Rome Temple - Pope Francis and Pres. Nelson

Pope Francis welcomes President Russell M. Nelson to the Vatican Saturday, March 9, 2019.

While the fire was still smoldering at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Monday, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote a letter to Pope Francis sending words of comfort and hope.

According to a Thursday press release, in the letter, “President Nelson expressed profound sadness at the damage done to this sacred structure that has stood for more than 800 years.” President Nelson, “told the Bishop of Rome that his thoughts immediately went to him and the many beloved friends in the Catholic faith. He said he is heartbroken by the tragedy to such an ageless symbol of faith and shares his feelings of grief.”

President Nelson said he prays Notre Dame will rise again in newness of life.

It was just over a month earlier, on March 9, that Nelson and President M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome, the day before the dedication of the church’s new Rome Italy Temple.

The press release added that the church’s Europe Area Presidency — Elder Paul V. Johnson, Elder Gary B. Sabin and Elder Massimo De Feo — expressed sympathy to Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris.

“The Latter-day Saint leaders shared their hope both for the people of France and the entire Christian world that Notre Dame will be restored as a symbol of faith,” the release said.

Other church leaders penned a separate letter to Bishop Oscar A. Solis, appointed in 2017 by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Salt Lake City. Ballard and Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, along with Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Church’s Utah Area Presidency, expressed to Bishop Solis their deep sadness at the damage done to Notre Dame, the church release said.

Other Latter-day Saint leaders have close connections to Paris and Notre Dame, its history and influence on Christianity and the world.

Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the General Relief Society presidency, shared her concern and sadness on her Facebook page and shared her feelings about living in Paris for a year about a decade ago.

The church’s Presiding Bishop Gerald Causse’ was born in Bourdeaux, France. His parents joined the church when he was an infant. He has expressed his concern and sadness on Twitter.

“I would like to tell my brothers and sisters from the Catholic faith that the Cathedral of Notre Dame belongs to all of us and we stand all around them to support them and sustain them in rebuilding this beautiful place, “ Caussé said.

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

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