The patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic church, Emmanuel III Delly, listens during a funeral service in Baghdad on November 2, 2010. Bishops from the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church met in Rome for security reasons on Monday for a synod to elect a new patriarch to lead what is one of the world's oldest Christian churches. Photo: AFP/AFP/File
Iraq-based church leaders in Rome to elect patriarch by AFP – Monday, January 28, 2013.
Bishops from the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church met in Rome for security reasons on Monday for a synod to elect a new patriarch to lead what is one of the world's oldest Christian churches.
The synod of around 15 bishops is being held after former patriarch Emmanuel III Delly resigned after reaching the age limit for his post of 85 years.
It was being held as a security precaution in Rome instead of Baghdad where the patriarchate is based.
The church recognises the authority of the pope and the Vatican but retains its own hierarchy.
Its official language is Aramaic -- the language that would have been spoken by Jesus Christ -- and it traces its origins back to the Apostle Thomas.
Bishops came from Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul but also from Europe and North America where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christian exiles have moved in the decade since the 2003 US-led invasion.
The duration of the synod is not predetermined.
Among those in attendance was Monsignor Antoine Audo, bishop of the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo and head of the Catholic charity Caritas-Syria.
Christians were singled out for discrimination following the US-led invasion and were identified as supposed allies of Western "crusaders". Clergymen were killed and abudcted while several churches were bombed.
The Chaldean Church had 550,000 followers in Iraq before 2003 and 150,000 in the diaspora. It now has around 150,000 followers in Iraq and 550,000 abroad.
It faces the challenge of engaging with Iraqi society despite ongoing violence and Islamist threats and the burning question of whether to stay in the country or join the massive recent exodus.
"We need a leader who can help us see the future and who can bring people together," Louis Sako, the bishop of Kirkuk, told Vatican Radio.
The Chaldean Church recognised Rome's authority in 1551 but a union only became definitive in 1830.
The synod is being presided by Argentinian cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.