This story has been amended and updated.
The Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and the Very Reverend Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, have written statements responding to protests from many over the National Cathedral’s decisions to host the inaugural interfaith prayer service on Saturday, January 21, and for its choir to sing at the inauguration on January 20. Bishop Budde’s statement can be here; following are excerpts:
First, I want to acknowledge the anger and disappointment that our decisions have engendered. And to say that I’m listening, because the spiritual principles that move many of you to protest are essential for the work that lies ahead. While I do not ask you to agree, I simply ask you to consider that we, too, acted on spiritual principles. Those principles, while they may seem to conflict with yours, are also essential for the work that lies ahead.
Bishop Budde expands on three principles – first, that “we welcome all people into our houses of prayer.”
The second spiritual principle that informs my decision is that in times of national division, the Episcopal Church is called to be a place where those who disagree can gather for prayer and learning and to work for the good of all. I am alarmed by some of Mr. Trump’s words and deeds and by those who now feel emboldened to speak and act in hateful ways. Nonetheless, I believe in the power of God to work for good, and the capacity of our nation to rise to our highest ideals. As President Obama said in his last speech, our nation’s future will be determined by our resolve to “restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.” I ask the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to join me in dedication to that purpose, in faithfulness to Christ and as ones who cherish the gift of democracy.
The decisions were made in the hope of offering “a few moments of spiritual solace and the healing gift of transcendent beauty.” Participation in the inauguration is voluntary.
From the Dean’s statement, which can be read in full here:
As Christians, we are called, among other things, to be a people of peace and agents of reconciliation. Our choir is singing at the inauguration to honor the peaceful transition of power that is at the heart of our democratic government. Let me be clear: We do not pray or sing to bless a political ideology or partisan agenda, regardless of the man (or woman) taking that sacred oath of office. We sing to honor the nation.
Photo from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington site