Pope 'is not the anti-christ'

Presbyterians are not required by Church doctrine to regard the Pope as an " anti-Christ", according to the new Moderator, the Rev Dr Ken Newell.

Dr Newell confirmed yesterday that in 1988 the General Assembly had fully accepted that one of the claims of the Westminster Confession of Faith that the Pope is "the anti-Christ" was "not evidently manifest in scripture".

He himself had seconded this amendment which had been proposed by the Rev Dr Trevor Morrow, who later became a Presbyteran Moderator.

He was replying to criticism from the Free Presbyterian Church, following his personal invitation to the Catholic Primate Archbishop Sean Brady and other Church leaders to attend the opening night of last week's General Assembly.

The Free Presbyterians had staged a protest outside Church House, led by the Rev Ian Paisley.

Dr Newell also refuted claims that the Primate had been "smuggled in".

Dr Newell said the Presbyterian Church had confirmed the right of an incoming Moderator to invite his own list of personal guests to the opening night.