RIO DE JANEIRO — Three hours after a Latter-day Saint apostle gave a Catholic cardinal a tour of the new temple in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday afternoon, they will appear together during the opening panel of the first Brazilian symposium on religious freedom.
The original dates of the symposium have been rescheduled to coincide with the temple’s open house so that attendees can take tours before it begins its sacred operations and closes to the public.
“I have been invited to be part of the symposium and to take my message to all of these great religious leaders and then to welcome them into the temple to see what we believe in,” said Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
“All of these religious leaders have the opportunity to see a very sacred place for us where we worship the Lord, where we receive ordinances and make covenants,” he said.
The first panelist moderated by Brother Soares, a native of Brazil, will be Cardinal Orani Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro.
He and other Latter-day Saint leaders will take symposium attendees through the temple for the next two days.
“They can join us in the same sense of reverence and love for the ordinances of this gospel,” Elder Soares said. “Next, we will talk about religious freedom. We will share our blessings of beliefs that we can share and live in peace, especially in a place that is very sacred to us. Every religion or every religious entity, they have their ways of showing worship to the Lord in the way they act and the way they live.
“For us, the temple is a beacon for life. It is a beacon for our own lives that blesses us with promises we receive in faith through ordinances.
The first person to visit the temple with Elder Soares on Tuesday said it helped him learn much more about Latter-day Saint practices and beliefs.
“I was very interested in the baptism in honor of the people who preceded you in our family,” said Bruno Kazuhiro, secretary of tourism for the city of Rio. “I think it’s very interesting, because I’ve always been curious about Christianity to know what happens to people who haven’t had the chance to be baptized and who have never heard of Christianity. .
“What is happening to these people? Some religions say, ‘Well, if you’re not baptized, what can we do?’ It’s very interesting to see that this church has this philosophy, this doctrine that you can offer the opportunity to people in your family who preceded you to be baptized through you. I didn’t know that, and for me, it was a learning experience. I will never forget this specific point that I learned today.
Elder Soares said his talk at the roundtable on Wednesday evening provided an opportunity to share more and work with other faith leaders to promote peace.
“I am grateful for this opportunity, for I will have the opportunity to testify through the principles of religious liberty to the truth in which I believe and to which I have been called to testify,” he said. .
Elder Soares and the Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ in Brazil welcome reporters and guests to the Rio de Janeiro Temple this week ahead of the Saturday start of a six-week open house.
On Tuesday, they organized visits for senior government officials from the state of Rio de Janeiro, the tourism secretary of the city of Rio, important television and radio journalists and others.
The well-known host of a weekly religious program on a state television network in Rio filmed an extensive interview with Elder Joni L. Koch of the Brazil Area Presidency and Sister Liliane Koch for a 30-minute segment. minutes which will be broadcast during the public hearing. open day.
The host, Luzia Lacerda, a devout Catholic, will also participate in the religious freedom symposium, which runs until Friday.
Brother Soares will participate in a panel with Cardinal Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio for 13 years. Pope Francis appointed him cardinal eight years ago.
The other two panelists are also major religious figures in Brazil:
- The executive secretary of the general conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil, Stanley Arco.
- Mohammed Al Bukai, a sheikh and imam who is the business director of the National Union of Islamic Entities in Brazil.
“I feel very grateful, very humbled and at the same time very proud to have the opportunity to meet good people who promote faith, who promote peace, who promote unity,” Elder Soares said. “It’s an incredible thing. We all work together for the same purpose.
Rio de Janeiro (literally January River, named after a large bay that the first Portuguese explorers saw upon their arrival), is a world-renowned tourist destination, attracting 5-6 million tourists a year before the pandemic. More than 2 million were international tourists.
Kazuhiro, Rio’s tourism secretary, said the new Latter-day Saint temple adds to the city’s reputation as a melting pot.
“It’s useful for the city,” he said. “It’s a very diverse city. We have many different religions. It is obviously important for us to have a temple, an important and sacred place for another religion here in the city. This helps us create our image of an open society and a very cosmopolitan, diverse and democratic open city.
He said the Rio temple will be a destination for two main groups.
“The first is religious tourism, people who like to visit cathedrals, churches, temples,” Kazuhiro said. “People who want to see different religions, when they come to town, will probably go now not only to the downtown area and the south area where you have the most beautiful places, but probably this temple will be a new element for people who have this interest in religions. They will probably want to get to know it, take a picture, something like that.
The second group is made up of church members, he said. Latter-day Saints will come not only from Rio de Janeiro, whose inhabitants are known as Cariocas, but also from cities and states around Rio.
“Before, people from the church in Rio had to travel to São Paulo or Campinas to have these most important and sacred ceremonies of their religion,” Kazuhiro said. “Now they have the opportunity to do it in Rio. For our Cariocas in the church, this is very important. It is a closer to home option to have these different and more sacred ceremonies that the church offers. And I didn’t know that until today.
The tourism secretary said the temple was a perfect fit for Barra da Tijuca, the modern western neighborhood of Rio.
“It’s an area of the city that’s experiencing economic growth,” he said. “It makes sense that the church is betting on Barra da Tijuca to be where the temple is, so I think it’s a good fit for the city. It’s where the city is growing.
Lacerda’s interview with Elder and Sister Koch will air on his show “Expo Religion” on TV Alerj. She is a devout Catholic.
“His main interest was to understand what we were doing here with the temple,” Elder Koch said. “She used the Catholic Church as a comparison, so she talked about the Eucharist and got us talking about the sacrament. She spoke to Catholic priests and had us describe our lay clergy, the temple, and the Word of Wisdom.
She also covered a wide range of other topics, including the church’s paschal traditions, the teaching and retention of young people, the church’s missionary and genealogical work, and why the angel Moroni at the top of the temple faces east (because the bible teaches Jesus Christ will return from the East), Sister Koch said.
“She also asked about the role of Jesus Christ in the church, so we explained the atonement of Jesus Christ and the importance of the name of Christ in the name of the church,” Sister said. Koch.
Lacerda told the Kochs that she would put a link for free tickets to the Rio Temple Open House in her newspaper column. During filming, Elder Koch invited people to come see the temple in Rio.
The open day will run until April 30. Kazuhiro said it would help some understand a faith that now has 15 stakes (regional groupings of 5 to 12 congregations) in Rio state and 45,000 church members in the temple district.
“It was very important for me to visit the temple not only to see the architecture and how obviously a beautiful place it is, but also to understand how the religion works and what ceremonies the temple holds,” he said. he declares.
Elder Soares said the combination of the open house and the symposium will benefit both participants.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we believe in, but on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for me to rejoice with them. as we move forward on this journey together,” Elder Soares said. . “I think we have a lot in common and we respect each other. We hope we can go together to promote a better society.
The Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, May 8.
The symposium is co-sponsored by two groups, the Brazilian Center for Studies in Law and Religion and Brigham Young. University’s International Center for Legal and Religious Studies.