ROME 28 Jan 2013 Bishops convene to elect Chaldean Catholic patriarch

Pope Benedict XVI has called a Synod of the bishops of the ancient Chaldean Catholic Church, centered in Iraq, for Jan 28 to elect successor to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon. The Patriarch resigned at 85 in December. The bishops will also plan the future for the war-ravaged Chaldean Church. Iraq’s largest Christian group, the Chaldeans have been severely depleted since the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Years of internal violence and a campaign of intimidation against Christians followed the invasion, shrinking the overall Christian population of some 800,000 before the war to some 100,000.

According to Vatican Radio, Christians in Iraq were the targets of an often violent persecution including bomb attacks, murders and abductions, during the war and subsequent insecurity. This led to a wave of emigration generating a large Iraqi Christian diaspora.

Patriarch Emmanuel III Dellywas elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Church on 3 Dec, 2003, succeeding the late Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid.

The Chaldean Church has other dioceses and eparchies in countries including Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Australia, Canada, the United States and Europe. It is estimated that the Chaldean population is over one and a half million worldwide. (WRITTEN DEC 2012)