Media Watch

Small Earthquake Hits Holy Land

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, Feb. 16 — A minor earthquake struck the Holy Land on Feb. 11, causing damage to several pilgrimage sites, Independent Catholic News reported.

Small fractures appeared in the ceiling of St. Catherine's Church, where midnight Mass is celebrated each Christmas Eve.

“Engineers from the local council came and said the cracks are not severe,” said Father Ibrahim Faltas, one of the Franciscan custodians of the Holy Land.

Independent Catholic News said seismologists predict a major, devastating earthquake will hit the geologically unstable region within the next 50 years, causing the worst damage in Jerusalem, which houses the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque.

“The layer below is not made of solid rock but rather a kind of rubble,” said a leading Israeli seismologist, Amos Bein. “Those weak foundations could magnify an earthquake's seismic wave.”

Ugandans Stand by Peacemaking Priest

CATHOLIC INFORMATION SERVICE FOR AFRICA, Feb. 16 — Father Carlos Rodriguez, a Comboni Missionary, faces deportation back to Spain from Uganda because of his activities on behalf of peace in that country's war-torn north, according to the Catholic Information Service for Africa.

After reporting that a refugee camp appeared to have been attacked by government forces Feb. 1, Father Rodriguez was accused of spreading “false information prejudicial to national security” and was scheduled for expulsion.

In response, two members of Uganda's Parliament have criticized the Ugandan army and President Yoweri Museveni. Ugandan members of parliament Ogenga Latigo and Odonga Otto told journalists Feb. 12 the deportation of Father Rodriguez would prove the government has a vendetta against Catholics.

“We should ensure the Church gets the immunity it deserves,” Otto said. “Catholics want peaceful means to end the war.“

Anonymous Abortion Alternatives in Germany

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, Feb. 15 — Women in Germany now have a number of surprising alternatives to abortion, according to Agence France-Presse.

For example, women can now sign in to a hospital anonymously to give birth to a child — or to leave the child safely in a “baby hatch,” sliding him through a side door of a hospital into a safe compartment where caregivers can find him.

These hatches began in April 2000 in Hamburg after a dead infant was found in a garbage bin, the fifth such abandoned child that year. Some 50 babies appear on the streets of Germany each year.

At each hatch, the mother will find a letter in several languages telling her how her child will be cared for and offering her a chance to confirm the child's identity through a foot or handprint in case she wishes to inquire about him later. (If she does not claim the child within eight weeks, he is placed in an adoptive home.)

“These women are in a crisis situation — they often have no one, no help, no understanding of their rights,” said Franziska Klotz of Sternipark, which sponsors the hatches. “We are there to give them time to think and a chance to reorient themselves.”