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WikiLeaks: 2010-02-02: 10VATICAN18:
Vatican Official On Iraq and Planned Meetings of Middle East Bishops

by WikiLeaks. 10VATICAN18: February 02, 2010.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 10:21 AM UT


Viewing cable 10VATICAN18, VATICAN OFFICIAL ON IRAQ AND PLANNED MEETING OF MIDDLE EAST

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
10VATICAN18 2010-02-02 16:46 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO4406
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHFL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHSL
RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0018 0331646
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021646Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1249
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 1288
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000018 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  2/2/2030 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF KIRF IZ VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN OFFICIAL ON IRAQ AND PLANNED MEETING OF MIDDLE EAST BISHOPS 
 
REF: A. LORENZ-NOYES JANUARY 28 EMAIL 
     B. 09 BAGHDAD 3298 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Rafael P. Foley, Pol Chief. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 

1.  (C) Summary: The Vatican's Secretariat of State point person 
for the Middle East, Monsignor Alberto Ortega, said the bishops 
of Iraq had urged the Vatican to convene a special Middle East 
"synod" (meeting of bishops) this Fall.  Although violence is 
down, the Vatican is concerned about the future of Iraqi 
Christians.  Ortega said insecurity drove many Christians to 
emigrate and lamented there was not greater unity among Iraqi 
bishops to address the community's problems.  Ortega was not 
previously aware but welcomed news of Vienna's Cardinal 
Schonborn's visit to Washington (ref. A). End summary. 
 
2.  (C) Polchief and poloff met with Monsignor Ortega on 
February 1 to discuss developments in the Middle East and the 
October 10-24, 2010 synod of bishops for the region.  Ortega 
noted that the working outline for the synod was released on 
January 19 (see 
http://vatican.state.gov/archives/holy_land_r esidents_get_c 
hance.html 
 ).  Ortega said the outline -- prepared by a committee of 
bishops from the region -- contains strong language on foreign 
occupation and Islamic fundamentalism.  Nevertheless, he 
believes these references will be toned down in the actual 
working document.  The Pope will present the working document 
formally to Middle East bishops during his visit to Cyprus in 
June 2010. 
 
3.  (C) Ortega appreciated USG initiatives for religious 
minorities in Iraq (ref. B), but expressed concern about the 
security of Christians there despite the overall reduction in 
violence.  As an example, Ortega mentioned the killing of a 
Christian shopkeeper in Mosul on January 11.  Ortega said the 
GOI needs to be more responsive to the security needs of the 
Christian community, for example by deploying policemen to guard 
threatened churches.  Otherwise, Iraqi Christians will continue 
to emigrate.  At the same time, Ortega lamented the rivalries 
and disagreements within the Chaldean church.  He said the 
Vatican has had to occasionally step in to urge these bishops to 
work together for the benefit of their communities.  The theme 
chosen for the synod of bishops, "The Catholic Church in the 
Middle East:  Communion and Witness" underlines the importance 
of unity in fostering the continued presence of Christians in 
the region.  This presence, Ortega said, is essential for 
interfaith tolerance and goodwill. 
 
4.  (C) Ortega was not aware that the Archbishop of Vienna, 
Cardinal Schornborn, was pursuing meetings with Department 
officials regarding Iraq.  The Archbishop's ex-officio role as 
nominal leader of the Chaldean community in Austria may have led 
to the requests, as Schornborn has probably heard about the 
problems of Iraqi Christians from refugees in Austria. (Note: 
Displaced Chaldeans may follow their own eastern rites outside 
the Middle East, but fall under the jurisdiction of the 
Latin-rite hierarchy of their host country, generally the 
Archbishop of its largest city.)   Ortega welcomed news of 
Schornborn's meetings in Washington. 
 
5.  (C) Comment:  The percentage of Christians in the Middle 
East is very small and dropping.  For the Vatican, however, 
their importance goes well beyond their numbers: officials here 
see the Middle East as a litmus test for interfaith coexistence 
among diverse, autochthonous communities.  The Vatican 
recognizes the limits to proselytization in Muslim majority 
countries, but has not lost hope that the mere presence 
("testimony") of Christians will continue to offer others the 
possibility to learn about Christianity.  End comment. 
 
DIAZ


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