Archive of April 18, 2011

Scottish cardinal attacks ‘shameful’ British nuclear weapons

Falsane, Scotland, Apr 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.K.’s most senior Catholic clergyman is calling upon the British Government to give up its “shameful” nuclear weapons program.

“Do the right thing and give it up,” Cardinal Keith P. O’Brien of St. Andrews & Edinburgh said at an April 16 demonstration outside the British Royal Navy’s nuclear base in Faslane, Scotland. He also quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s saying: “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”

In 2006 the British government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, committed itself to replacing its entire submarine-based nuclear weapons system. That policy is currently being continued by the new British government under Prime Minister David Cameron. The present system, code named Trident, is headquartered at the Faslane naval base on the west coast of Scotland. The replacement system will also be berthed there.

Cardinal O’Brien told demonstrators, “Here at the gates of Faslane, there is no better place to say that it is not courageous of Britain to have these dreadful weapons of mass destruction. It is shameful to have them.”

“Trident is fast becoming obsolete, and we have the chance now to do the right thing and give it up. We have the chance to be peacemakers, echoing the Easter desire of Jesus Christ for a lasting peace.”

“I've been speaking of the teaching of the Catholic Church on nuclear weapons for many years now, telling our message to whoever is willing to listen, and I'm very pleased to repeat that teaching again today. As you'll see, it's a consistent teaching, a central part of our pro-life stance that has human dignity at its very core,” Cardinal O’Brien said.

The cardinal also quoted Pope Benedict who, in 2006, said, “This point of view, that nuclear weapons have any place in a civilized society, is not only baneful but also completely fallacious. In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all agree to change their course by clear and firm decisions, and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament.”

While fully committed to replacing its nuclear weapons system, U.K. government is presently re-assessing the cost of the project estimated by them at $33 billion. Options include reducing the number of submarines from four to three or sharing costs with the French government.

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Pope appoints youngest bishop in US to Detroit archdiocese (Updated)

Detroit, Mich., Apr 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Updated April 18, 2011 at 6:05 p.m. MST. Adds exclusive comment from Archbishop Gomez.

Pope Benedict appointed Texas priest Jose Auturo Cepeda as an auxiliary bishop of Detroit. At the age of 41, he will become the youngest bishop in the U.S.

Bishop-elect Cepeda currently serves as the rector of Assumption Seminary in San Antonio and is the third in a recent round of newly appointed auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Upon news of his appointment on April 18, the bishop-elect – who has never visited the city outside of its airport – expressed excitement over his upcoming move.

“I will learn much from the Church of Detroit,” he said on Monday. “God is the One who does all the work and gives us all the grace we need. All we need to do is say 'yes,' just like Mary. That's my attitude.”

Bishop-elect Cepeda will join Bishop-elects Monsignor Donald Hanchon and Michael Byrnes in being ordained bishops on May 5 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron welcomed the appointment and said that the new bishop-elect “comes to us with an apostolic mission to use all of his many gifts and talents for the service of the whole People of God in Southeast Michigan – with particular attention to that portion of our family which is Hispanic.”

“He is a true son of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Archbishop Vigneron added. “I know she will help him to share his gifts with us, so that all of us – from so many diverse cultures – will share our gifts of grace with one another.”

Archbishop Jose Gomez, the former head of the San Antonio archdiocese who is now leading the Church in Los Angeles, told CNA, "The appointment of Fr. Cepeda gives me great joy."

He described the bishop-elect as "a close and valuable collaborator" in San Antonio in his roles as the Director of Vocations and rector of the seminary.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is receiving "a good priest and a shepherd full of zeal and energy," Archbishop Gomez added. "I am sure he will be missed in San Antonio, but as a bishop he will serve a larger flock."

"Fr. Cepeda can count on my fervent prayers for his new pastoral duties."

Born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Bishop-elect Cepeda came to the U.S. with his family at the age of 19, having already started his discernment for joining the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in 1996 at his home parish of St. Mary Magdalen in San Antonio.

After serving as associate pastor of San Antonio's San Fernando Cathedral for four years, he then attended St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome, where he earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology.

Since returning to San Antonio, he has taught at Assumption Seminary and was made rector in 2010. He has also served as vocations director for the archdiocese and his ministry also included hosting a bi-lingual talk show on Catholic Television of San Antonio.

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Tabernacle destroyed in Spanish parish

Madrid, Spain, Apr 18, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Several intruders broke into a Spanish church, destroying the tabernacle and crown on a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The break-in occurred at the parish of St. Mary Magdalen in the Spanish city of Ciempozuelos during the early morning hours of April 13. Europa Press reported that the church's pastor told police that $26 was stolen out of a donations box and that the crown on a statue of Mary was destroyed.

