News Release

First Catholic Cardinal from Rwanda Visits Church Headquarters 

Cardinal focuses on youth and family with help from Church global youth leaders

Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, Catholic Archbishop of Kigali, Rwanda, met with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in St George and in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA) from 10-13 September 2023. Cardinal Kambanda was accompanied in the visit by Father Eamon Gerard Murray, a Catholic Bishop from Brooklyn, New York (USA).

The Cardinal’s visit to Church global headquarters was focused on learning about the strong youth programs in the Church with an objective of developing strong young programs for the Catholic youth in Rwanda.

Cardinal Kambanda’s visit commenced with a tour of the recently renovated St. George, Utah Temple. Elder Kevin W. Pearson, a General Authority Seventy and President of the Utah Area of the Church, and his wife, Sister June Pearson, hosted the Cardinal at the St. George Temple. Elder Pearson explained the importance of The Houses of The Lord and of their vital function binding families across time and into eternity. Elder Pearson summarized Cardinal Kambanda’s visit to St. George by saying, “June and I were blessed to have the opportunity to share the St. George Utah Temple with Cardinal Kambanda and Father Eamon. They asked many insightful questions about the eternal nature of the family and the importance of regularly coming to the House of the Lord to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our visit was warm, open, and engaging. We left as friends who love the Savior.”

After traveling from St George to Salt Lake City, the Cardinal and Father Eamon first toured Welfare Square and the Humanitarian Center. The guests shared their admiration for the Church’s organization with its focus and effectiveness in alleviating human suffering all over the world. Multiple times during the tour, Father Eamon expressed, “The Catholic Church needs to up her game!”

Cardinal Kambanda and Father Eamon received an overview of youth programs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at a dinner hosted by General Young Men’s President Steven J. Lund, and General Young Women’s President Emily Belle Freeman.

The Highlight of the Cardinal’s trip to Global Church Headquarters was a meeting with Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Presidency of the Seventy of the Church. In this meeting between senior church leaders, the Cardinal said, “I love how you value the family. The family is under threat and there is an attack on the family. When the pandemic happened, the only church remaining was the family. The values of chastity, education for girls, and honesty are readily apparent in all you do.”

Elder Rasband shared with the guests that he has been to Africa many times and that the Church has a significant interest in helping people in Africa by strengthening the family and alleviating human suffering. He expressed that the Church would like to partner with the Catholic Church in Rwanda. The Cardinal, who is the presiding officer of the Catholic Church in Rwanda replied, “You are welcome in Africa.”

Cardinal Kambanda is the first Cardinal from the country Rwanda in Central Africa. 5 million Roman Catholics reside in Rwanda which is roughly half of the country’s population. Cardinal Kambanda was ordained a Priest on 8 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II during a Papal visit to Rwanda. A few years later, the Cardinal’s parents and all but one sibling were killed in the 1994 civil war in Rwanda. He was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Kibungo, Rwanda in 2013 then Archbishop of Kigali in 2019. Archbishop Kambanda was proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis on 19 November, 2020. There are currently 178 Cardinals worldwide in the Catholic Church of which 137 are Cardinal Electors. Cardinal Kambanda is a Cardinal Elector.

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