WASHINGTON—A delegation of the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops (USCCB) led by Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman ofthe USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace, visited Iraq on March4 – 6.
BishopPates was joined by Bishop Yousif Habash, of the Eparchy of Our Lady ofDeliverance Syria Catholic Diocese in the United States and Canada, and representedthe U.S. bishops at the installation of Louis Raphael I Sako, the new patriarchof the Chaldean Catholic Church.
"With the ChaldeanChurch struggling to retain members in Iraq, Patriarch Sako's leadership isprovidential," Bishop Pates said. "He is a man of dialogue and friendship andwill work diligently to establish beneficial relationships with those of the Muslimtradition and other religions, as well as governmental and civic communities inIraq. It was a genuine honor to represent the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops at the Patriarch's installation."
Louis Raphael I Sako succeeds Cardinal Emmanuel IIIDelly, patriarch emeritus of Babylon for the Chaldeans. Bishop Pates noted theirgreat work and faithful service particularly during this difficult time for theChurch in Iraq.
"It is estimated that nearlyone-half or 350,000 individuals from the Chaldean Church have emigrated fromIraq since the invasion and occupation of the country by American militaryforces beginning in 2003. It is surely incumbent upon us as Americans to assistthe Chaldean Church in reversing this trend. Especially is this so because thisis a land that was the beneficiary of apostolic evangelization attributed toSt. Thomas the Apostle," Bishop Patessaid.
TheChaldean Church is an Oriental Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, and has about700,000 members. Chaldeans comprise about two-thirds of Iraqi Christians; manyhave fled to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to escape violence. Others have settled inIran, other Middle Eastern countries, Australia and the United States. The Ritehas two eparchs or dioceses in San Diego and Detroit.
"Iwas very cordially received by the Patriarch and the members of the ChaldeanChurch," Bishop Pates said. "The Iraqi government provided tight security forme and Bishop Habash, and demonstrated commitment to protect minority religionsand their practice of worship as evident by the presence of Prime MinisterNouri al-Maliki and the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Osamaal-Nujaifi, at the installation ceremony of the new Patriarch."
TheUSCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace has repeatedly urged theU.S. government to provide adequate humanitarian and development assistance toIraq, insuring that aid reaches all Iraqi citizens in need, especiallyChristians and vulnerable minorities.
Moreinformation on the Committee on International Justice and Peace can be foundonline: www.usccb.org/about/international-justice-and-peace/
Keywords: U.S. bishops, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, BishopRichard E. Pates, Committee on International Justice and Peace, ChaldeanChurch, Louis Raphael I Sako, Emmanuel III Delly, PatriarchEmeritus of Babylon for the Chaldeans, Baghdad, Iraq, peace, Middle East
# # # # #MEDIACONTACT ONLY:NormaMontenegro-FlynnO: 202-541-3202Email
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