Cardinal Wuerl prays for unity at Inaugural Prayer Service

By Matt Hadro

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Washington National Cathedral. Credit: moretown / Shutterstock.

Religious leaders gathered in prayer for the country and the Trump administration on Saturday, continuing a decades-old tradition of national prayer at the start of a new presidential term.

“Almighty God, You have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember Your generosity and constantly do Your will,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. prayed the “Prayer for Our Country” near the end of the National Prayer Service for the 58th Presidential Inaugural.  

The National Prayer Service at the Presidential Inauguration is a tradition that dates back to 1933 with the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Religious leaders gather to pray for the new president and his administration at the beginning of their term.

Saturday’s prayer service at Washington National Cathedral in Northwest Washington, D.C. featured calls to prayer from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders, as well as prayer by Hindu, Sikh and Ba’hai leaders.

President Trump and his wife Melania were present, along with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen. Several nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor were also present in the audience.

The service was preceded by a choral prelude including the Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Catholic Church choir, from their parish in Southeast Washington, D.C., performing Gospel pieces.

Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, began by praying for God to “take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us.”

Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, led a “Prayer for Those Who Govern.”

Archbishop Demetrios of America, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, prayed for God to “deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you have given us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good.”

Near the end of the service, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. led the “Prayer for Our Country.”

“Bless our land with honest industry, sound learning, and an honorable way of life. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance; and from every evil way,” he prayed.

“Make us who come from many nations with many different languages a united people.”

On Friday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York read from the Book of Wisdom at the Presidential Inauguration on Capitol Hill, minutes before Trump took the Oath of Office and was sworn in as the country’s 45th president.  

Pope Francis asked President Trump to remember the poor as president, and promised him his prayers in a Jan. 20 message.

“At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding farsighted and united political responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide,” Pope Francis said.

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