News Release

Apostle Says Religious Community Can Ease Anxiety and Distrust

At gathering in Kazakhstan, Elder Soares encourages leaders to build connections that ‘help our societies weather the storms of life’

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said on Wednesday that religious community is a key to surviving our world’s epidemics of anxiety and distrust.

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“The enterprise of religion helps answer the question of suffering not directly, but through the love of other people, through the presence of those who have invested in our well-being,” the Apostle told those gathered at the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. “It’s part of the covenant of my faith to ‘mourn with those that mourn’ and ‘comfort those who stand in need of comfort.’ Throughout history, nothing has rivaled organized religion in its ability to foster commitment to concrete people who live in concrete places.”

Elder Soares is the first Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the congress. He also received a special medal of honor presented by Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. 

Elder Soares was accompanied at the event by Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Speaking to faith leaders from around the world, Elder Soares said religion encourages an “other-mindedness” that “instills social responsibility in our lives, based not on self-interest but as a promise to God. Fellow believers are often in the best position to care for an ailing person, repair a neighbor’s house, or fill in countless gaps that we ourselves cannot fill.”

Elder Soares noted a recent report from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that shows the important role faith-based groups play in helping refugees. With the help of the religious, refugees are finding asylum, acceptance and a voice.

“A culture is only as strong as the values of its members,” Elder Soares said. “The virtues of honesty, dignity, religious freedom, toleration toward difference, forgiveness, appreciation for beauty and striving for fairness all come from the reciprocal respect between citizens. The peaceful coexistence of diverse religious practices, political opinions and philosophical beliefs relies upon a rich tapestry of laws, customs, habits, morals and ideas designed to keep human affections moving outward instead of inward.”

The Apostle encouraged faith leaders to “reflect a little deeper, love a little stronger, communicate a little clearer, and build the kinds of connections that help our societies weather the storms of life.”

Read Elder Soares’ talk, “Striving Souls and Sustainable Societies: Developing Hope in a World of Suffering.”

This triennial congress of faith leaders began in 2003 as a response to the 9/11 attacks. The Church of Jesus Christ first participated in 2009 when Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy spoke. Elder Jörg Klebingat of the Seventy represented the Church in 2015 and Elder Alexey V. Samaykin, Europe East Area President, represented the Church in 2018.

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