Thomas Monson, president of the Mormon Church, died Tuesday at the age of 90, leading Catholic bishops to offer prayer and praise for a man dedicated to philanthropic works.
“President Monson was an advocate of unity and believed in the goodness of each person. He embraced people regardless of faith, seeing in them the image of Jesus,” Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City said Jan. 3.
“He was a ‘human’ touch of kindness and dignity that will long be treasured. We join in prayer with the LDS faithful at this difficult time.”
Monson, 16th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of natural causes Jan. 2 at his home in Salt Lake City. The leader of the 15.8 million-member religion had a strong dedication to the poor. He had been president of the religion since 2008.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Monson would make surprise visits to sick children or bereaving widows. Additionally, former Utah legislator Stuart Reid said Monson had modified the LDS Church's three-fold mission to include a fourth — an outreach to the poor.
“The President has been a good friend and supporter in our mutual efforts to support the common good and care for the most vulnerable both at home and abroad,” continued Bishop Solis.
“Catholic Community Services as well as the Good Samaritan Program have benefited from his commitment to the poor.”
Born in 1927 in Salt Lake City, Monson was always an active member of the Mormon Church. He served on one of the religion's governing bodies, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, from 1963 until his 2008 appointment as president.
Monson's funeral services will be held Jan. 12 in Salt Lake City.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US bishops' conference, offered his condolences to the leaders and members of LDS Church and promised to pray for Monson, whom he said aided friendship between Catholics and Mormons.
“During his tenure as president, understanding and friendship developed between our two communities on national and local levels,” he said Jan. 3. “As we engage important questions on family and the dignity of the human person, Catholics and Mormons work together and support each other. Today, Catholics join their Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in commending his soul to the mercy and love of God.”
The Mormon Church, a nontrinitarian religion, was founded in the 19th century in New York.