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WikiLeaks: 2006-08-30: 06VATICAN181: Chaldean Iraqi Church Continues to Suffer Losses

by WikiLeaks. 06VATICAN181: August 30, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 06:20 PM UT


Viewing cable 06VATICAN181, CHALDEAN IRAQI CHURCH CONTINUES TO SUFFER LOSSES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06VATICAN181 2006-08-30 18:32 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO7595
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHROV #0181/01 2421832
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 301832Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0459
INFO RUCNISL/ISLAMIC CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0017
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0487
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000181 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE LARREA; NEA/I, DRL/IRF MATES 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  8/30/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KIRF PHUM IZ VT
SUBJECT: CHALDEAN IRAQI CHURCH CONTINUES TO SUFFER LOSSES 
 
REF: 05 VATICAN 000441 
 
VATICAN 00000181  001.3 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, CDA, AMEMB VATICAN, 
STATE. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
------- 
 
Summary 
 
------- 
 
 
 
1.  (S) Summary: Monsignor Philip Najim, Representative of the 
Chaldean Catholic Church to the Holy See and the Chaldeans' 
European representative, told PolOffs in an August 28 meeting 
that the Chaldean Church continues to lose many of its faithful 
due to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.  Regarding 
the recent kidnapping of Father Hanna of Baghdad, Najim stated 
that this was most likely the work of criminal elements in 
Baghdad, not an overt act targeting the Iraqi Christian 
community.  Nevertheless, he said, the psychological effect of 
the kidnapping on Christians in Iraq was substantial.  Najim 
also mentioned that the Chaldean Patriarch met regularly with 
the Grand Ayatollah Sistani - this might be an opportunity to 
develop an alternative communications avenue with Sistani if 
desired (see paragraph six). End Summary. 
 
 
 
--------------------------------- 
 
Chaldean Church "Starting to Die" 
 
--------------------------------- 
 
 
 
2.  (C) Monsignor Philip Najim, Representative of the Chaldean 
Catholic Church to the Holy See and the Vatican-appointed 
caretaker for Chaldeans in Europe, said the Chaldean Church in 
Iraq is "starting to die" and estimated that approximately fifty 
(50) thousand Church members had departed Iraq permanently for 
the U.S., Europe, Jordan and Syria since 2003. (Comment: Najim 
said that the press reports of higher numbers of Chaldeans 
leaving Iraq were overstated).  Najim continued themes we have 
heard from him and from his superior, Chaldean Patriarch 
Emmanuel III Delly, in the past.  Najim said the Chaldeans were 
fleeing Iraq primarily because of what he termed the general 
lawlessness in the country.  He said disorder and violence had 
become so pervasive that life in Iraq had become intolerable for 
its citizens, including Church members.  Najim also repeated 
other assertions we had heard previously, that evangelical 
Christian groups were complicating the inter-religious picture 
in Iraq by reckless conversion efforts.  Najim's main concern 
was targeted proselytism of Chaldeans, but he also described, as 
he had in the past, the way in which Western evangelicals had 
helped to create new discord between Muslims and Iraqi 
Christians where there had been little in the past. 
 
 
 
3.  (C) Unfortunately for the future of the Church in Iraq, 
lamented Najim, Chaldeans do not identify themselves as Iraqis 
and would not therefore be disposed to return to Iraq in the 
future when things improve.  Najim said Patriarch Delly was the 
first Patriarch to emphasize the historic ties of all Chaldeans 
to Iraq; he explained how Delly was imploring all Chaldeans to 
maintain those bonds and stay in their native land. 
 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
Ransom Demanded for Release of Father Saad Hanna 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
 
 
4.  (C) Najim said the kidnappers of Father Saad Hanna, the 
Chaldean priest taken in the Al Dora district of Baghdad on 15 
August, had demanded an unspecified cash ransom on 26 August for 
 
VATICAN 00000181  002.3 OF 002 
 
 
his release.  According to Najim, the kidnappers used Hanna's 
cell phone to contact the Patriarch with their demands which 
included the threat "to cut Hanna into little pieces and put him 
in front of your church should you contact the U.S."  Najim said 
there had been no further contact with the kidnappers since 
their 26 August cell phone call.  Najim speculated that the 
kidnapping may have been spurred on by a recent article in the 
Christian Science Monitor which provided details of the recent 
kidnapping and ransoming of Father Raad Washan in early August. 
 
 
 
5.  (C) Najim said Patriarch Delly had met with both Prime 
Minister Maliki and President Talabani of Iraq along with the 
heads of the various Muslim communities in an effort to seek 
their support and assistance in obtaining Hanna's release. 
Najim told us in confidence that he was disappointed that 
Ambassador Yelda, Iraq's Ambassador to the Holy See, had not 
even called him to express his concern or to offer any 
assistance.  According to Najim, Yelda had done little for the 
Chaldean community. 
 
 
 
---------------------------------- 
 
An Ayatollah Sistani Interlocutor? 
 
---------------------------------- 
 
 
 
6.  (S) In describing Patriarch Delly's efforts to win Hanna's 
release, Najim informed us that Delly met regularly with the 
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to discuss matters of mutual concern 
between the two communities.  He did not provide any further 
details of their relationship, but gave us the impression that 
Delly has reasonable access to Sistani on inter-religious 
matters. (Comment: Embassy Vatican could approach Najim to 
determine whether Patriarch Delly would be willing to discuss 
certain matters of interest to the United States if Department 
desires.) 
 
 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
Najim's Name Republished on Shia Hit List 
 
----------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
7.  (C) Najim mentioned offhandedly that his name had once again 
been published in the Iraqi Shia newspaper Al-Hawza and then on 
its Internet site for alleged collaboration with the former 
regime.  As described in reftel, Najim denies the accusation and 
seemed mostly nonplused about the threat to his person.  He 
mentioned that he would not be returning to Iraq in any case as 
the patriarch had ordered him to stay away in part because of 
this threat. 
 
 
 
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Comment 
 
------- 
 
 
 
8.  (C) Najim's concern for the Chaldean community - and for all 
Christians in Iraq - has been a constant refrain from him and 
Patriarch Delly in the many conversations we have had with them. 
 Najim's emphasis here, however, was less on current or 
potential religious discrimination or anti-Christian violence 
than on what he described as a chaotic security situation that 
put all Iraqis at risk. 
SANDROLINI

 



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