Pope and prophet

Pope Francis welcomes President Nelson to the Vatican on March 9, 2019.

President Russel M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday, a first in church history. 

According to Mormon Newsroom, the meeting was held a day before the Rome Temple dedication. President M. Russel Ballard accompanied President Nelson in the meeting.

"We had a most cordial, unforgettable experience. His Holiness, he was most gracious and warm and welcoming," said President Nelson. "What a sweet, wonderful man he is, and how fortunate the Catholic people are to have such a gracious, concerned, loving and capable leader."

President Nelson and Pope Francis talked about a mutual concern to relieve human suffering around the world.

"We talked about the importance of religious liberty, the importance of the family, our mutual concern for the youth of the Church, for the secularization of the world and the need for people to come to God and worship Him, pray to Him and have the stability that faith in Jesus Christ will bring in their lives," President Nelson said. 

A local leader in Rome, Elder Alessandro Dini-Ciacci, spoke on the historical meeting, according to Mormon Newsroom. 

"How inspiring it was for me to witness two of the leaders of the leading faiths in the world meet together and share brotherhood," he said. "This is beautiful to witness and something we can sure learn from in our association with people of other faiths." 

This meeting is one of many meetings with church leaders the prophet has set out to make. 

"Since becoming leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2018, President Nelson has engaged with Roman Catholic prelates during several of his ministry stops. In Texas last November, he met with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio. And last month in Arizona, he spoke to Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Catholic Bishop of Phoenix," according to Mormon Newsroom. 

Other Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint leaders such as Henry B. Eyring, President Ballard and former Church of Jesus Christ President Gordon B. Hinckley have taken part in additional interfaith communication with other religious leaders. Several leaders of other faiths have reached out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in return. 

"In 2015, Archbishop Chaput invited Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to share principles Latter-day Saints employ to strengthen families during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia," according to Mormon Newsroom.

In 2018, President Nelson was interviewed by Sergio Rubin, Pope Francis' biographer, where they discussed the Rome Italy temple.

“We appreciate the kindness of the pope and the Vatican. They are most gracious in welcoming us,” the prophet said in the interview.

The temple dedication will take place Sunday, March 10, where President Nelson, the first presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church will all be in attendance. 

For more information, visit mormonnewsroom.org