Mormon President Gordon Hinckley Dies
By tradition, at a church president’s death, the church’s most senior apostle is ordained within days on a unanimous vote of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. The most long-serving apostle now is Thomas S. Monson, 80. The vote is not likely to occur until after Hinckley is laid to rest. At least twice in the past the naming of a new president has lagged for several years, but in modern times the announcement has come within a week.
Hinckley, a grandson of Mormon pioneers, was president for nearly 13 years. He took over as president and prophet on March 12, 1995, and oversaw one of the greatest periods of expansion in church history. The number of temples worldwide more than doubled, from 49 to more than 120 and church membership grew from about 9 million to about 13 million.
Republican Mitt Romney, who is trying to become the first Mormon elected president, said Monday he would miss the humility and wisdom of Hinckley and plans to attend his funeral.
Video coverage from the AP:
Hinckley lived to a ripe old age; one can hardly complain about 97 years, mostly in superb health.
Thoughts naturally turn to the succession process and the rituals of the church and what impact, if any, it’ll have on Romney’s candidacy.
Thomas S. Monson, 80, who has been Gordon B. Hinckley’s first counselor since 1995 is in line for the presidency following Hinckley’s death on Sunday. Monson became a member of the Quorum in 1963, five years after Hinckley.
There’s similarity, of course, to the Roman Catholic Church, where the pope is elected by and from the College of Cardinals. It would be highly unusual, though, to reach that status at the age of 35, as Monson did, or to be elected to the papacy in one’s 80s.
My guess is that this will be a relative non-factor in the election contest. The next two days of the news cycle, barring an exceptionally interesting breaking story, will be devoted to speculating about the results of tomorrow’s Florida primary and then we’re likely to have a day or two of analysis of what the Florida results mean, followed by a frenzy over Super Tuesday. It’s unlikely that the Hinckley story will get much coverage amongst all that.
Photo credit: AP/NYT