The intruders also broke the door of the tabernacle and ransacked the sacristy, leaving vestments and liturgical vessels all over the floor. Investigators searched the entire church and parish grounds to collect evidence.

Several regional government officials recently visited the parish and the Poor Clare convent at Ciempozuelos, both of which are historic landmarks.

Police said the same intruders later attempted to rob three bars and a butcher’s shop, causing damage and making off with $427.

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Photograph's destruction likely 'what the artist wanted,' charges art historian

Rome, Italy, Apr 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The destruction of an art display depicting the crucified Christ drenched in urine is being described by one Catholic art historian as “probably what the artist wanted all along.”

Art historian Liz Lev made her comments to CNA following an attack on the controversial work while on display in Avignon, France.

The art installation, created in 1987 by American photographer Andres Serrano and dubbed “Piss Christ,” had already been subject to weeks of protest by local Catholics. Demonstrations reached such a level on April 17 that some protesters broke into the gallery and attacked it with hammers and screwdrivers.

The image is now considered to be damaged beyond repair.

Lev, an art historian at Duquesne University’s Rome campus, displayed little sympathy for the artist. “While violent destruction isn’t the answer for much of anything, when a work of art is of such provocation that it offends ones faith – be that Islam, Judaism or Christianity – then it is, to some extent, an act of conscience on the part of the faithful to avoid seeing his or her God denigrated in this fashion.”

She continued, “I mean a jar of the artist’s own urine with Christ in it? What does one really expect is going to happen?  What’s the point of such a piece if not provocation? What else did the artist want to create if not such a reaction? In a way, this is probably what the artist wanted all along.” 

The work has already faced criticism from the Catholic Church in France. Last week Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Vaucluse called upon the gallery to remove “this trash” from its display, labeling the work “odious.”

The French Culture Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, condemned the destruction of the display as “an attack on the fundamental freedoms of creation and expression.” 

A police complaint has been filed by the gallery.

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Ambassador Kmiec offers resignation after critical report

Valletta, Malta, Apr 18, 2011 (CNA) - U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec has offered his resignation to President Barack Obama, insisting his writings have had a “highly positive effect” on the U.S. mission.

“With the highest respect for your leadership, and with some understanding of the difficulty and complexity of the challenges that you and Secretary Clinton face each day, I ask that you accept my resignation effective on the Feast of the Assumption, 2011,” his April 13 letter said.

On April 7 the U.S. State Department’s Office of Inspector General released a 41-page audit of the embassy in Valetta which included criticism of the ambassador’s management of the embassy and his dedication to his unofficial writings.

“Based on a belief that he was given a special mandate to promote President Obama’s interfaith initiatives, he has devoted considerable time to writing articles for publication in the United States as well as in Malta,” the report said. The audit also cited the ambassador for not managing one female employee’s overtime after she logged 385 hours completing tasks for Kmiec.

In an April 16 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kmiec called the report “unfortunate” and based on “the unsupported speculation that someone doing as much writing as I have done could not have been devoted to the embassy mission.”

The inspector general’s office “failed to read any of my writing or see its highly positive effect on our bilateral relations,” he continued, charging that the report had a “flawed and narrow vision” of the embassy’s diplomatic mission.
Although some news outlets said the report rebuked Kmiec for speaking about subjects such as abortion and his religious beliefs, the report did not cite any specific comments from Kmiec. His articles have upset administration officials in Washington, according to the Associated Press.

Kmiec’s resignation letter to President Obama said the report expressed “dissatisfaction” with the extent of time he has devoted to promoting “personal faith and greater mutual understanding of the faiths of others as the way towards greater mutual respect.” Kmiec said he believes the president believes in these things “most strongly.”

The ambassador wrote that the only true and lasting peace will incorporate “sensitivity to the world’s faith traditions in diplomacy.” He expressed doubts about whether one could ever spend “too much time” on interfaith understanding.

The audit had also criticized Kmiec’s “unconventional approach,” his reluctance to accept the guidance and instructions of State Department officials, and the low frequency of his meetings with senior Maltese government officials, business executives and diplomatic colleagues.

Kmiec, 59, is a pro-life Catholic who was a prominent and controversial backer of President Obama during the 2008 election campaign. He is a law professor at Pepperdine University and he served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

The ambassador’s letter to President Obama closed with praise for Malta.

“I will forever value the privilege of representing my country in this proud and ancient land which, while geographically small, looms large in its commitment to the things that really matter. The world will never be in want of ‘uncommon kindness’ so long as there are the Maltese.”

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