By: Preston Phillips
Patriarch says moves to the US were never approved
SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday was the deadline.
The priests, though, are refusing to leave and are now waiting on Pope Francis to tell them what to do next.
Dozens of devout Chaldean Catholics attended an emergency mass Wednesday at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in Rancho San Diego, to pray for the 10 priests who have now been suspended by Sako.
He claims Father Noel Gorgis of El Cajon and other priests who he demanded return never had their moves to the United States approved when most of them fled Iraq around the time of the Gulf War to start churches and now must return to correct their status.
“To tell me go back to Iraq … it really is to make to tell me go and have suicide,” said Gorgis.
It is because of the presence of ISIS militants. Right now, no Christian or American is safe.
The Chaldean Catholic Diocese, though, says according to Catholic law, an appeal suspends the execution of a sentence, meaning the priests will be able to continue practicing here unless the pope says otherwise.
“What if the pope says you need to return to Iraq?” asked 10News reporter Preston Phillips.
“That way, I will consider I will go back to Iraq, but really, he will not tell me to go kill yourself,” said Gorgis.
If the priests did leave, the diocese says it would lead to a pastoral catastrophe and force the closure of basically half of the diocese.
There are only 14 priests serving the 140,000 Chaldean Catholics on the West Coast. Half of those they are serving live in San Diego County.
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