- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

Mormon leaders, Sharpton to meet

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaders for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Rev. Al Sharpton are planning an in-person meeting, a church spokesman said.

Mr. Sharpton asked for the meeting during a telephone apology he gave to two church elders after he said during a May 7 debate that Mormons don’t believe in God.

“Mr. Sharpton and church leaders are looking at possible dates for a meeting, but nothing is imminent,” church spokesman Scott Trotter said.

Mr. Sharpton spoke by phone with Russell M. Nelson and Henry B. Eyring, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second tier of church leadership.

The minister and former Democratic presidential candidate’s remarks were about Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Mr. Sharpton said that “as for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don’t worry about that, that’s a temporary situation.”

Mr. Sharpton says the remark was distorted for political purposes and has apologized to “regular Mormons” for the slight, saying he “wasn’t saying that Mormons didn’t believe in God, I was saying that we weren’t going to have to rely on atheists” to defeat Mr. Romney.

Mr. Sharpton has not apologized to Mr. Romney, but called for a “dialogue or reconciliation.”

A Romney spokesman has said nothing constructive would be accomplished by meeting with Mr. Sharpton. Mr. Romney has called Mr. Sharpton’s remarks bigoted.

Presbyterians ban gays as ministry candidates

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The ban in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on ordaining noncelibate homosexuals also extends to candidates for ministry, the denomination’s high court said.

The Permanent Judicial Commission took up the issue in the case of a lesbian who was allowed to become a candidate for ministry in the Mission Presbytery in Texas even though she said she was in a same-sex relationship.

The moderator of the Texas governing body had said at the time that the requirement of chastity for unmarried clergy did not apply to those entering the candidacy process. The presbytery then voted to support the woman’s candidacy — moving her closer to ordination.

The following year, she withdrew her name from the roll of candidates. But the Judicial Commission said in a May 7 statement that it was still concerned that leaders of the Mission Presbytery had misread the denomination’s governing Book of Order and therefore “misled” those who voted on the woman’s candidacy.

Greek patriarch seeks backing in crisis

ATHENS — Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III of Jerusalem said Monday that he was counting on support from Jordan’s King Abdullah II to help resolve a crisis over the handling of church property.

Jordan’s Cabinet decided May 12 to “withdraw its recognition” of Theofilos “for failing to fulfill the obligations he promised to the Jordanian government,” saying he failed to act on a pledge to annul an unsanctioned church-property sale to Israel.

The patriarch of Jerusalem requires recognition from Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The Greek Orthodox Church abides by a 1958 Jordanian law banning the sale of any church property in Jerusalem, which Jordan ruled along with the West Bank until Israel seized the territories during the 1967 Middle East War.

Theofilos, enthroned in late 2005, replaced Patriarch Irineos I following claims he was involved in the unsanctioned sale of church property in Jerusalem to an Israeli company.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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