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‘Mormon Land’: What President Nelson’s meeting with Pope Francis means and why it’s a big deal — at least for Latter-day Saints

(Photo courtesy of the Vatican) Pope Francis welcomes President Russell M. Nelson to the Vatican on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Thirty-three minutes. That’s how long President Russell M. Nelson’s private audience with Pope Francis lasted at the Vatican.

But the first-ever face-to-face meeting between a Latter-day Saint prophet and a Catholic pontiff was months — if not longer — in the making, and its impact might be felt for years to come. Or will it? Was this historic encounter more about symbolism than substance? Or is that symbolism, ultimately, more important than any substance?

Patrick Mason, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University, discusses why this meeting and the recent events in Rome mean so much more to the 16 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church.

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