SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon President Thomas S. Monson is no longer coming to meetings at church offices regularly because of limitations related to his age, church officials said Tuesday.
Monson, 89, communicates with fellow leaders on matters as needed, according to a statement from Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The news that Monson is scaling back his duties marks the latest sign that his health is slowly deteriorating.
Monson was hospitalized in early April after he reported “not feeling well” and released a few days later after receiving treatment in fluids. The church didn’t offer any more details.
That hospitalization came after Monson spoke to church members at the religion’s twice-yearly conference in Salt Lake City, but skipped some sessions. He has been handling recent conferences with similar partial participations for the last couple of years.
In October 2016, church officials said Monson was “feeling the effects of advancing age” but still coming to the office every day.
Monson, considered by followers to be the religion’s prophet, has been the church’s leader since 2008. Church presidents serve until they die.
Past church presidents have also scaled back duties as they got older, including Ezra Taft Benson. He was limited in the final years of his life until he died in 1994.
Per church tradition, the next longest-tenured member of the church’s governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles becomes the next president. Right now, that is Russell M. Nelson, 92.
Hawkins said in the statement that Monson is appreciative of thoughts and prayers from church members and appreciated that his two top counselors in what is known as the “First Presidency” and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve are making sure church business is taken care of.
Monson himself wrote about the aging process in a 2013 article reflecting on his first five years in the post.
“Age eventually takes its toll on all of us,” Monson said. “Despite any health challenges that may come to us, despite any weakness in body or mind, we serve to the best of our ability. I assure you that the Church is in good hands.”
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