religion:-->>>
(Only for the inauguration attendees, viewers and new members of this blog)
The Apostles' / Agnostics’ Creed/Benediction/Prayer 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)
Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????
I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)
Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,
He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.
(References used are available upon request.)
I've been online arguing with posters just for the sake of arguing.
Also I had to look up "benediction" in the dictionary. I wish they had just said "prayer".
Biological factors which may be related to the development of orientation include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure.
Of Obama he has to pick someone who supports the gay agenda! He can't think for himself on this issue! His kids direct him! What kind of a president lets his kids determine his values?
So you know his children? You certainly didn't meet them at Sidwell Friends.
Are you really that stupid?
Where does it say anything like what you're saying? And btw I think his kids are old enough and smart enough to have their own opinions.
"Of Obama he has to pick someone who supports the gay agenda!"
What agenda is that, equal rights?
"He can't think for himself on this issue!"
What makes you think this?
"What kind of a president lets his kids determine his values?"
What kind of person needs a book to determine his or her values?
LGBTQ need support as they transition from fornication to celibacy.
Pray for them at your place of worship.
Reach out and let them know that they are not alone in their journey.
Through prayer they will be made whole again.
How confining IS that closet, Doogie?
Doug, just admit you enjoy smuggling corn cob. You can now enjoy a full life with the man of your dreams, dancing the Salami Mambo all night long.
They found a person who call's him self a man of God, and does follow the word of God. What a joke, what is a Christian who does follow the doctrines of the Bible, one of many Anti Christ who follow after man made doctrines. He can deliver inauguration benediction to another Antichrist, everyone understands.
How cute. Another intolerant zealot, only this one links to a site where the christian persecution complex has gone into overdrive.
Is this just another sock puppet? Taking all bets! Giving 3 to 1 odds on a new troll!
"They found a person who call's him self a man of God"
1. there is no apostrophe in the word "calls"
2. "himself" is one word
Why do we even have to have this stupid prayer?
We got rid of prayer in schools, thank jeebus, but we still have to endure this useless waste of time?
To put it in perspective everything is a waste of time. Television, movies, fashion, celebrity scandals not to mention our entire lives in two hundred years time won't matter so what's the big deal now?
Our lives matter in THIS time frame. Religion does not.
Gir, your life matters as much as you think it does. Religion matters as much as people think it does. Why not attack "other" time wasters. Every played a video game? How about posting on line right now? Time wasters. It's what man does.
Episcopal – best choice for Gay President of America. Their prayer will be no better than gibberish tongue-speaking. God will not hear any of their noise.
You're seeing a whole team of therapists, aren't you ?
another pompous fvck who claims to know the mind of god
Episcopal?? When did BO become Episcopal? Ahhh, I see. The priest is Hispanic! Playing politics even with religion, huh BO?? Where's Reverend Wright, you hypocrite??
George W, Bush was an active Methodist when he chose this same minister. Did you complain then ?
Oh, shut up, Rudy, you flipping dork.
Right, Rudy....no politician has ever mixed religion and politics
The planet kolob awaits Willard.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.