An influential voice in the Catholic Church joined with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday and Monday to highlight their shared love of God, country and religious freedom.
“We have to remember that patriotism is a biblical virtue,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said in a news release. “And to see people coming together — especially to see our young people — to show that we’re not alone in our love for God and country.”
More than 3,000 people gathered in Orem to hear Dolan, the keynote speaker for the Freedom Festival’s annual patriotic service.
Dolan has a long-standing relationship with Latter-day Saint leaders, including apostle Quentin L. Cook, who introduced the Catholic cardinal to the audience at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center.
“To have us be able to work together on things that would bless this country … whether they’re of a faith or no faith at all," Cook said, "has been an incredibly significant thing.”
Cook and other Latter-day Saint leaders have worked closely with Dolan on issues involving faith, family and religious freedom.
“[Religious freedom] is important for all of culture and all of society, not just for people of faith,” Dolan said. “We come together as neighbors, we come together as a family, we come together as friends. See, that gives a counterexample to those who would love to caricature us as these bigoted, hateful, violent people. And we can’t allow that to happen.”
Cook said Dolan’s support of joint humanitarian efforts with the church and service opportunities has brought the faith communities closer together. “He’s a bridge builder.”
In 2016, the cardinal praised Utahn Mason Wells, a Latter-day Saint missionary who was injured, along with several other missionaries, in a terrorist bombing at the airport in Brussels, Belgium.
This marked Dolan’s first trip to Utah. On Monday, he visited the Cathedral of the Madeleine, the mother church for the state’s 300,000-plus Catholics, and Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, Mormonism’s most iconic venue, where he met with the faith’s governing First Presidency and other senior church leaders.
“We have to bring God and patriotism together. It’s a great formula for a healthy society,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, said in the release. “Religious liberty is very essential for us, and that it is defined as the First Amendment in this country, and that is why we need to safeguard and uphold [it], because this is a precious gift.”
The Catholic Church, with 1.2 billion members, and the LDS Church, with 16 million, have formed alliances to relieve human suffering and defend religious liberty around the world.
In March, Pope Francis welcomed church President Russell M. Nelson at the Vatican, the first-ever private audience between a Catholic pontiff and a Mormon prophet.