Saturday, January 31, 2009

LDS Church To Procure Alternative Site For Proposed Tegucigalpa, Honduras Temple In Response To Roman Catholic Concerns And Media Sensationalism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once again demonstrated its sensitivity to public opinion when they announced that they will look for a new location for their proposed temple in Tegucigalpa, Honduras after being unable to obtain final building permits. Media story published by the Mormon Times. A Catholic News Agency story is posted HERE.

Despite the fact that the temple was first announced on June 9th, 2006, and that ground was broken on the existing site on June 9th, 2007, sudden public fears that a "gigantic temple" would block the view of one of Honduras' most famous Catholic basilicas led LDS authorities to halt construction in September 2007 and ultimately take a path of lesser resistance and look for a new location. The original site, purchased 15 years ago, is only 2,000 feet away from the Our Lady of Suyapa Basilica, and is across the street from the National Autonomous University of Honduras, the largest university in Honduras. The basilica was built in honor of the Virgin of Supaya.

"People saw (the temple being built so close to the basilica) as a provocation," said Bishop Darwin Rudy Andino Ramirez, auxiliary bishop of the Tegucigalpa Catholic Archdiocese, in La Tribuna, "but we have not seen it that way and are in dialogue with them because a representative from the (LDS) church headquarters in the United States of America came to Honduras to talk. But I do not know what decisions they have reached."

The proposed temple would serve members of the LDS Church in Honduras and Nicaragua. As of December 2006, Honduras and Nicaragua had more than 175,000 members of the LDS Church and 308 congregations.

However, LDS Church officials were not so much put out with the Roman Catholic Church or local residents who voiced their concerns, but much more unhappy with local Honduran media who apparently sensationalized the dispute to sell more newspapers (the media is the same worldwide). In response, Nery Rodriguez, an LDS Church spokesman in Honduras, issued the following statement to correct misimpressions:

In clarification to the news published today in your/their respected media under the title 'Mormons to construct gigantic church in front of Suyapa sanctuary' and out of respect for what the public opinion deserves, we ask that you please clarify the following:

1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is respectful of the laws of the country, and it has not begun construction of any of its meeting facilities without the proper building permit.

2. Since last year's project to build the temple at the site was shut down, we still do not know where and when to build. Similar temples were built in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama with no opposition.

3. The church members are respectful of the beliefs of members of other religious denominations and we hope for the same respect for ours.

4. Often we join people of different beliefs to carry out humanitarian tasks and meet the needs of people as in the case of emergencies caused by natural disasters, delivering wheelchairs, medical shifts and delivering bags of useful school supplies.

5. Those who know us, know that our mission is to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bless the lives of people. It has never been and will not be our intention to create antagonism, rather we embrace as fellow Christians all who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God the Savior of all mankind -- in spite of doctrinal differences.

6. The meeting center that operates on the property of the Church (where the temple was planned) is used as an education center for youth and will continue to operate as such.

A portrait of how the prospective temple would look is available HERE. When built, the Tegucigalpa Temple will eventually be the sixth in Central America, others currently operational in Guatemala City, San Jose (Costa Rica), and Panama City (Panama), and two others in San Salvador and Quetzaltenango (Guatemala) under planning or construction. A list of all LDS temples worldwide available HERE.

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