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Catholic Bishop John C. Wester urges interfaith love, understanding

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 18 2012 8:42 p.m. MDT

Bishop Wester also spoke specifically about some ways in which the Catholic Church and the LDS Church are different.

“We have different points of view on a number of issues,” he said. “We can certainly respect what each other is saying, but each of us would have a different belief.”

He mentioned the Trinity, the notion of ongoing revelation, the Mormon belief in a “great apostasy,” the infallibility of the Catholic Church and the universality of salvation as doctrinal areas in which Catholics and Mormons differ.

“Our anthropologies differ,” he observed. “Latter-day Saints have a very optimistic notion of human nature. We believe that Christ provides grace beyond our natural being. We don’t believe that we become divine, but we believe that we become more like him.”

Bishop Wester also focused on the things Mormons and Catholics have in common, including “the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the centrality of Jesus Christ” in church teachings, as well as “adherence to the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.”

He spoke of Catholics and Mormons sharing “a call to social justice and our love for the poor,” mentioning how Catholic Community Services are “greatly helped” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spoke of his personal relationship with LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson and “his desire to work with us in helping the poor and the needy.”

He also mentioned shared beliefs like respect for the dignity of human life, the importance of family life and Christian marriage, the desire to be faithful and good stewards of creation, the belief in an afterlife and the efficacy of prayer.

“These are all areas of tremendous cooperation and agreement and accord,” he said. “We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another in honoring each other’s faith traditions.”

After the devotional, Bishop Wester, President Holland and Elder Lund met with members of UVU’s Interfaith Student Council, where they responded to a number of questions from council members. During that session, Bishop Wester reconfirmed his message about the helpful spirit that exists between Utah’s Catholic and LDS communities.

“We respect the LDS faith because they are faithful to their creeds and covenants,” he said. “My experience has been that you feel the same way about us.”

And he encouraged President Holland to continue to lead UVU in its pursuit of intellectual honesty and truth.

“The truth is never the enemy,” Bishop Wester said. “Truth is the companion of faith. The more faithful you are to the truth, then you are serving religion and giving religious people a way to inform their faith.

“I think truth and faith go hand in hand,” he continued. “The university does a great service to religion by using the truth to enlighten us.”

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