High-ranking Chaldean cleric from Iraq visits Metro Detroit

Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News
SOUTHFIELD — On a three-week tour of the United States, Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly, the patriarch of Babylon, is meeting today with members of the largest Chaldean community outside of Iraq, here in Metro Detroit.
Delly, 81, is the highest ranking Eastern Catholic cleric in Iraq, and the titular leader of the oldest community of Christians in the world. He has remained in Iraq amid persecution of the Christian minorities, while other church leaders fled with hundreds of thousands of refugees.
He was injured by shattered glass in an attack in Iraq, shortly after his elevation to cardinal, in 2007.
“Being the spiritual superior of the community, it’s important to ask him questions, especially because his chair is in Iraq,” said Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America, in Farmington Hills. “He is the only one who has not yet moved his chair from Iraq. He is very resilient and says he would rather stay with his people than to remove himself.”
Chaldeans — who are Catholics of the Eastern, as opposed to Latin Rite — have settled in Metro Detroit in large numbers in recent decades. About 13,000 Iraqi refugees have been resettled in the United States since 2006, about 3,000 in Michigan.
Christian clerics have been murdered in Iraq, amid the continuing civil strife and social discord under the American-led occupation and attempts by Muslim extremists to root them out of their homes. Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country during the five years and nine months of war. Some have settled temporarily in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, and the United States and in Europe. International migration officials say that an increasing number has turned up in Lebanon, another country in the Middle East with a significant Christian population.
In addition to seeking routine medical attention in his annual visits to the United States, and visiting Chaldean communities in California and Arizona, according to Chaldean leaders, Cardinal Delly celebrated Mass Sunday St. George’s Chaldean Catholic Church in Shelby Township.
“His concern is for all Christians in Iraq, but especially the Chaldeans,” said Nabby Yono, vice-president for community relations of the Arab Chaldean Council, in Lathrup Village. “His concern is for the future of Christianity, in total, not just the Chaldeans, in Iraq.”
You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or gkrupa@detnews.com.