Brazilian ‘folk hero’ elected to high post

Moroni Bing Torgan, 34, president of the Fortaleza BrazilStake, has been elected a National Congressman to serve in the House of Representatives of Brazil.

He is the first Church member elected to such a high position in the Brazilian government. Before the election, he served as the Secretary of Public Safety in the northern Brazilian state of Ceara, which has a population of about 5.2 million.Descended from Italian, Austrian, Romanian and Scandinavian ancestors, he is a son of Joao and Wilma Bing Torgan. His mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were stalwarts of the Church and were members of the first branch organized in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 1938. He was baptized in 1964.

As a boy, Moroni Torgan attended Protestant and Catholic schools where he placed high academically. He was on the national championship volleyball team. He graduated in 1982 from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.

Before he began his career in law, he served in the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission. He was a bishop, high councilor and stake president's counselor before he was called in November 1985, at age 29, as president of the Fortaleza Brazil Stake.

While serving as a federal police officer in Ceara, Pres. Torgan received the title of "Outstanding Policeman." He had a major role in arresting more than 3,000 lawbreakers. Partly as a result of his work, the state crime index dropped 50 percent. An even greater work was done when, as an officer assigned to vice crimes, he arrested more than 500 drug traffickers.

Having achieved an almost folk-hero status as a crime fighter, he often has been the subject of newspaper, magazine and television features. One reporter, noting Pres. Torgan's Church membership and faithfulness, wrote: "In the hours when he is not fighting crime, he is likely to be home reading the scriptures."

Pres. Torgan was elected "Best State Security Agent" by the state media, National Council on Public Safety and Minister of Justice. He received a certificate of honor from the Brazilian army and was also decorated by the Air Force with the Santos Dumont Medal, the highest civil award.

Pres. Torgan's success in law enforcement led to his appointment in 1987 as Secretary of Public Security in the state of Ceara. At 31, he was the youngest man appointed to that post. He was also the highest-ranking LDS government official in Brazil.

As a member of Brazil's House of Representatives, he has some specific goals he hopes to accomplish:

  • Be an example of dignity.
  • Be inspired to improve the Brazilian legislation, providing a more stable life for the people.
  • Improve the mechanism for fighting drugs and violence.
  • Moralize actions of the House of Representatives to better protect the institution of the family.

"Without funds to support a large campaign, I received a large amount of help and support from people unknown to me, who are good citizens, enabling me to win the election," he said. "It makes me feel good to know I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands."

Pres. Torgan's mission president, Saul Messias, said: "Moroni Torgan . . . worked in the capital and some interior cities of Sao Paulo. Many people were converted and baptized through his faithful lessons. He was a good friend and hard worker while a full-time missionary.

"To be elected to the House of Representatives means to accept a holy commission and a serious challenge for his courage and faith.

"I saw Moroni Torgan in a white shirt in the mission field. He, certainly, will continue being the same missionary in the House of Representatives. He has been elected to serve, to make a difference, in a world where many skillful and powerful opponents are empty of moral and spiritual values.

"The correct and true principles which Moroni Torgan learned in his home, Church, mission and job as a police officer will help him be a loyal member of the Brazilian parliament."