Pope welcomes regional representative

Jon M. Huntsman, a regional representative and an industrialist who has financed humanitarian relief efforts worldwide, was greeted May 12 by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome.

Elder Huntsman, who serves as regional representative to the Kearns Utah Region, was invited to visit the Vatican as an expression of appreciation for a financial gift to St. Vincent de Paul and for his role as co-chairman for the restoration of the Catholic Church's Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Elder Huntsman and his family have been major financial supporters for many years of St. Vincent de Paul, which feeds the poor and destitute throughout the world. St. Vincent de Paul is an arm of Catholic Community Services, an agency to which the LDS Church also has contributed humanitarian relief funds.Patrick A. Shea, a member of the Catholic Church and an attorney in Salt Lake City, helped with arrangements for Elder Huntsman's visit to the Vatican. Mr. Shea said the Vatican visit came about through the suggestion of the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, Bishop of the Catholic Church's Salt Lake Diocese.

Mr. Shea, who has made several visits to the Vatican, accompanied Elder Huntsman. Also accompanying Elder Huntsman was James N. Kimball, an LDS Church member and director of media relations for Huntsman Chemical Corporation. Vatican officials were aware of Elder Huntsman's membership in the LDS Church, which has channeled some of its worldwide humanitarian relief efforts through Catholic charities.

"His [Elder Huntsman'sT visit was well received within the Vatican because of the Catholic Church's interest in coordinating emergency relief efforts with other Christian denominations," Mr. Shea said. "One vatican official said they were very aware and very pleased at the energy and scope of the Mormon Church's relief efforts. The pope, in part, granted an audience with Mr. Huntsman in recognition of that coordination."

Mr. Shea said Elder Huntsman was able to visit the pope's private quarters and saw the balcony over St. Peter's Square where the pontiff gives his weekly blessings. He also saw the chamber where the College of Cardinals meets to elect each pope.

Mr. Shea indicated to the Church News that Elder Huntsman and the pope met with a common desire: to relieve suffering among the peoples of the world, whether it comes by war, famine, natural disasters or other problems.

To help put in perspective the significance of an LDS regional representative's visit with the pope, Mr. Shea said: "The Mormon Church is embracing with the Catholic Church Christ's message to provide relief to those suffering, regardless of denomination or race or ethnic background. The world needs to have Christ's message of relieving suffering rather than inflicting suffering. The pontiff has a council for Christian unity. The monsignor on that council who met with us said even though there are deep differences between the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church we need to focus on those areas of common concern and work together."

In a news release prepared after his visit with the pope, Elder Huntsman was quoted as saying, "His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, is a person with great love and concern for all humanity."

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