News Release

Philippines Area Presidency Meets Vatican Cardinal in Manila

To further the cause of interfaith relations in the country, the Philippines Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with His Eminence Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod, at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on January 23, 2024.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in coordination with Uniharmony Partners Manila and Religions for Peace, organized a High-Level Multi-Faith Synodal Meeting with Cardinal Grech, who came to the Philippines for a pastoral visit.

Elder Steven R. Bangerter, the Philippines Area President, attended the meeting with his counselors, Elder Yoon Hwan Choi and Elder Carlos G. Revillo, Jr. They discussed the willingness of the Church of Jesus Christ to “link arms” with other religions and faiths in the Philippines to help improve the spiritual and temporal lives of Filipinos, especially those who are in desperate need.

“We are grateful to join in this ecumenical effort, to join in the humanity of our effort, and are grateful for the many things, the great work that has been done by all who are here and people who believe in blessing the lives of those who are poor and in need among us. But to bless not only their physical, but also their spiritual, mental and emotional needs,” Elder Bangerter said in his remarks.

“We feel that God wants us to counsel together, not only inviting us to counsel together, but commanding us to counsel together. In doing so, we receive in the process the teachings of His Holy Spirit, and in the midst of those teachings, that which our Savior Jesus Christ prayed for the most in His high-priestly prayer that we be one as He and the Father are,” he emphasized.

For decades, leaders, scholars and members from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have participated in many local, national and international interfaith forums.

President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church, stated, “We exist to bring love and concern for the eternal welfare of all humankind, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality. We believe that we are truly brothers and sisters, so we want to project the message that we care. We love one another, and we hope to bless the lives of all mankind.”

Apart from Cardinal Grech, other key leaders from various faiths and interfaith coordinators also attended the meeting. This included Rev. Fr. Carlos Reyes from the Ministry of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila and Dr. Lilian Sison, the President of Religions for Peace Philippines.

Senior religious leaders present at the meeting were as follows: Venerable Miao Jing Shi, Head Abbess-Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple; Selim Serinoglu, President-Pacific Dialogue Foundation; Imam Ebra Moxsir, President of the Imam Council of the Philippines; Ma. Victoria Mandap, Center Coordinator-Brahma Kumaris; Ms. Minnie Anne Mata-Calub, General Secretary-National Council of Churches in the Philippines; Bishop Mel Rey Uy, Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs; Bishop Cesar Punzalan III, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches; Bishop Dindo Ranojo, General Secretary–Iglesia Filipina Independiente; Bishop Justice Raoul V. Victorino, Chairperson–Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal; The Rt. Rev. Rex B. Reyes, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines; Bishop Ariel C. Santos, Charismatic Episcopal Church and Bishop Francisco Aviso of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

During the discussions, Cardinal Mario Grech presented the ongoing synodal efforts of the Roman Catholic Church and the significance of consultation with the ecumenical and interfaith communities and listening to them.

He also shared his faith journey and the vision of Pope Francis for a synodality church. The process, according to him, includes renewal and rediscovery of new expressions and approaches of the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue as essences of attaining global solidarity and peace.

After the meeting, Elder Bangerter, Elder Choi and Elder Revillo presented a Christus statue to Cardinal Grech as a token of friendship, peace and solidarity.

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