SOCIETY FOR THREATENED PEOPLES – PRESS RELEASE

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Pope appoints Chaldean patriarch cardinal
Göttingen, 22^nd November 2007
Pope Benedict XVI appoints the Chaldean patriarch of Babylon cardinal:
necessity of speaking up for Christians in Iraq recognized

This Saturday the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon will be officially appointed cardinal in Rome . The Society for Threatened Peoples has made the following commentary: “The appointment of His Beatitude Emmanuel III honours his exemplary work for the Christian Assyro-Chaldean Aramaeans, who are being persecuted and harassed in southern and central Iraq .”

In 1987 there were about 1.4 million Christians living in Iraq , but at the beginning of the war in 2003 there were only some 650,000, said the GfbV near-east correspondent, Kamal Sido. Of these three quarters have been driven out of their homeland. Emmanuel III Delly is a tireless advocate of the Iraqi Christians who have had to flee from terror and destruction, reported the Kurdistan/Iraq section of the GfbV, which is centred on Arbil. It appealed to the international community of states, and firstly the Christian world, to protect Iraqi Kurdistan as the last haven of refuge for Iraq ’s Christians also from attacks by the NATO partner Turkey .

Emmanuel III Delly called in a newspaper interview on 20^th November to the governments in Europe, Australia and in the USA to support the Iraqi Christians. “Iraqi Christian refugees must be given economic aid on the spot, in Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a place where it is safe. This is the only way for them to stay in their home country.

His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly will be made cardinal on 24^th November at an official consistory. The decision on his appointment was announced on 17^th October 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Kurdish Minister for Religious Affairs, Sheikh Muhammed Shakely, has also been invited to Rome for the official ceremony. This is in recognition of the work of the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan in taking up Christian refugees, and for freedom of religion and tolerance in northern Iraq.

Dr Kamal Sido, Near-east correspondent of the GfbV is available for further information at tel. ++49 (0)173 67 33 980.

Background information

The head of the Chaldaean Church, Emmanuel III Delly was born in Telkaif on 6^th October 1927 in the so-called Nineve Plain not far from the provincial capital of Mosul in central Iraq . The Patriarch was christened Karim Geries Mourad Delly. On completion of his studies in Mosul and Rome he was ordained priest on 21^st December 1952.

Emmanuel III Delly is licentiate of philosophy and doctor of theology and of canonical law. He returned to Iraq in 1960. There he became General Secretary of the then Patriarch Paul II Cheikho.
Emmanuel III Delly was appointed deputy patriarch in 1962 and he was then ordained bishop in December and took part at the Vatican Council (11^th October 1962 to 8^th December 1965). He was entrusted with the challenge of pastoral and ecumenical thinking. On reaching the age of 75 Emmanuel III gave up his office on 19^th October 2002. On 3rd December
2003 the synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church agreed in Rome on Emmanuel III Delly as the successor to the deceased Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid.

The Chaldeans and the Chaldean Church :
Through the influence of Catholic missions, which since the 17^th century were active especially among the Eastern Syrian Christians, there took place a schism between large sections of the church of Antioch and the East as a whole, which entered into communion with Rome . They retained the eastern rites. Rome called them the Chaldean Chruch and their patriarch was given the title “Patriarch of Babylon”. So the Chaldean Church joined Rome and grew in the 19^th century. Since this time it is in numbers the largest Christian church in Iraq , having eight dioceses. There are in addition two each in Iran and the USA , one each in Lebanon , in Syria , Egypt , Canada , Australia and Turkey . The Chaldean Catholics number today about 600,000 faithful throughout the world and with 23 bishops. Of the 200 priests about half work in Iraq , while 20 care for the approximately 160,000 Catholic Chaldeans in the USA . About 18,000 live today in France .

Both under Saddam Hussein as after his fall many Chaldeans, like the adherents of other minorities, have left Iraq . The situation of the Christian population has become after the fall of Baghdad increasingly dangerous. Large numbers of the Christian population have been forced to leave their homes in Iraq and flee to safe areas.

The Chaldeans belong to the same ethnic group as the Assyrians and Aramaeans (Suryani), speaking in the various regions dialects of New Aramaic. Ancient Aramaic was the language of Jesus.