Did the Church’s support of Proposition 8 help secure a temple in Rome?
The email below (or something very similar to it) has been making the rounds in members’ inboxes:
Jane Parker, who is the late Elder Wirthlin’s daughter, told us the following story today in Relief Society. She went to a talk by a lawyer for the European Area (each area of the Church has a legal department). The talk was about the ability to have a temple built in Rome, Italy which was announced as a done deal in conference recently. He stated that they knew they needed to have contact with the cardinals of the Catholic Church to see if they would approve or go along with our desire to have a temple built there. He heard of a reception at which the cardinals would be present, and the legal department for the church was also invited. He approached one cardinal and talked to him about the issue. The cardinal said, “We will support you in any effort you want because of your support of Proposition 8 in California.”
The letter below was posted on the Italy LDS Mission website as authentic:
Many of you have received various e-mails describing inspirational events relating to the establishment of the temple in Rome. While the basic spirit of those e-mails is correct (i.e., that the hand of the Lord is guiding every aspect of the project), there are several inaccuracies that I should correct.
Specifically, none of the Catholic leaders we met said “We will support you in any effort you want because of your support of Proposition 8 in California.” Not only does the Catholic Church have no official decisional role with regard to the Rome temple, it has not made any commitment of support, whether because of Proposition 8 or otherwise.
What is true is that at the reception in Rome in January 2009 (where we fortuitously met Catholic leaders), there were several Catholic officials who were aware of the Church’s work in California on Proposition 8 and who thanked me as a representative of the Church for that good work. They were grateful that the Church and its members had acted so vigorously and well in defense of our common principles. Indeed, since then it has become clear that the Church has obtained greater credibility and respect worldwide because of what our members did in California. That valiant work has opened doors of cooperation with other faith groups and like-minded organizations that has already benefited the Church.
There is no question that the Lord’s hand has been evident at many stages of the temple project in Rome, from the initial purchase of the property many years ago, to the necessary rezoning that occurred last year, to our smooth dealings with the city of Rome this year in seeking building permissions, to our encounters with Cardinals and others within the Catholic Church who have been respectful and interested. It has been a faith-building privilege to participate in and to share some of the details of that process.
But please keep in mind that our efforts to obtain the necessary building permissions within the Rome City Administration have not come to full fruition and remain at a delicate stage. Consequently, we need to be cautious and judicious when we discuss what is happening there and should take care not to spread incorrect information.
I wish you all the Lord’s continued blessings as we participate together in this great work.
Respectfully, John Zackrison
John A. Zackrison
Area Legal Counsel – Europe (2005-2009)
The LDS Church came out with the following official statement:
Recently some inaccurate information began circulating in relation to the proposed temple in Rome Italy. It inaccurately indicated support for the temple by a Catholic Cardinal in Rome as a result of the Proposition 8 efforts of Church members in California last year. While some of the information is accurate, some is not. Although this topic is of general interest to members, inaccurate and speculative information can be harmful to the interests of the Church. Therefore, this information should be discarded and not used or taught in any way if received. Furthermore, we encourage personnel to inform those who teach or distribute it, as appropriate to the circumstance, that it is misleading and should not be shared.
Note: In relation to the document circulating, the Church’s legal counsel in Europe stated the following: “Please keep in mind that our efforts to obtain the necessary building permissions within the Rome City Administration have not come to full fruition and remain at a delicate stage. Consequently, we need to be cautious and judicious when we discuss what is happening there and should take care not to spread incorrect information.”