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Vatican calls any nuclear threat against North Korea ‘deplorable’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Holy See ratified and signed the new U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the high-level Vatican diplomat who signed the treaty told a U.N. conference that the Catholic Church supports efforts “to move progressively toward a world free of nuclear weapons.”

North Koreans watch a news report of an intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on a big screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Kyodo via Reuters)

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations Sept. 20. More than 40 other countries signed it as well. The treat would enter into force 90 days after at least 50 countries both sign and ratify it.

Also at the United Nations, Archbishop Gallagher addressed the 10th Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a treaty the Vatican adhered to in 1996. The text of his speech was released at the Vatican Sept. 21.

The Vatican, he said, believes “a nuclear test ban, nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are closely linked and must be achieved as quickly as possible under effective international control.”

But delays in getting eight more countries to ratify the treaty mean that it still has not entered into force. “Two decades without the treaty’s entry into force have been two decades lost in our common goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Archbishop Gallagher said.

The treaty, he said, “is all the more urgent when one considers contemporary threats to peace, from the continuing challenges of nuclear proliferation to the major new modernization programs of some of the nuclear weapons states.”

“The rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program are of special urgency,” he said. “The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations. The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security,” the archbishop said. “Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of annihilation.”

The new treaty signed by the Vatican bans testing, but also bans efforts to develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The United States and other countries possessing nuclear weapons did not take part in the negotiations and do not plan to sign the treaty.

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Virginia priest asks forgiveness for having been KKK member


ARLINGTON, Va. — Writing in the Arlington Catholic Herald, Father William Aitcheson, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, asked forgiveness for having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan years ago as “an impressionable young man.”

Father William Aitcheson, 62, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., said Aug. 21 that 40 years ago, “as an impressionable young man,” he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and called his actions “despicable.” “I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me,” he wrote in the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper. (CNS photo/courtesy Diocese of Arlington)

“As a young adult I was Catholic, but in no way practicing my faith,” Father Aitcheson, 62, wrote in an Aug. 21 op-ed in the diocesan newspaper. “The irony that I left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy.

“While 40 years have passed, I must say this: I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me,” he said.

In response Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said in a statement: “While Father Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan is sad and deeply troubling, I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to a conversion of heart.

“Our Lord is ready to help them begin a new journey, one where they will find peace, love, and mercy. The Catholic Church will walk with anyone to help bring them closer to God,” he said.

The diocese said “no accusations of racism or bigotry” have been directed against Father Aitcheson “throughout his time in the Diocese of Arlington.” His article “was written with the intention of telling his story of transformation,” it said. The diocese added that it had approved his request “to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well-being of the church and parish community.”

Father Aitcheson’s article was published with the headline “Moving from hate to love with God’s grace” and also posted on the newspaper’s website, http://catholicherald.com/home.



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