So reads the headline of a recent Reuters article written by Religion Editor Tom Heneghan. The article, which discusses the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead, appeared today on the Reuters web site.
PARIS (Reuters) – Pope Benedict was baptized at birth and will most likely be baptized again one year after his death, not by his Roman Catholic Church but by a Mormon he never met.The Mormons, a U.S.-based denomination officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), encourage members to baptize the dead by proxy in the belief they are helping the deceased attain full access to heaven.
Church members are told to focus on their ancestors, a rite understandable in a relatively new denomination founded in 1830. But so many now perform the rituals for celebrities, heroes and perfect strangers that the practice has spun out of control.
Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Genghis Khan, Mao Zedong, King Herod, Al Capone and Mickey Mouse have all appeared for a short time in the International Genealogical Index for proxy baptisms, said Helen Radkey, a researcher specialized in the IGI.
Journalist Tom Heneghan suggests it is reasonable to expect Pope Benedict to be baptized by proxy in an LDS temple a year after the Pope’s future but inevitable demise, citing “a centuries-long list of popes Mormons have baptized” already. Mr. Heneghan thinks it strange that Pope Benedict will be baptized LDS given the fact that, when he served in the capacity of “the Vatican’s top doctrinal authority,” he ruled that Mormon baptisms are not Christian.
LDS Church spokeswoman Kim Farah responded:
“There is no reason theologically why a former Pope or any other church leader shouldn’t be offered the same opportunity given to the rest of mankind.”
In fact, theologically, perhaps the Pope is more in need of this kind of Mormon intervention than the rest of mankind. According to past LDS apostles, the Catholic Church was founded by the Devil and all authority residing within that Church is only that “which his Satanic majesty was pleased to bestow upon her” (LDS Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, 1884, page 205).
In explaining a passage from the Book of Mormon, late LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie wrote,
It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this “church which is most abominable above all other churches” in vision. He “saw the devil that he was the foundation of it” and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization. (1 Ne. 13:1-10)He saw that this most abominable of all churches was founded after the day of Christ and his apostles; that it took away from the gospel of the lamb many covenants and many plain and precious parts; that it perverted the right ways of the Lord; that it deleted many teachings from the Bible; that this church was the “mother of harlots;”… (1 Ne. 13:24-42)
Nephi beheld further that this church was the “mother of abominations,” and “the whore of all the earth”… (Mormon Doctrine, 1958 edition, page 130)
Later in the same book Apostle McConkie expanded on the doctrine a bit:
…speaking of harlots in the figurative sense, [Nephi] designated the Catholic Church as “the mother of harlots” (1 Nephi 13:34; 14:15-17), a title which means that the protestant churches, the harlot daughters which broke off from the great and abominable church, would themselves be apostate churches.” (ibid., page 315)
Given the view of the Catholic Church expressed by LDS apostles, maybe that explains why Pope John Paul II was vicariously baptized in a Mormon temple four times (and Pope Pius XII three times); maybe “the same opportunity given to the rest of mankind” — usually just one proxy baptism per person — isn’t sufficient for the worldwide leaders of Satan’s great and abominable church.
Interestingly, the Reuters article points out that the public version of the LDS Church’s International Genealogical Index available online is a “purged version,” which does not show the temple ordinances that have been performed for the individuals on the list; that information is only available to Mormons. Furthermore, the article says the name of Pope John Paul II has been removed from the online IGI, though his now-anonymous files remain in the database.
Names are purged from the public IGI after being found and publicized. Pope John Paul I and Pope Paul VI were both baptized and were listed on the online IGI in December but removed after Reuters asked about them, [LDS Church spokeswoman] Farah confirmed.
Researcher Helen Radkey claims, “They remove any names that could potentially cause criticism.”
I wonder if that’s the same reason the current edition of Mormon Doctrine no longer designates the Catholic Church as the “whore of all the earth.” While Bruce McConkie’s exposition of 1 Nephi was clearly in line with the teachings of earlier LDS leaders, subsequent editions of the book (after 1958) have “purged” from its pages the controversial identity of Catholicism as “the Church of the Devil.”