SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Saturday from the church’s First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that discusses priesthood, questions of faith and apostasy.
The statement comes a short time after a co-founder of the organization Ordain Women, Kate Kelly, was excommunicated by an LDS Church disciplinary council for apostasy.
The statement from the LDS Church reads:
“In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of His children, the blessings of His priesthood are equally available to men and women. Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the Church has equal merit in the eyes of God. We express profound gratitude for the millions of Latter-day Saint women and men who willingly and effectively serve God and His children. Because of their faith and service, they have discovered that the Church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth.
We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them.
Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.”
The statement was given by “The Council of The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”
In response to the statement from the LDS Church, Kimberly Baptista, public relations director for Ordain Women, sent a statement.
“We sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and pray that they will continue to respond directly to the needs and desires of Church members and take their concerns and questions to God. They have released a statement that describes current church policy on priesthood, as follows: ‘Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices.’ There is no mention of why women cannot be ordained or that they will not be in the future.
“Further, the statement is an improvement in transparency for the Church, as it publicly discloses the official definition of apostasy from Church Handbook of Instructions Volume 1, a volume of church policy that is restricted from all but nine female church members. We affirm that we are not acting in opposition to the prophet or the Church, have not taught false doctrine, and do not meet any definition of apostasy.”
Kate Kelly spoke with FOX 13 News after reading the statement, see the video below for her comments. She previously said she intends to appeal the decision.