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Mormons applaud choice of new Catholic pope

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 11:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormons in Utah are praising the selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Catholic pope.

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints welcomed Pope Francis and said they hope the two faiths can continue to work together on issues of faith, morality, and service to the poor and needy.

"We look forward to pursuing together, as the Apostle Paul wrote, all things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report," said a statement from the Mormon church.

Mary Ellen Robertson, executive director of the Salt Lake City-based Sunstone Foundation, said it was smart to select a pope from Latin America, where the church is strong and growing. Her foundation is an independent Mormon studies organization that publishes a magazine and holds an annual symposium on Mormon culture, theology and history.

"It will be certainly benefit the Spanish-speaking Catholic population worldwide," Robertson said. "They will have someone they can relate to more intimately. It's nice when the leadership starts to reflect who is in the pews."

Stephanie Lauritzen, founder of the feminist Mormon group All Enlisted, said she wishes Francis supported gay marriage and women in the priesthood, but she likes his reputation as somebody that helps the poor.

"That's a good focus to have for a religious leader," Lauritzen said. "That's the foundation of any Christian religion."

Mormons and Catholics don't always see eye to eye on all issues but generally get along well both at the leadership level and among members, Lauritzen said.

"We can see the good that we both do," she said.

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