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Bishop Budde, Dean Hollerith apologize

Bishop Budde, Dean Hollerith apologize

From the statement by the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington, D.C.

I would like to apologize for the hurt caused in inviting Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral, and for not heeding the appeals that came to Dean Hollerith and me prior to Sunday, February 7 asking us to reconsider. I didn’t take the time to truly listen to your concerns. In a desire to welcome a wide variety of Christian voices to the Cathedral pulpit and on the assumption that Max Lucado no longer believed the painful things he said in 2004, I made you feel at risk and unwelcome in your spiritual home. I am sorry.

In the days since, I have heard from those who were not only wounded by things Max Lucado has said and taught, but equally wounded by the decision to welcome him into the Cathedral’s pulpit. I didn’t realize how deep those wounds were and how unsafe the world can feel. I should have known better.

More than apology, we seek to make amends. As a beginning, we invite all who wish to speak of their experiences in the church as LGBTQ+ persons and their allies to join Dean Hollerith and me for a listening session on Sunday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Register for the discussion

From the statement by  the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean, Washington National Cathedral 

Later, when people pointed out those writings to me, when they tried to tell me they were hurting because of this invitation, I didn’t listen. In my straight privilege I failed to see and fully understand the pain he has caused. I failed to appreciate the depth of injury his words have had on many in the LGBTQ community. I failed to see the pain I was continuing. I was wrong and I am sorry.

Related links:

National Cathedral invites preacher despite past anti-LGBTQ statements – The Lead

Fallout from Washington National Cathedral guest preacher a ‘teachable moment’ for the church – ENS

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Cynthia Katsarelis

Still processing this incident. We’re living in brutally traumatic times, and the less privileged you are, the more brutal the trauma. Both mental health illness and hate crimes are way up, for example. LGBTQ+ are the number 1 targets of hate crimes and online bullying. When I heard that NC was giving a platform to a preacher who taken horribly degrading positions against me, it was another trauma. Beastiality! Leads to polygamy and incest, he said. What a horrific attack on the human dignity of every LGBTQ+ person. I experienced it as a trigger that has reincarnated all of the horrific traumas of the past, all the homophobia, all of the internalized homophobia that I thought was gone. My sense of belonging has been shattered. My sleep and my dreams are unsettled. I lost my sanctuary. We’re living in isolation due to the pandemic, I can’t just go to my church for reassurance.

The dominant group does this to LGBTQ+ every few years. Time and time again, we are called to listen to their apologies, attend a webinar, and pretend that it’s all OK again when it really isn’t. I don’t believe that this agony will stop until the members of the dominant group (white and straight) begin to suffer consequences for the pain they cause. I want the NC incident to be the very last time that our wellbeing is sold out without our consent. And it’s why I’m going as far as saying that the Dean and the Bishop need to step down or be suspended until they can hear and center the voices of the marginalized over those of privilege.

How to avoid this in future? Every decision like this needs to be made with strong representation of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people at the table, representation that has veto power over insanely hurtful ideas such as the Lucado invitation – it was an egregious exercise in white straight privilege, so get rid of that privilege ASAP and replace it with equality.

Bruce Cornely

Sorry Bishops. Too little, too late. Those “at the top” need to learn to listen to those they SERVE rather than going their merry way ignoring needs and concerns, until the damage is done and they are called to task and, seemingly more important, embarrassed. Apologies seldom mean repentance.

Scott Arnold

I disagree. Sincere apologies almost always mean a change is occurring within the human heart. Those who refuse to accept that change thus now become the problem.

Bruce Cornely

I disagree. Sincere apologies quite often mean sorrow for being caught making a bad decision or revealing bad thoughts. The verbiage may change, the mind might change, but the heart seldom does. Relinquishment of staff and mitre are in order.

Cynthia Katsarelis

This isn’t our first rodeo with Episcopal leadership selling out our (LGBTQ+) wellbeing, fully expecting an apology and a webinar to “heal the wounds” without them losing anything more than an hour or two of their time. They are the problem, not the LGBTQ+ community.

Patrick Coleman

I might have been somewhat sympathetic to inviting Max Lucado to the cathedral if Lucado had agreed in return to have someone like Gene Robinson preach in his church. Was that idea ever suggested?

Cynthia K

Nope. Lots of people spoke in advance, there was even a petition. We told him about the dehumanizing writings like the bestiality bit. He broke it and cheap grace isn’t going to fix it. This is not our first rodeo with LGBTQ+ people being thrown under the bus by church leaders. But I want it to be our last one. I think the Dean needs to step down and repent from a position where his poor judgment can’t traumatize anyone else.

Eric Bonetti

Spot on, Cynthia. That was my recommendation—that Hollerith do all involved a favor and resign. Indeed, I increasingly suspect we are dealing with a narcissist—fine words upfront, absolutely no clue or comprehension or empathy involving the underlying issues.

Nor am I convinced this was a mistake. A mistake is when I try to tramp the brakes, but accidentally hit the gas pedal. In that case, the resulting collision indeed is a mistake,

In this case, however, we have the equivalent of a passenger saying, “Hey Eric. Slow down. There’s a stop sign coming.” Instead, I tramp on the gas, ignoring ever more fervent requests to hit the brake.

In that situation, is the collision that ensues a mistake? No, I think not. And while some might argue that this was a mistake in judgment, at some point we need to heed the advice of Maya Angelou, and listen the first time people like Randy Hollerith and +Budde show us who they are.

And while I appreciate +Budde’s desire to listen and make amends, this is a case of the car already being totaled. For those of us who have faced profound hatred and rejection from our biological family and others, we are not dealing with reconciliation and forgiveness. In many cases, we are confronted with the need to protect ourselves and those we love, to walk away, and to try not to feel disgust.

Having dealt with some other truly ugly misconduct in the Episcopal Church, I have been a cultural Episcopalian for some time now. What I kiddingly call the Max Debacle is simply the nail in the lid of the coffin. And yes, I will attend the upcoming listening session, if for no other reason than to myself listen. But any church that can act so badly is one I simply cannot support.

That also raises the question: If +Budde and Randy Hollerith are so clueless about anti-LGBTQ+ bias within the church, how can they have any hope of understanding or achieving racial reconciliation outside the church? It is, I think, a fair question.

Finally, a suggestion for +Budde and Hollerith, which they no doubt will ignore. Sometimes, the most useful allies are our most vociferous critics, Both would be well-served to take Hollerith’s advice about not only listening to those who agree with us, and instead broaden their decision points so they are not beholden to a Q-Anon style echo chamber of sycophants and colleagues.

As things stand, I am far from convinced that +Budde or Hollerith understand the mess they have made.

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