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The LDS Church said it will not build a temple on its planned site in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, bowing to the wishes of protesters who feared the giant Mormon structure would overshadow and block the view of a historic and iconic Marian shrine.
The LDS First Presidency announced the temple for Honduras' largest and capital city of Tegucigalpa on June 9, 2006, to meet the needs of 120,000 Mormons in the country.
A year later, LDS members and officials helped break ground for the sacred structure to be built adjacent to an LDS Institute of Religion building. But construction had to be halted in September 2007, due to the opposition of several city officials.
"We did realize it was relatively close [to the basilica] and considered design options to minimize the possible impact," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Friday. "None were satisfactory."
Mormon leaders in Honduras met with the Catholic cardinal there, who was "gracious and "amicable," Trotter said, but asked that the church move its temple to a different location.
After months of negotiation, Tegucigalpa's mayor refused to approve the plans and the church withdrew. "Out of respect for the laws and to avoid any perceived stand against the Catholic Church, LDS Church officials made the decision to relocate the temple," according to an independent LDS Web site (http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/tegucigalpa).
Meanwhile, news of Mormon withdrawal came as thousands of Hondurans were making their way to Our Lady of Suyapa, to celebrate the annual feast of the patroness of Honduras, Catholic News Service reported. Suyapa's story traces back to 1747, when Alejandro Colindres, a Honduran laborer, reportedly found the tiny statue, only 2.3 inches tall, while sleeping in a corn field northeast of Tegucigalpa.
It was sticking in his side as he slept. Colindres took the statue home, so the story goes, and kept it on a family altar for the next 20 years. Devotees built the basilica in 1777 and, in 1925, Pope Pius XII declared Suyapa, the patron saint of Honduras. Mormonism in Honduras is on the rise, Catholic News Service reported, but the Utah-based church's presence has "never been the object of hostility on the part of Catholics."