Religion news in brief
Captured American journalist's employer seeks prayers
BOSTON (AP) - The head of a Boston media firm has asked for prayers for the family of American journalist James Foley. A video released by the extremist group Islamic State purportedly shows Foley being beheaded.
The request for prayers came from Foley's employer, GlobalPost.
Foley, who switched to journalism from teaching, went missing two years ago while freelancing in northern Syria.
His parents, John and Diane Foley, became advocates for him. They held regular prayer vigils and worked with diplomats to get information about him.
Islamic State group is so ruthless in its attacks against all people they consider heretics or infidels that it has been disowned by al-Qaida's leaders. It seeks to impose its harsh interpretation of Islamic law in the lands it is trying to control. It has been denounced by numerous Muslim leaders, including Saudi Arabia's chief cleric.
Top Saudi cleric: Islamic State is Islam's enemy
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Saudi Arabia's top cleric says extremism -- and the ideologies of groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida -- is Islam's No. 1 enemy and that Muslims have been their first victims.
Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik also said in his public statement that terrorism has no place in Islam, and the danger of extremists lies in their use of Islamic slogans to justify their actions that divide people.
King Abdullah has been pressing clerics to publicly condemn Islamic extremist groups since the government made it illegal for citizens to fight in conflicts abroad. Clerics who do not condemn terrorism in traditional Friday sermons could face penalties, such as having their licenses to preach revoked.
The Islamic State group's advances in Iraq and Syria have heightened security concerns in neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia. The group has declared an Islamic state in the territory it controls, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
University of Southern California professor Philip Seib (seeb) says the Saudis realize that Islamic State could use social media to make inroads with some Saudis.
Relatives of Pope Francis fatally injured in car crash
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Authorities in Argentina say three relatives of Pope Francis have been killed and a fourth critically injured in a highway car crash.
The small car carrying a nephew of the Pope and his family slammed into the back of a truck, killing the wife and children, one 2 years old and the other 8 months old.
Photos showed the passenger side of the car smashed and crumpled beneath the cargo truck. The accident occurred between the cities of Rosario and Cordoba, apparently as the family was returning to Buenos Aires following a holiday weekend.
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Pope was informed about the accident and is "deeply pained".
Pope hopes to visit United States next year
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) - Pope Francis says he hopes to travel to the United States in September 2015 for a possible three-city tour. The visit would include a rally in Philadelphia, an address to Congress and a stop at the United Nations.
He said a Mexico stop on that trip was possible but not decided yet. He also said he might make one-day visit to Spain next year.
Francis made the comment to reporters on his way back from South Korea.
Worker stabbed at popular San Francisco church
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Police say one person is in custody in connection with the stabbing of a staff worker at a popular church in San Francisco.
San Francisco Police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy says the worker suffered nonlife-threatening injuries after being stabbed in the shoulder inside Glide Memorial Church yesterday morning. Glide spokeswoman Denise Lamott says the worker was treated by his co-workers and then paramedics before being taken to a local hospital.
Police say a man allegedly involved in the stabbing fled from the church but was found on a nearby bus and detained by officers a few blocks away.
The church, located in the city's rugged Tenderloin neighborhood, is nationally renowned for its social activism and its annual Thanksgiving dinner that serves thousands.