By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
After angering gay rights supporters with the choice of pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama will try to appease his critics by inviting openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene V. Robinson to pray at this weekend’s kickoff events for the inauguration.
Bishop Robinson, who advised Obama on gay rights issues during the campaign, is set to deliver the invocation at an event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial two days before the swearing-in ceremony, aides to Obama said yesterday.
The choice was made to counter that of Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, author of the popular Purpose Driven Life. Warren ran afoul of pro-gay groups when he backed the California ban on same-sex marriage known as Proposition 8.
However, Robinson is a controversial figure whose presence at the inauguration will certainly be a painful reminder to social conservatives of their considerable differences with the incoming Administration. Robinson is well-known throughout the world as being the first openly gay bishop to be consecrated by the Episcopal church, an action that created an enormous rift in the worldwide Anglican communion.
“President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to unite Americans, and yet he chooses the most polarizing person in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson, to offer a prayer at one of his inaugural events,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue.
“Robinson, who dumped his wife and children to live with another man, is not just an embarrassment to rank-and-file Episcopalians, he has a record of offending Catholics, as well.”
Apparently, in 2005, Robinson openly criticized the Church in the wake of the abuse scandal for not allowing homosexuals into seminaries. Robinson also recently revealed that he led a retreat a few years ago for gay Catholic priests, and has publicly called for the ordination of women which he claims “will go a long way toward opening the door for the acceptance of gay priests.”
“In other words, Obama has chosen a man who offends Catholics as much as he does Protestants,” Donohue said. “ If that’s his idea of inclusion, he can keep it. The only saving grace is that Robinson says he will not use a Bible next week. It would be news if he did.”
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