News Release

Elder Soares Visits the President of Uruguay

‘We are on the same page,’ the Apostle says. ‘He is thinking about empowering people to become independent. And we are helping people become self-reliant.’

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints met with Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou on the morning of Wednesday, June 7, 2023, at the president’s residence in Montevideo.

The meeting was part of the Apostle’s weeklong visit to South America. He visited Chile earlier this week. Elder Soares was joined in the presidential visit by Elder Joaquin E. Costa of the Seventy and Church Communication staff members Marcelo Chappe and Alfredo Salas.

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President Lacalle Pou is already acquainted with the Church of Jesus Christ. He attended a religious liberty symposium at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2019. And in 1992, his father (former Uruguay President Luis Alberto Lacalle) spoke with Latter-day Saint youth in Montevideo.

On Wednesday, the Uruguayan leader told his Latter-day Saint visitors that he is focused on building a stronger nation by empowering the families and individuals of Uruguay.

“We are on the same page,” Elder Soares said. “He is thinking about empowering people to become independent. And we are helping people become self-reliant. That goes in the same direction. It was very positive to understand his position and align with his efforts.”

Elder Costa said the conversation was productive in large part because of a shared love for Jesus Christ. President Lacalle Pou is of Catholic background.

“The first commandment, Elder Soares said, is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbors and our friends as ourselves. And [President Lacalle Pou] felt that, so he opened his heart to us. We are ready to help him in his initiatives in whatever way we can,” said Elder Costa.

Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou receives a Christus statute from Elder Soares during a visit to the presidential residence in Montevideo on June 7, 2023. © 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Elder Soares said the president’s impression of the Church is “very positive.”

Lacalle Pou was surprised to learn that the Church had been a major contributor to a project that provides eye care for patients living outside the capital city.

In the last five years, the Church of Jesus Christ has put more than US$2 million toward more than 60 humanitarian projects in Uruguay.

“He sees that the Church is an entity that is willing to help people,” Elder Soares said. “And I reaffirmed that to him. We love God because that’s our first commandment. [And] we love our neighbor as ourselves. We strive to do everything we can to help people. We use the resources we have through serious entities and organizations in the world to express our love to our neighbor.”

Uruguay is home to nearly 107,000 Latter-day Saints spread throughout 129 congregations.

Elder Soares, a native of Brazil, said he also spoke with President Lacalle Pou about how, despite our differences, we can “live together and go forward to bless the people” by promoting religious liberty and creating a more stable and prosperous society.

“No matter where we are, no matter the country in which we are living, we are all children of God,” Elder Soares said. “And, as children of God, we try to help people come together so we can return to our Heavenly Father one day. That’s our future.”

Elder Soares, accompanied by his wife, Rosana, will next minister in Argentina.

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