Oct 1, 12:07 PM EDT

Religion news in brief

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Mass. Catholics hold vigil in endangered churches
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Episcopalians battle behind walls of NYC seminary

Pope convenes Mideast envoys amid Islamic threat

Pope urges Europe to open doors to refugees

Religion news in brief

Fight for growing Pentecostal vote in Brazil

Catholic priest in Puerto Rico accused of abuse

Man accused of stabbing 3 at church gets 5 years

Pope hails Benedict, other elderly at Vatican fest

Western Muslims, troubled, rally against extremism

Republicans rallying behind religious liberty

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Pope hails Benedict, other elderly at Vatican fest

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis has hailed the value of the elderly, including his predecessor Benedict XVI, who joined him at a ceremony in St. Peter's Square honoring the contribution of grandparents to society.

Tens of thousands of people, many of them elderly couples and their grandchildren, applauded Sunday when Francis told them that Benedict's living in papal retirement at the Vatican is "like having a wise grandparent at home." Francis warmly embraced the frail, 87-year-old Benedict, who used a cane and wore a long white coat despite the warmth of a summerlike morning.

Francis, who is 77, decried homes for the elderly that are like "prisons," saying the elderly are often "forgotten, hidden, neglected" in society, tantamount to a kind of euthanasia. He said elderly persons transmit "wisdom and faith, the most precious inheritance."

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Netanyahu says militant Islam is a cancer

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says militant Islam is a cancer that's spreading and must be removed before it's too late.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu warned that wherever militant Islam rules, "women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice: convert or die."

The Israeli leader said Hamas and the Islamic State group are "branches of the same poisonous tree," both bent on world domination through terror, just as the Nazis were. But a Palestinian official says the speech was "a blatant manipulation of facts," hate language and slander.

Turning to Shiite Islam, Netanyahu warned that the gravest threat to the world today is the danger of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

He concluded his speech by quoting a verse from the Bible's book of Isaiah: "For the sake of Zion I will not be silent. For the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch."

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NFL says Abdullah should not have been penalized

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The NFL says Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to his knees in prayer after an interception.

Abdullah is a devout Muslim who took a year off from football to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The flag thrown in Kansas City's 41-14 victory over New England left many wondering how his prayerful celebration was different from players like former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow dropping to one knee in Christian prayer.

NFL rules prohibit players from celebrating while on the ground, but a league spokesman said Tuesday that officials should not flag a player who goes to the ground as part of a religious expression, so there should have been no penalty on the play.

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Franklin Graham says his weakened father prays

WASHINGTON (AP) - Just over a month shy of his 96th birthday, evangelist Billy Graham remains lucid but far weaker than last year, according to his son.

The Rev. Franklin Graham says his father is in stable condition at home, but only has strength enough for short conversations and spends much of his time in prayer.

On his 95th birthday last November 7, Billy Graham was celebrated at a party attended by hundreds that featured the release of a nationally-broadcast evangelistic film. Unused footage from that film has been assembled into a Billy Graham feature on heaven that will be released on his upcoming birthday.

But Franklin Graham says any birthday observance for his father this November will be "a little quieter."

The younger Graham, who now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, says, "I'm just thankful that I still have him with me, and he still gives me advice, so I appreciate that."

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What to serve a guest who's fasting? Hospitality

WASHINGTON (AP) - What do you serve a man who isn't eating? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (nah-REN'-drah MOH'-dee) got warm water and an empty plate as guest of honor at a White House dinner and a State Department luncheon.

It may seem odd to honor a man who is observing a religious fast with official meals. At the State Department luncheon, Vice President Joe Biden joked that it's what Catholics call "an occasion for sin." But diplomatic officials say it's perfectly appropriate, so long as the visiting leader is pleased to sit and sip water while others dine.

The prime minister of India observes an annual fast dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga, consuming only water or lemon-water for nine days.

Modi says he's been doing that more than 35 years.

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