Chaldean bishops in the northern Iraq – Press Release

We the Chaldean bishops of the dioceses of Kirkuk, Erbil, Alqosh, Zakho, and Amadiyah met with their priests in the town of Ain Sifni, on Monday, the second day of July 2007, and after discussion the ongoing developments on ecclesiastic and national situation, and explaining the reasons for their non-participation in the Synod held in the monastery of Our Lady near Alqosh on June 1rst – 6th, we issue the following statement :


On the ongoing developments in the church and Iraqi present situation, we believe it is the duty of the church to emerge from its existing unhealthy situation, to allow the Spirit to come out and can do real reforms in its structure and mission. With a clear vision; and without embarrassment or hiding behind the authority or liturgy or heritage, the renewal and updating should be done continuously. The future of our church and its force and unity depend on it. Our dioceses are small and rely on improvisation, personal narrow considerations in choosing unworthy persons to important posts that weaken its unity, witness, pastoral activities and its institutions. The reform and renewal in a clear and objective evangelical line and purpose that help out unity and cooperation, and make us the best source of hope and joy, not only for Christians, but for all Iraqis.

The situation of the Iraqi people and the Christian these days must be the subject of a permanent conversion for us.

Priority of ecclesiastical work

In several communal and individual letters we prayed his Beatitude the Patriarch to deal with the priorities presented to him, by us courageously and find suitable solutions.

Here are the following themes:

1- To study the current situation of Christians in Iraq and take a bold position in regard to what is happening in the country and take an official position and speech.

2-To examine the status of displaced persons at home and abroad, and to appoint priests for them instead of assigning them abroad, and assist them morally and materially.

3- To organize the Patriarchal curia as requested by church’s laws (oriental canon low no: 114-125) and the records, funds and multilateral committees and press office,

4- For the Seminary and Babel College: to find a proper place and direction to enable students to pursue their call of priesthood and choose a spiritual director. The seminary team should be a model for the seminarians to achieve their priesthood. To develop and progress the Babel College, (faculty of theology) for which the students of all churches have their theological formation.

5- The candidates of the new bishops. The person should have a high spirituality, a good reputation, bold culture and openness, and a good experience of the administration as provided by church’s laws (180 laws) and the “pastores dabo vobis” of the late Pope john Paul II, and not for other considerations, as has happened in the last Synod as we heard.

6- The life of priests: To take care of their spiritual, cultural and pastoral updating formation, and to assure a decent form of living with dignity.

7- Ecclesiastical tribunal had been unable to meet for months for security reasons and the absence of its members; therefore we asked the formation of a tribunal in the northern area, many cases are awaiting a decision.

This, as well as other topics: the religious education programs, liturgical reform, and the importance of the Christian presence in Iraq and substantive developments in the region and migration are pending.

Those were the reasons of our boycotting the Synod held in Alqosh which we asked the Patriarch to postpone in order giving time to study topics above thoroughly. But he insisted on convening it soon. The decisions were disappointing as we read in two statements published on the Internet: two of us have been appointed to the permanent synod without asking our consent, and the minor seminary will be transferred to the diocese of Alqosh without the consent of the bishop!

We Pray the Holy See to suspend this Synod for the benefit of our church and to convoke a new synod in Rome under the auspices of the Holy Father, in which we all participate and discuss all the topics openly. For this preparation, specialists from the clergy and lay people can help. The current national and ecclesiastic situation deserves such a meeting.

An appeal to the Iraqis in general and Christians in particular,

On this occasion, we launch a sincere appeal to our Iraqi brothers and citizens, not to surrender to the bitter reality and turn on each other, rely on the language of reason and dialogue as the only way to solve problems, leaving outside, and adhere to the common human, national and religious values. In this light we choose a new method to think and to coexist in a spirit of responsibility and brotherhood free of fear and prejudice. We have to extend our hands for a serious national reconciliation and to live by the forgiveness and building of bridges and trust and the consolidation of co-existence in order to preserve the homeland in its mosaic of multiple and diverse historical, religious, national, and cultural heritage.

To our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering much in this chaotic situation, we ask that you keep pushing forward your historic leading role of the dialogue and a culture of peace and the civilization of love. We hope amid the narrow patience and wisdom, with prayer and collaborating with those of good will to improve the current situation “till the storms of destruction pass by” (Psalm 57:2). Therefore, we refuse any “safe haven” on the Nineveh plain or elsewhere for Christians, because the whole Iraq is our Homeland and we should live together with our fellow citizens in peace and harmony.

We your bishops and priests of the northern region assure you of our support and solidarity: our churches and centers are open to receive you; we will not spare any effort to help you. In the same time, we ask everyone receiving displaced families from the troubled spots and to help them, and not to charge them high rents as most of them are jobless. Christian ethics require this assistance as St Paul says: ” but that is a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want” (2 Cor 8:14).

Appeal to the religious congregations and charity’s organizations

We also launch an appeal to congregations for men and women in the Catholic Church to come to our dioceses (in which stability is good) to take care of the cultural, educational and spiritual needs of residents and refugees in the new the region because of the security conditions, to open schools, polytechnic institute, nursing school, etc.

We also call upon the church charity organizations, to help these villages refuge, to develop through the opening of small agricultural development projects, economic and health services, and small factories. This kind of help will provide job opportunities for residents keep in hope and not to immigrate.

Petros Harboli, bishop of Zakho

Rabban Al Qas, bishop Amadyia and administrator of Erbil

Mikhael Maqdassi, bishop of Alqosh

Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk

André Sana, Emeritus of Kirkuk