Media Watch

The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem?

AGENCY FRANCE-PRESSE, Dec. 31 — News reports based on archives from the 1940s reveal that Catholic countries in the wake of World War II attempted to create an international authority for the city of Jerusalem — to be governed by Catholic nations, not the United Nations.

Agence France-Presse revealed Dec. 31 that in 1948 the governments of Italy and Spain approached the Irish government with this proposal. Spanish leader Francisco Franco first proposed the initiative after a vote by the U.N. General Assembly that attempted to extend U.N. authority to the holy city, which was soon divided between the nascent state of Israel and Jordan.

Previously classified documents released by the Irish government included a proposal by Franco that “Spanish, Portuguese and Irish representatives to the Holy See should make separate and concerted demarches to the Vatican suggesting that if any form of international regime were to be established in the Jerusalem area, the mandate should be entrusted to Catholic countries.”

Spain's goal was to maintain free access to Christian holy places, which it did not trust the United Nations to guarantee, the report noted.

The Spanish initiative stalled in Dublin, where the government deemed the plan “ill-conceived and unrealistic.” Irish officials also privately worried about offending international Jewish opinion at a time when it still officially aspired to regain from Great Britain the six counties of Northern Ireland.

British Catholic Agency Aids Earthquake Victims

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, Dec. 29, 2003 — The British-based Catholic Agency for Overseas Development has given more than $180,000 to Islamic Relief Worldwide to benefit victims of the deadly Dec. 26 earthquake in Bam, Iran, according to Independent Catholic News.

The natural disaster afflicted a region containing approximately 200,000 people, killing some 10% of residents and rendering tens of thousands of others homeless. Much of the city of Bam was built of mud bricks, the traditional construction material in the earthquake-prone region.

The city's two largest hospitals collapsed in the quake, killing many of Bam's doctors and nurses, and leaving the remaining health facilities overwhelmed. Many patients had to be treated in the rubble-strewn streets or removed to neighboring towns. All essential services, such as water, power and communications, were knocked out, leaving residents exposed to bitter winter conditions.

Tim Aldred, emergency officer for the agency, told the news site: “The current priorities are to provide the survivors with temporary shelter and medical assistance and to meet the most immediate basic needs.”

New Diocese Created in Mexico

MISSIONARY NEWS AGENCY, Jan. 3 — The Catholic Church in Mexico is reshuffling the territories of several dioceses in Mexico, creating a new bishopric in Irapuato, Guanajato.

The new diocese will consist of territory taken from the Archdiocese of Morelia and the diocese of León, according to the Missionary News Agency. The diocese contains more than a million people, most of them Catholic; 65 parishes; 107 diocesan priests; 43 religious fathers; and 204 religious sisters.

The first bishop of Irapuato is José de Jesús Martínez Zepeda, who has previously served as auxiliary bishop in Mexico City.