updated 1/25/2006 5:36:04 AM ET 2006-01-25T10:36:04

The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recovering Wednesday at a Salt Lake City hospital after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous portion of the colon.

The cancerous growth was found when Gordon B. Hinckley underwent a routine medical screening — presumably a colonoscopy — and was removed through a laparoscopic procedure, according to a church statement Tuesday night.

No other details were released, and it was not known whether there were any indications of additional cancer or whether chemotherapy will be used. The church also did not disclose the hospital where he was being treated.

The statement said Hinckley, 95, was expected to recover rapidly and resume his normal duties.

In the meantime, his counselors Thomas S. Monson and James E. Faust, will handle the work, as is routine when the church president is indisposed, said church spokeswoman Kim Farah.

Presidents of the Mormon church serve for life.

President since 1995
Hinckley has been president of the 12 million-member Mormon church since 1995. At that time, he told reporters he had spent only one night in his life as a hospital patient, but, “That doesn’t mean I’m ready to run a 100-yard dash.”

Hinckley disclosed last summer that he has diabetes.

A third-generation member of the church, Hinckley has worked for the church for 70 years. He is its most-traveled president, and remains active in church affairs despite his age. In December, he attended a 200th anniversary celebration in Sharon, Vt., marking the birth of church founder Joseph Smith.

The architect of the church’s vast public relations network, Hinckley has long worked to burnish the faith’s image as a world religion far removed from its peculiar and polygamous roots.

On June 23, 2004, President Bush awarded Hinckley the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, in a ceremony at the White House.

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