Los Angeles, California -- The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says that gays have "a problem" and need help.
Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of the traditional family, telling King that of gays, "We love these people and try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem. We want to help them solve that problem."
King then asked the 94-year old leader of the world's Mormons if the "problem" is one caused by gays themselves or one they were born with.
"I don't know. I'm not an expert on these things. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things. The fact is, they have a problem, Hinckley replied.
"Many people who have to discipline themselves. If they transgress, they become subject to the discipline of the Church. But we try in every way that we know how to help them, to assist them, to bless their lives."
Hinckley also reiterated the LDS opposition to same-sex marriage. Asked about civil unions Hinckley told King that the Church wants to be cautious.
"Well, we want to be very careful about that, because that - whatever may lead to gay marriage, we're not in favor of."
Earlier this year the Mormon Church was instrumental in getting passage of an amendment to the Utah Constitution banning gay marriage. In a statement published by the Church two weeks before voters in the heavily LDS state went to the polls the Church said that men should only marry women and that ''any other sexual relations, including [those] between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of family.''
Hinckley's appearance on the King show was his fourth. The interview also touched on the church's relationship to African Americans.
The Church did not allow blacks to hold the priesthood until 1978. King, who is Jewish, but whose wife is a Mormon, asked if there will ever be a black prophet.
"There could be," Hinckley responded noting that he earlier this year dedicated an LDS temple in Ghana and expects to dedicate another one in Nigeria next year.