Five new temples planned for Mormon church, including one in Canada

The Canadian Press/October 5, 2008

Salt Lake City - Mormon church president Thomas Monson says the church has plans to build five new temples worldwide, including one in Calgary.

The Calgary temple will increase the number of temples in Canada, where the church has more than 170,000 members, to eight.

In addition to the Alberta project, the church plans to build temples in Cordoba, Argentina; Rome, Italy; Philadelphia, and the greater Kansas City, Mo., area.

Monson's announcement came as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened its two-day semi-annual General Conference.

The event draws more than 100,000 to the faith's Salt Lake City campus, which includes the Salt Lake City Temple and the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, home of the renowned Tabernacle Choir.

The 13-million-member Utah-based church has 128 operating temples worldwide.

Plans for an additional 12 temples were already in the works before this newest announcement.

A Kansas City-area temple should hold great significance for Mormons.

In the 1830s, church founder Joseph Smith led an early Mormon migration to Independence, Mo., and declared the area would be the centre of Zion and the New Jerusalem.

Now a Kansas City suburb, many Mormons also believe the area was the original site of the Garden of Eden.

Monson has dedicated three temples - in Curitiba, Brazil; Panama City, Panama; and Twin Falls, Idaho - since he was named the 16th church president in February.

Temples play an important role in the lives of Latter-day Saints.

Only members in good standing may enter the towering white buildings, where members perform sacred religious ceremonies, including proxy baptisms and wedding ceremonies known as sealings.

Worldwide temple building is a legacy from 15th church president Gordon B. Hinckley.

He began the effort so that members of the church outside the United States could more easily access the buildings to perform their religious rituals.

The locations selected for new temples reflect the growth of the church.

There are currently 11 Mormon temples in Europe, but none are in the Mediterranean region or in Rome, the historical seat of Christianity and the home of the Roman Catholic church.

Mormons have had a presence in Italy since 1850, although the church's missionaries have not always been allowed to proselytize there, according to information on a church Web site.

Currently, the church has more than 22,600 members in Italy.

In May, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy issued an order to Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries from Mormons.

Officials said the step would prevent Mormons from posthumously baptizing by proxy their Catholic ancestors.

The Cordoba temple will be the second in Argentina and bring the total number of temples in Latin America to 34. Argentina has more than 363,000 Latter-day Saints.

There are 51 temples in the United States.

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