In my 31 years of ordained ministry, I have had the honor of walking with people through the range of human emotions: joy at the birth of a child, the excitement of a new marriage, the painful sting of death, the tragedy of a failed relationship.
As a priest, it is easy to sojourn with people through the good times. The painful times — those are much harder. They are harder still when, however well-intentioned, you have done something to contribute to that pain.
This past Sunday, I invited the Rev. Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral. He and I disagree on many things, but I invited him because I believed him to be a man of deep faith. Moreover, I hoped his presence would be a step toward building new bridges to the evangelical community. What I did not know was that he also had written and said some horrific things about LGBTQ people. However, that is no excuse.
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.
In my attempt to build new relationships with others, I didn’t see how my actions were damaging already cherished relationships with those who have been hurt by words and teachings of religious leaders like Reverend Lucado. And for that I apologize.
Was it a mistake to invite Max Lucado to preach at the Cathedral? Seeing all too clearly now the pain that it caused and the trauma it resurrected for so many, I know that it was. I made a mistake and I am sorry.
In my first sermon at the Cathedral in 2016, I preached on Isaiah’s call to be repairers of the breach. That mandate has been the guiding principle of my tenure as dean and remains so.
I am committed to that work, but I regret the pain, hurt and disappointment I have caused during this misguided attempt to do that work. It is important that we seek reconciliation and relationship with those with whom we disagree, but not at the expense of the sacred dignity and worth of our LGBTQ friends and families.
Bishop Budde and I have heard from so many people who were hurt by our decisions; we are still listening. We invite you to join us for an online public discussion on Sunday Feb. 21 at 7 pm ET as we seek to move together to become the people God calls us to be. I hope to see you there.
With every blessing,
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
Dean, Washington National Cathedral