From the front page of USA Today
Hinckley skips Mormon conference opener
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) =97 Mormon church President Gordon B. Hinckley
expressed regret over lives lost in wars, and carped criticism and the
racial denigration of others on Saturday night to close the first day
of the faith's twice-yearly conference.
By Douglas C. Pizac, AP
"I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning
those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ,"
the church president said, noting that in recent years he has
dedicated two church temples in Africa, where membership is growing.
The 95-year-old was scheduled to give the opening address in the
morning, but James E. Faust, one of two other men in the church's top
leadership, led the proceedings instead.
No official reason was given for the change, although church spokesmen
said Hinckley was conserving his energy.
Hinckley, in his 11th year as leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, has had recent health problems.
Hinckley suffers from a mild form of diabetes. In late January, he was
hospitalized for six days for surgery to remove a cancerous growth
from his intestine. He spent an additional 10 days or so recovering
and then went back to work, including making a trip last month to
Santiago, Chile, for the rededication of a church temple.
"He was strong and vibrant and it was vintage President Hinckley,"
said Dale Bills, a church spokesman, after Saturday evening's remarks.
Mormons gather in April and October to hear from church leaders on a
variety of topics meant to strengthen faith and provide spiritual
direction to the more than 12 million church members worldwide. More
than 100,000 attend the conference's five sessions.
The two-day conference is broadcast via satellite, television, radio
and the Internet to 83 countries in 86 languages.