Bishop Charles H. Ellis III caught the wrath of Twitter and beyond as he officiated the funeral ceremonies of the legendary Aretha Franklin. In the pulpit, the pastor made a terrible joke about Ariana Grande‘s name while referencing Taco Bell and appeared to grope her inappropriately onstage as well.
Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral and awkwardly greeted Grande on stage after she performed “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Images of the moment showed Ellis’ hand holding Grande well above her waist, with his fingers pressing against one side of her chest.
The preacher apologized in an interview with The Associated Press at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis said. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”
He said he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.
“I hug all the female artists and the male artists,” Ellis said. “Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.”
Bishop Ellis also apologized to Grande and the Taco Bell menu quip, extending the same courtesy to the Hispanic community in a statement adds the outlet.
Grande has yet to publicly respond.