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 US protestants split over new pope

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WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Protestant leaders and thinkers were sharply divided Thursday on new Catholic Pope Benedict XVI, with the most conservative among them cheering the pope's hardline views on moral issues even as they rejected Catholic dogma.

Ironically, the Protestants most theologically at odds with the Vatican, like Baptists, Evangelicals and Mormons, expressed the strongest support for the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's stances against abortion, the ordination of women and marriage of priests, and homosexuality.

Those traditionally closest to Rome, like Lutherans, Episcopalians and Methodists, questioned the choice of a Catholic leader unbudging on issues they themselves have embraced.

"We are delighted with his stance because he holds to the same moral values in society that we do," said Robert Millet, a Mormon professor of religion at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Norman Geisler, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, condemned Catholics for still holding the beliefs that split the church and gave birth to Protestantism in the 16th century.


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