The Mormon Church has anointed Russell M. Nelson, a 93-year-old former heart surgeon, as the church’s new president, “prophet, seer, and revelator.”
The Quorum of the 12, the council which governed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the wake of the death of its former president, Thomas Monson, selected and announced Nelson as the new president Tuesday, according to the Independent. Though controversy arose over the Mormon church’s stance on LGBT lifestyles and women leadership in the church, spurred by a decidedly negative obituary for Monson by The New York Times, Nelson is expected to maintain the status quo of the church’s teachings on those matters.
Nelson said he is aware that there are “challenges with the commandments of God, challenges to be worthy,” and that individuals tempted by LGBT lifestyles face a particularly difficult challenge.
“God loves his children and we love them and there’s a place for everyone, regardless of his challenges,” Nelson told Independent.
Dallin H Oaks, presidential counselor to Nelson, further expounded upon Nelson’s view of the tension between LGBT issues and what the Mormon church believes to be God’s laws, saying that leaders of the church are charged with following and upholding those laws.
“We’ve got the love of the Lord and the law of the Lord,” Oaks told the Independent.
Nelson believed in achieving the balance of upholding “the law of the Lord” in a manner that also clearly communicates “the love of the Lord,” Oaks said.
Nelson chose Oaks as his second counselor after deciding to keep on previous presidential counselor Henry B. Eyring as his first, as the president of the Mormon church traditionally has two counselors.
With regard to questions over whether Nelson would change the church’s approach to women’s leadership, Nelson said such a decision was largely out of his hands as church leadership is chosen according to the expressed will of God. Nelson explained that “the Lord is in charge” of choosing those who will lead the church.
“We’ll live to see the day when there will be other flavors in the mix, but we respond because we’ve been called by the Lord,” Nelson told the Independent.
Nelson did say, however, that women have an indispensable role in the current system to which the church adheres.
“We need their voices, we need their input and we love their participation,” Nelson said.
Nelson is the second oldest man to ever serve as the president of the Mormon church and will remain president until his death, as is tradition.
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