Slovak bishops urge believers not to support registration of Mormon church

Bratislava, Slovakia - Catholic bishops urged believers against supporting the registration of a Mormon church in Slovakia, saying that would be a betrayal of the Catholic Church.

Earlier this month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had asked all Slovaks "who care about religious liberty" to sign a petition supporting its bid to set up a church. Slovak law requires 20,000 signatures for a church to be legally registered.

Slovak bishops released a statement, however, saying the Mormon church's doctrine was "not in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church."

"We call on all Catholics ... not to sign this petition and not to betray the Catholic church," the bishops' statement said.

The Mormon church said Monday it was not looking to poach the Catholic Church for converts.

"We respect the decision of every citizen, and the petition was in no way meant to convert anybody to our faith," spokesman Petr Valnicek said. "Religious liberty is all we had in mind."

Slovakia, a central European country of 5.4 million, is predominantly Catholic.

There are only about 100 Mormons in Slovakia, and nearly 2,000 in the neighboring Czech Republic.

The Mormon church, based in the U.S. state of Utah, has a worldwide membership of more than 12 million, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Web site.

Mormons believe Jesus is the resurrected son of God, but Joseph Smith — who founded the Mormon church in 1830 — made hundreds of "corrections" to the Christian Bible, and Mormons hold beliefs that differ significantly from traditional Christian doctrines.