National News

Jan 16, 2013 10:36 AM by AP

Episcopal priest chosen for inaugural benediction

WASHINGTON (AP) - The pastor of the Episcopal parish closest to the White House will give the benediction at President Barack Obama's inauguration.

The Rev. Luis Leon of St. John's Church has been chosen for the honor. He replaces Atlanta megachurch pastor Luis Giglio. Giglio bowed out last week after a sermon he gave years ago surfaced in which he criticized the gay rights movement. A spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee said the person chosen to give the prayer would reflect the administration's beliefs.

The Episcopal Church blesses same-sex relationships and elects bishops who live openly with same-gender partners.

St. John's Church is known as "the Church of the Presidents." The National Park Service says every president since James Madison has attended a service there.

The presidential inaugural will be held Monday.

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