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Mormon Church Rededicates Santiago Temple

March 12, 2006

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ The Mormon Church rededicated its temple in Chile’s capital on Sunday, an event that drew the church’s 95-year-old president, who had surgery less than two months ago.

Many of those present were ``moved to tears″ by the presence of Gordon B. Hinckley, said a church spokesman, Elder Sepulveda. Sepulveda asked to be identified by his church title and declined to provide his first name.

Hinckley traveled with his doctor, his sons and L. Tom Perry, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ principal decision-making body.

Hinckley also attended a cultural gathering of some 50,000 Mormons at a soccer stadium Saturday and acknowledged, ``this will probably be the last time I’ll be in Chile,″ Sepulveda said.

The rededicated temple, which had been closed for renovations, will reopen for religious services on Wednesday. It is on a site formerly occupied by a private school in the upper-class Providencia neighborhood.

Scores of Mormon chapels around the country followed the rededication ceremonies in Santiago via satellite television.

Hinckley has been president of the 12 million-member Mormon church since 1995. Church presidents serve for life. He was released from hospital last month after a cancerous growth was removed from his large intestine

In 2001, he received a heart pacemaker. Last summer, on his 95th birthday, he said he had diabetes.

Chile has 75 stakes, the equivalent of dioceses, but the number of Mormons in Chile, which appears to have grown substantially in recent years, was not publicly available.

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