- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

National Presbyterians get less local money

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) says its regional bodies are sending less money than expected to national headquarters, partly out of protest over the direction of the denomination.

The Presbyterian financial officer said last week that the national church will receive about $400,000 less than anticipated for 2005, according to Presbyterian News Service. The national church had expected to receive about $13.2 million for the year.

The denomination, like other mainline Protestant groups, has been struggling for years to reconcile members who disagree over the Bible and homosexual relationships, among other issues.

In June, a Presbyterian national assembly voted to give local congregations and regional bodies some leeway to install homosexual clergy and lay officers with same-sex partners.

Ten of the 173 regional bodies, or presbyteries, said that some of their churches are withholding money in protest. Another 25 presbyteries said they had to underpay because individual churches had sent them less.

38 Muslim scholars accept pope’s apology

AMMAN, Jordan — Thirty-eight Muslim scholars and chief muftis from numerous countries have accepted Pope Benedict XVI’s apology for his remarks on Islam, the editor of a Muslim journal said.

The scholars signed an open letter that will be delivered to a Vatican envoy in the hope of engaging the pope in a dialogue to counter prejudice against Islam, said the Jordanian-based editor of Islamica Magazine, Sohail Nakhooda.

Mr. Nakhooda said on Oct. 13 that the leading clerics behind the letter were Sheik Habib Ali of the Taba Institute in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, special adviser to Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The signatories include the grand muftis of Egypt, Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Oman, as well as the Iranian Shi’ite cleric Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri, and professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Mr. Nakhooda said.

Last month, the pope gave a lecture in his native Germany in which he quoted a medieval text that said the Muslim faith contained “things only evil and inhuman.”

The citation provoked a storm of violent protest from Muslims across the world. The pope quickly distanced himself from the quotation, saying it did not reflect his personal view of Islam. He also expressed deep regret that Muslims had been offended by his use of the quote.

Chirac urges vigilance against anti-Semitism

PARIS — French President Jacques Chirac praised his government’s efforts to curb anti-Semitism and urged continued vigilance against religious prejudice.

Mr. Chirac spoke Tuesday at a Paris ceremony conferring the French Legion of Honor medal on Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S. group that fights racism and anti-Semitism.

“Today, hatred of others is spreading like a poison in the heart of our societies and across our borders,” Mr. Chirac said. “We must remain vigilant and fight tirelessly against the resurgence of this horrible beast.”

Mr. Chirac said France had responded to anti-Semitism with tougher laws but insisted “we cannot let our guard down.” In 2005, anti-Semitic crimes in France were down 48 percent compared with the previous year, according to the Interior Ministry.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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