Mormon and Catholic leaders discuss religious liberty
APIA, Samoa — Elder James J. Hamula, Pacific Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met with senior Catholic leaders in Samoa and American Samoa last week.
Among those with whom Elder Hamula met was American Samoa's Bishop Quinn Weitzel.
Elder Hamula expressed gratitude to the Catholic leaders for their service to the people of Samoa and American Samoa, and for their teachings and work to strengthen families and communities.
The faith leaders also discussed the need for churches to stand together in defense of religious liberty so people of faith can be free to worship and live their religions as their consciences dictate.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to come together in a spirit of love and respect,” Elder Hamula said. “We have so much more that unites us, than divides us, particularly as we work together to preserve our right to practice our faiths.”
The Latter Day Saint leaders also met last week in Apia with leaders from Samoa’s National Council of Churches.
Describing the decline in support for religions in many societies, Elder Hamula recently stated: “Religion is increasingly seen as something to be tolerated, but only if practiced in private. Many contend that religion has no legitimate place in the public square, particularly if it disagrees with secular ideals. As a result, everywhere we look we see the religionist’s right to publicly speak, act, and worship according to the dictates of his faith eroding.”
“As a church,” Elder Hamula says, “we are committed to working with our friends in other faiths to protect the religious liberties of all people.”
“We will also continue to communicate through the media and other channels the positive and valuable contribution all religions, including our own, make to society.”
A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world’s faiths is one of the hallmarks of Mormonism. The Latter Day Saints’ 11th Article of Faith states: "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."