The Rev. Luis León, the Episcopal priest who was chosen to replace Louie Giglio of Passion City Church for President Barack Obama's benediction on Inauguration Day, said in his prayer that both gay and straight people were created in God's image.
"With the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor," said León, who has led Saint John's Church in Washington, D.C., since 1995.
Pastor Giglio was first invited to deliver the benediction, but after several liberal websites highlighted comments he made nearly 20 years ago about homosexualty being a sin, the Passion City Church leader decided to pull out of the ceremony, saying that his ministry is now focused on other issues, such as ending global slavery, and does not wish to be a part of the gay debate.
As many predicted, a gay-affirming pastor was chosen to replace Giglio, which the White House said represented the administration's inclusive worldview.
Rev. León, a Cuban immigrant, began his benediction on Monday with a call to prayer, and ended his speech in his native Spanish, addressing Obama as "Señor Presidente." León also gave the invocation during George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration ceremony, and has now become the first Latino pastor to perform the presidential benediction.
León's full benediction can be read below:
Gracious and eternal God, as we conclude the second inauguration of President Obama, we ask for your blessings as we seek to become, in the words of Martin Luther King, citizens of a beloved community, loving you and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
We pray that you will bless us with your continued presence because without it, hatred and arrogance will infect our hearts. But with your blessing we know that we can break down the walls that separate us. We pray for your blessing today because without it, distrust, prejudice and rancor will rule our hearts. But with the blessing of your presence, we know that we can renew the ties of mutual regard which can best form our civic life.
We pray for your blessing because without it suspicion, despair, and fear of those different from us will be our rule of life. But with your blessing, we can see each other created in your image, a unit of God's grace, unprecedented, irrepeatable (sic) and irreplaceable.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will only see scarcity in the midst of abundance. But with your blessing we will recognize the abundance of the gifts of this good land with which you have endowed this nation.
We pray for your blessing. Bless all of us, privileged to be citizens and residents of this nation, with a spirit of gratitude and humility that we may become a blessing among the nations of this world. We pray that you will shower with your life-giving spirit, the elected leaders of this land, especially Barack our president and Joe our vice president. Fill them with a love of truth and righteousness, that they may serve this nation ably and be glad to do your will. Endow their hearts with wisdom and forbearance, so that peace may prevail with righteousness, justice with order, so that men and women throughout this nation can find with one another the fulfillment of our humanity.
We pray that the president, vice president and all in political authority will remember the words of the prophet Micah, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and always walk humbly with God?"
Señor Presidente, señor Vicepresidente, que Dios bendiga todos sus días. Todo esto lo ruego, en el más santo nombre, Amén.
Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, may God bless you all your days. All this we pray, in your most holy name, amen.