UN chief urges calm amid Palestinian-Israeli violence
JERUSALEM (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for calm during a surprise visit to Jerusalem ahead of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The visit comes amid unrest that erupted a month ago over rumors that Israel was plotting to take over Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site. A spate of Palestinian attacks, most of which have involved stabbings, has caused panic across Israel and raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a new round of bloodshed.
The hilltop compound in Jerusalem's Old City is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the two Jewish biblical Temples. It is the holiest site in Judaism.
Known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, it houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It is the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Israel has insisted it has no plans to change the status quo at the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray.
Vatican denies report pope has small, curable brain tumor
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is denying a report in an Italian newspaper that Pope Francis has a small, curable brain tumor.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the report Wednesday in the National Daily was "unfounded and seriously irresponsible."
"The pope is carrying out as always with his intense activities," Lombardi said in a statement.
Citing unnamed sources, the newspaper said the pope had traveled to the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa in recent months to see a Japanese specialist, Dr. Takanori Fukushima. The newspaper said the doctor determined that the small dark spot on Francis' brain could be cured without surgery.
The newspaper's editor, Andrea Cangini, said it expected Lombardi's denial but stood by its story.
Mormon leader: Kentucky clerk takes wrong approach on gays
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Mormon Church is criticizing Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for refusing to license gay marriages. Mormon leaders say Americans should find common ground instead and seek compromises between protecting religious liberties and prohibiting discrimination.
Mormon leader Dallin H. Oaks says our cultural differences should not become "culture wars."
His speech was delivered Tuesday to a gathering of judges and clergy in Sacramento, California. The Associated Press was given an advance copy.
Oaks is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that guides The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and was chosen to deliver the statement because he also served as a Utah Supreme Court judge.
Davis and her attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Police release name of man killed in Detroit church shooting
DETROIT (AP) — Police on Tuesday released the name of a man who they say was shot and killed by a pastor during a confrontation in a Detroit storefront church.
Officer Jennifer Moreno said investigators are still questioning witnesses about the killing Sunday of 26-year-old Deante Smith, who was shot several times by the pastor at the City of God church. Police say the pastor shot Smith after Smith threatened him with a brick.
Authorities have declined to publicly identify the pastor, who was questioned and released without charge and who is cooperating with the investigation.
Police say the men knew each other and had problems. Officer Keisha Beasley-Dorsey said the pastor had previously filed a complaint about Smith with the department.
Smith's sister, Deja Ward, told The Detroit News that her brother and his wife had lived at one point with the pastor. Ward added Smith had no problems with anyone.
Religious leaders oppose DA who says Bible OKs death penalty
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Religious leaders of several faiths say it was illegal for a Louisiana prosecutor to invoke the Bible when he called on a jury to impose the death penalty.
In a court filing on Monday, more than 100 religious leaders asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to throw out the death penalty imposed on a 27-year-old Shreveport man for smothering his 1-year-old son in 2012. They say Rodricus Crawford was wrongly sentenced to death by a Caddo Parish jury.
During the penalty phase of the trial against Crawford, District Attorney Dale Cox referred to passages where Jesus Christ talks of punishing people who harm children by putting a millstone around their necks and throwing them into the sea.
The religious leaders spoke out against Cox in front of the Louisiana Supreme Court building in New Orleans.
Their legal brief said Cox's Bible references were both unconstitutional and a misuse of Scripture.