Last week Pope Francis invited President Russell M. Nelson to meet at the Vatican for a historic visit. The occasion marked the first meeting between a pope and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Nelson stated the significance of the meeting was to get to know Pope Francis and for His Holiness “to know us and finding we have so many points in common.”
“The differences in doctrine are real,” he added. “They are important. But they are not nearly as important as things we have in common—our concern for human suffering, our desire for and the importance of religious liberty for all of society, and the importance of building bridges of friendship instead of building walls of segregation.”
The leaders of the two faiths demonstrated the common ground they share and the strength of their relationship forged through their collaboration in service and charity throughout the world. Right here in Colorado the Latter-day Saints have a meaningful, fruitful relationship with our friends of the Catholic faith.
On January 17th, 2019, Elder Thomas T. Priday, Area Seventy, met with Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at the Archbishop’s office, for what Elder Priday characterized as “a warm one-on-one visit.” In that meeting, Elder Priday expressed appreciation for the partnership that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has with members of the Catholic Church.
Elder Priday highlighted recent events including Day at the Capitol, Faith in Action committee work (and related community service), and honoring of veterans in our community. He also made particular mention of a special jointly-planned religious freedom event, an August 2018 gathering at Holy Family High School where Latter-day Saints, Catholics and Muslims gathered to hear remarks from various leaders regarding ways to strengthen religious freedom in our community.
Describing the important relationship between local Latter-day Saints and Catholics, Heather Scott, Denver Area JustServe Director stated, “The spirit of collaboration and true Christian service demonstrated by our friends at Catholic Charities is a blessing to our community. In recent months, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have worked together with Catholic Charities to provide comfort, relief, and needed supplies to members of the Denver community who are experiencing homelessness. I have been amazed to witness Catholic Charities’ unwavering commitment to follow Jesus Christ’s admonition to clothe the naked and feed the hungry.”
Local Latter-day Saint congregations are also working with Catholic Charities. For example, members have served meals at the Samaritan House, the Parker Stake Relief Society sisters have gone in small groups to provide “spa nights” to Women of the Holy Rosary shelter, and the Denver Stake women’s conference collected feminine hygiene products and prepared handmade cards for women served by Catholic Charities.
Jonathan Toronto, Denver North Public Affairs Director stated, “As I have had the opportunity to get to know and serve with our friends at Catholic Charities, I have been most impressed by their efforts to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, by truly serving those in need within our community. As but one example, I was deeply moved during a recent visit to the Samaritan House to see what this great facility (and those who serve there) can do to provide for the needs of our homeless brothers and sisters, right here in Denver. While prayers for those in need are always welcome, this group is using their hands and means to provide tangible relief to those in need.
We are looking forward to even further collaboration in 2019 and are so grateful for this association both locally, and at a global level–and not only with our Catholic friends but with those of all faiths who share in the common interest of extending God’s love and care to those around us.”