News Release

Peru’s President Attends Country’s Bicentennial Independence Celebration Held on Lima Temple Grounds

Government officials, diplomats and religious leaders also attend interreligious event

On Monday, the president of Peru and interfaith leaders gathered in the garden area of the Lima Peru Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to celebrate 200 years of the country’s independence.

The interreligious meeting, titled “We Pray for Peru” was broadcast live on TV Peru, one of the country’s national channels. It was attended by Francisco Sagasti, the president of the republic, as well as state ministers, ambassadors and some of the country’s most prominent religious leaders.

“What you are doing ... is a demonstration. It is a very clear example of what we can do in Peru, starting from different points of view, but always having an idea, a common vision,” said President Sagasti.

“All this reminds us that we are here not only to seek transcendence beyond our lives, but to live in harmony, to live together, to live in solidarity and think of the other as equal,” he said. “I thank you for these beautiful minutes, this beautiful time of peace and tranquility.”

The program focused on expressions of gratitude and hope. It also included performances by the renowned Peruvian artists Susana Baca, Jean Pierre Magnet, Silvia Falcón and Manuel Miranda.

President Sagasti opened the event with a review of the country’s rich culture, diversity and people. The South American leader then described various religions’ arrival and their influence on Peruvian society during its two centuries of independence from Spain.

He also highlighted soprano singer Silvia Falcón’s rendition of the national anthem in Spanish and Quechua, both of which are the country’s official languages. He also noted Delio Siticonatzi, who performed the song “Vasijas Rotas” in Aymara.

“We have the need to forgive each other, because without forgiveness there is no reconciliation,” said Laura Vargas, executive secretary of Peru’s Interfaith Council “Religions for Peace,” the event’s organizing entity. “We must heal the wounds and walk together in truth and justice and reach agreements where we all win.”

The country’s most prominent Catholic leaders attended the event, including Lima Archbishop Carlos Castillo and Huancayo Archbishop Cardinal Pedro Barreto.

Evangelical, Anglican, Lutheran, Latter-day Saint, Methodist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, Bahá'í and Brahma Kumaris leaders were also present to celebrate the country’s bicentennial independence anniversary.

Guillermo Estrugo, the South America Northwest Area’s Director of Communication for the Church of Jesus Christ, offered a prayer.

“From this beautiful temple, Your home, all religions united with one heart, we beg You to continue looking at Your needy children and the poor, that newly called leaders may also have Your light and serve the common good,” Estrugo prayed.

Shortly before the event ended, Elder Jorge Zeballos, Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ South America Northwest area, thanked the president of the Republic, government officials and those that attended for their participation in the historic event.

“As we commemorate these 200 years of independence of Peru, I express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for these two centuries of independent life and freedom of the great country of Peru, and I pray to the Father, that in the years to come, that He will continue to bless the country with wise and prudent leaders … with well-being, with growth and that we can peacefully coexist,” said Elder Zeballos. “That we may continue to develop in our hearts this gratitude for all that we have received from Him, for the opportunity to live with other people, to forgive each other and be happy.”

Elder Jorge Zeballos, Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints South America Northwest area, presents the Book of Mormon to Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti leading up to the interfaith event in Lima, Peru, on Monday, July 26, 2021. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Leading up to the event, Elder Zeballos welcomed President Sagasti and presented him with a Book of Mormon. President Sagasti thanked the local Church leader and said he was honored by the invitation.

The Interreligious Council of Peru was created 13 years ago, gathering previous experiences of interreligious dialogue and cooperation to promote dialogue amid a fraternal body of religious communities based in Peru. The council encourages, promotes and mobilizes interreligious cooperation through action for justice, peace, solidarity and care for development and promotion of ethical and moral values in the country.

The setting for this first and historic event was the Lima Peru Temple, a sacred building for Latter-day Saints. This is where local members of the Church enter covenants with God that are eternal in scope. The Lima Temple is the country’s first temple and the second to be built in South America. This year marks 40 years since the temple’s construction was announced.

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