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WikiLeaks: 2009-10-01: 09VATICAN101: Patriarch Delly and Tehran Archbishop Comment on Christians in Iraq and Iran

by WikiLeaks. 09VATICAN101: October 01, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:34 AM UT


Viewing cable 09VATICAN101, PATRIARCH DELLY AND TEHRAN ARCHBISHOP COMMENT ON CHRISTIANS

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09VATICAN101 2009-10-01 12:11 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO8979
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHFL RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHNP RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0101/01 2741211
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011211Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1166
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0090
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0075
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 1204
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000101 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  10/1/2034 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PREF KIRF IZ IR VT
SUBJECT: PATRIARCH DELLY AND TEHRAN ARCHBISHOP COMMENT ON CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND IRAN 
 
VATICAN 00000101  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Rafael Foley, Polchief. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
1.  (C) Summary:  The Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, 
Cardinal Emmanuel Delly, and the Archbishop of Tehran, Ramzi 
Garmo, briefed polchief on September 25 about problems their 
communities face in Iraq and Iran.  Delly said that there is no 
organized persecution of Christians in Iraq, however they are 
targeted by extremists.  He opined, however, that there is no 
freedom of religion in the country-and requested USG support for 
economic development for villages in the Ninewa plains, which 
are mostly Christian.  Delly said the Iraqi government cannot 
provide security and for this reason he is ambivalent about the 
departure of the U.S. military.  Archbishop Garmo reported 
Christians in Iran are not allowed to build new churches and 
that they suffer employment discrimination.  End summary 
 
2.  (U) Cardinal Delly was in Rome for an audience the Pope 
granted to heads of the Middle East region's seven Catholic 
Rites (Maronite, Armenian, Syriac, Melkite, Chaldean, Latin and 
Coptic) on September 19.  Delly also participated in a 
preparatory session for a Special Synod of Bishops for the 
Middle East to be held in the Vatican October 10 to 24, 2010. 
Garmo was in Rome for the preparatory meeting. 
 

No freedom of religion 
 
---------------------- 
 
3.  (C) In a meeting with Embassy Vatican polchief on September 
25, Delly and Garmo distinguished between "freedom of religion" 
and "freedom of religious practice."  Delly said that there is 
no religious freedom in Iraq, because conversions to 
Christianity are impossible.  He also complained that Iraqi 
inheritance laws favor Muslims.  For example, under current law 
a single man within a Christian family who converts to Islam 
inherits the entire estate of his parents.  Garmo said 
inheritance laws in Iran are the same.  Furthermore, Iranian 
Christians are not allowed to build new Churches and face 
discrimination when looking for employment.  Garmo added that he 
had to pay the Iranian government $800K to keep a building used 
as a home for the elderly, which had been donated by the wife of 
the Shah decades ago.  The GOI repudiated the donation and 
demanded compensation to the State.  Delly and Garmo reported 
Christians can go to mass and pray (i.e., "religious practice"), 
but that religious freedoms in Iraq and Iran end there.  (Bio 
note: Although he is the Archbishop of Teheran, Garmo is Iraqi. 
End note). 
 
 
Violence and persecution 
 
------------------------ 
 
4.  (C) Delly believes that while Al-Qaeda and extremists 
sometimes target Christians, these attacks do not amount to 
organized persecution.  Like Christians, many Muslims suffer 
from terrorist violence.  Delly stated that criminals and 
unscrupulous individuals further target Christians, however, to 
force them to flee and then squat in their homes.  Religion is 
the pretext but the real motive is material gain. 
 
5.  (C) Delly believes that the U.S. should not have intervened 
militarily in Iraq.  Now, however, he says it is better for 
Iraqis --and for minorities in particular-- that the American 
troops stay.  Delly doubts the Iraqi Government's ablity to 
provide for the security of its citizens.  (Delly added that he 
can not say this publicly because he would be accused of siding 
with the Americans.) 
 
6.  (C) To curb the exodus of Iraqi Christians, Delly requested 
that the USG support the economic development of villages in the 
Ninewa plains that are mostly Christian.  He estimated there are 
about 25K people in these villages, and 20k are Christian. 
Delly reported he had visited these poor villages and nothing 
has been done to support their development or create jobs. 
 
VATICAN 00000101  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
Comment 
 
------- 
 
7.  (C) The Pope's decision to convoke a Special Synod of 
Bishops for the Middle East in 2010 reflects his concern for the 
future of Christianity in the region where it originated.  The 
visit of Patriarch Delly and the other heads of Eastern Catholic 
Rites help the Vatican to learn from the firsthand experience of 
those on the frontlines of interreligious coexistence.  Other 
than to call for respect of religious freedom internationally, 
which it does constantly, the Vatican by itself can not do much 
for Christians in the Middle East.  But it can shine a light on 
the issues.  The Special Synod should help to attract 
international attention to the concrete problems religious 
minorities face in the Muslim-majority countries of the region. 
 
8.  (C) The Vatican welcomes leaders like Delly, who put in 
perspective the problems of Christians in the Middle East. 
Delly underscores that Christians are an intrinsic part of the 
cultural landscape of the region, and that most of the problems 
they face are the same as those faced by non-Christians: bad 
governance, lack of jobs, violence, etc.  He publicly refuses to 
focus solely on the problems of Iraqi Christians, preferring to 
speak about the problems of all Iraqis, including Christians. 
At the same time, he quietly advocates for specific measures -- 
such as creating jobs in the villages of Ninewa - that can halt 
or slow the exodus of Christians from the region.  Delly also 
does not hesitate to point out discriminatory practices against 
religious minorities.  End comment. 
DIAZ

 



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