75 years ago today - Jun 22, 1949

The Council of the Twelve was informed several weeks ago that you desired that further consideration be given to the matter of inviting the Patriarch to meet with the First Presidency and the Twelve in the weekly Temple meetings. Obedient to your wishes, the Twelve have devoted parts of several meetings to a discussion of this subject and now submit the report of their deliberations to you.

It is our considered judgment that it would not be wise to reinaugurate a practice, which, in our opinion, does not seem to fully carry out the revealed order in Church government. .... We are not able to see the place of the Patriarch in such an administrative council. The nature of his office is such that he would not seem to be vested with the right to vote in the proceedings and he is not charged with the responsibility of 'setting the Church in order.' We believe that it is generally agreed his office is one of blessing and is not executive in nature. His inclusion in the administrative meetings would seem to us to be somewhat confusing to the order of the Church.

The fact that the Patriarch is sustained in conferences as 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,' together with members of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, has received our attention. While we confess our inability to understand fully the meaning of these traditional terms as applied to anyone other than the President of the Church it does seem reasonably clear to us that the application of the terms does not operate to place all the men to whom they are applied on an equality of authority and privilege. Were it not so every man so sustained would be on a part with the President. The construction that seems most tenable to us is that each man shall be deemed to be 'a Prophet, Seer and Revelator' within the sphere of his particular calling or that these designated powers are conferred to be held in abeyance until such time as the person or persons so designated shall be called to act in the chief administrative office. The President of the Church is the
'Prophet, Seer and Revelator' to the whole Church in all matters. There are undoubtedly some limitations in this respect on the Twelve and very likely further limitations on the Patriarch to the Church. We do not know that the limitations have ever been defined, but we feel sure they must exist.

Another aspect of the matter we feel worthy of mention. We are all agreed that the office of the Patriarch comes by right to one of 'the blood.' It has also been agreed in previous discussions that one who is in line of succession, who is not unworthy, must be chosen. Eligibility for the office therefore may not and does not entail capacity for administrative functions. In his capacity as Patriarch, the man who holds the office may be filled with inspired blessings for the people. That should be his inheritance. ...

In relation to our council meetings in the Temple we venture a suggestion, namely: That all of the other brethren of the General Authorities be invited to join us in the Temple for the observance of one fast day in each quarter during the year. They would then have the opportunity of participating in our prayer circle on these days and partaking of the sacrament, privileges which, we think, few, if any of them, enjoy at the present time. After the administration of the sacrament and hearing such remarks as the President may feel to give they could be excused. In the interest of conserving time for the business of our meeting and for the other General Authorities as well, it could be understood that the prayer circle and sacrament services would not occupy more than one hour and a quarter. We feel sure that such an opportunity would be highly esteemed by our brethren and that the service would make for interested spiritual unity and good will.

We have assumed, of course, that you desired us to give our best judgment in the matter and this we do frankly and most respectfully.

[Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Letter to George Albert Smith, as quoted in Minutes of the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1910-1951, Privately Published, Salt Lake City, Utah 2010]

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