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Pope meets top Mormon leaders

VATICAN (CNS): Pope Francis welcomed top officials of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including its president, Russell M. Nelson, to the Vatican on March 9. 
 
Nelson, whom Mormons consider a prophet, along with other top officials of the Latter-day Saints Church were in Rome for the March 10 inauguration of a new temple, where special marriage, baptism and other rites are performed.
 
The Vatican included the meeting in a list of the pope’s encounters on March 9, but did not provide further information.
 
Catholic and Mormon leaders, especially in the United States, have increased their official contacts in recent years, working together on many social projects and joining forces to promote issues of common concern, particularly policies to support traditional families.
 
However, the Catholic Church does not recognise the baptism conferred by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a valid Christian baptism.
 
The Catholic position was issued formally in 2001 by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
 
While the Mormon baptismal rite refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Mormon beliefs about the identity of the three persons is so different from Catholic and mainline Christian belief that “one cannot even consider this doctrine to be a heresy arising from a false understanding of Christian doctrine,” said a Vatican explanation of the ruling.
 
The Latter-day Saints’ official website—lds.org—carried a long piece and a video interview with Nelson, along with ample coverage of the temple dedication. It reported that the meeting with the pope lasted 33 minutes.
 
Describing Pope Francis, Nelson said, “What a sweet, wonderful man he is and how fortunate the Catholic people are to have such a gracious, concerned, loving and capable leader.”

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