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Howard Hunter, the president, "prophet, seer and revelator" of the Mormon Church, died this morning in Salt Lake City after just 9 months at the helm of the 9-million member faith. He was 87 and suffered from prostate cancer. The one-time corporate lawyer served the shortest presidential term in the 165-year history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. TIME senior writer Richard N. Ostling notes that Hunter "had power in his church exceeding that of the pope, but made barely a dent as a church leader." (Mormons believe their leader, unlike the pontiff, can receive revelations directly from God.) Ostling adds that Hunter's successor, senior apostle Gordon Hinckley, 84, has actually been directing church affairs for several years.