By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Financially-strapped Ireland announced its intent Thursday to close embassies in the Vatican and Iran, explaining it was not worthwhile to keep them open especially given its own dire economic straits.
Ireland also will close its representative office in Timor Leste, formerly known as East Timor, according to a statement from the nation's department of foreign affairs and trade.
"No area of government expenditure can be immune from the need to implement savings," the Irish government said. "Today's decision follows a review of overseas missions ... which gave particular attention to the economic return of bilateral missions."
With Greece and Portugal, Ireland received a substantial bailout as one of the euro zone's most lackluster economies. The crippling cost of the Irish government's bailout of its banks during the recent recession spurred Dublin's own financial crisis and the 85 billion-euro ($118 billion) loan package from the European Union, International Monetary Fund and individual European nations that was brokered late last year.
Millions of pilgrims have begun arriving in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.
By John Blake, CNN
As President Ronald Reagan used to say, “There you go again…”
When White House press secretary Jay Carney was giving a press conference Wednesday touting President Obama’s jobs bill, he invoked a popular saying that he said comes from the Bible.
That’s when things got twisted.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The faith community needs to be a check against political vitriol in the 2012 election, which two religious leaders say has the potential to be the "ugliest campaign" in decades.
Jim Wallis, the progressive CEO of Sojourners, and Richard Land, the conservative head of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, are two religious scholars with opposing political views. But at their joint event at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday, they agreed on some issues as they discussed and debated faith and the 2012 election.
According to Wallis, while he disagrees with Land on most political issues, they were able to have a civil debate - something Wallis hopes politicians can learn from.
"Richard Land and I are friends and we agree and disagree about policy matters. But the way we talk about it is in a civil manner," Wallis said.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.