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President of the Mormon Church dies at 90

Community Admin 7 Jan 3
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas Monson gives a talk in Salt Lake City, Utah (October 2, 2011). Image copyright Reuters
Image caption During Mr Monson's presidency, dozens of new Mormon temples were built.

Thomas Monson, leader of the Mormon Church, has died at the age of 90, the church has announced.

Mr Monson died on Tuesday at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah surrounded by his family, according to a church statement.

In 2008 he became the 16th president of the church, following the death of Gordon Hinckley.

Mr Monson is known for leading the church's backing for a gay marriage ban in California in 2008.

He is likely to be succeeded by 93-year-old Russell Nelson, who is now the longest-serving member of the church's governing body.

During Mr Monson's leadership, the church's members grew from 13 to over 16 million worldwide, and dozens of new temples were built, according to the church.

He also reduced the minimum age requirement for missionaries, which led to an increase in missionary numbers the church added.

For the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the religion is officially known, the president of the church is also a prophet who receives divine revelations.

Among the faith's followers is 2012 US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who paid tribute to Mr Monson.

In 2008, at Mr Monson's urging, Mormons led a vigorous campaign in support of banning gay marriage in California - which backfired with protests and vandalism against the faith's church temples across the US.

Members of the church worship Jesus Christ, but have substantial differences in belief to the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians.