Beloved brothers, Bishops, Priests and Monks,
“Thank to you and the peace of God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ”.(Rm 1,7)
A call to the Chaldean Church go back to its origins
Our church is wounded, suffering and disperse for many reasons, among which: the worsening of the situation in Iraq after the fall of the regime in 2003; the loss of vision of present and future reality, the constant haemorrhage of immigration, the departure of many priests towards the West and the move of some of these to other churches; the absence of a central point and the ignoring of the ecclesiastical laws that regulate personal relationship and the organization of the structures. The inheritance is heavy and therefore I feel obliged to write to you as the father of the Chaldean Church, to share with you the preoccupations, the desires and responsibilities. I invite you to seriously reflect on our present situation, so that we may go back to our origins, re-establish our church and bring back the role that our lord Jesus gave her.
It I s a good chance to work together as a united team in the one Evangelic Spirit, to serve our people without distinction. Therefore, let us not disperse our energies, and let us not lose time in digression.
The Nationalistic campaign and the position of the Patriarchy.
It is a good thing to love one’s nation and be proud of it, but it is not good to consider one’s nation or one’s religion better and superior to all the others or, worse still insult and attack those who are not of the same nationality or religion.
In recent times something similar took place so much so there has been many questions on the position of the Patriarchy where nationalism and politics are concerned. Some have tried to confuse the identity of our Chaldean Catholic Church of which we are very proud, through the social network under the pretest of ‘free expression’. Sadly we must admit that a site connected to the church has been involved in this drift. These are single people who are rather blind and try to bend the church to their own objectives, but this will never happen. We are a religious institution, and clearly see with great responsibility the whole situation in its totality. These people will not in any way disturb our project, our method and our Christian principles of authenticity, of returning to our origins and of the pure source, renewal and communication.
However, unity is the biggest challenge because without it there is no future for us. I insist on unity and charge everybody with the responsibility to make it, beyond the obstinacies of the useless debates and divisions, specially as the common declarations among the various churches underline the reality of the one faith, in spite of diverse forms. Let us work together for the unity of Eastern Church, because every division is sin. On our pastoral visit to the diocese of Australia (2-16 May) we experienced meetings of sincere union with the Eastern Church, and these will remain impressed in our memories and hearts, and this experience has strongly encouraged us to go ahead with confidence and determination.
In the church there are no majorities nor minorities.
The strength of the church lies in her mission, and not in her property no matter how big this is, and neither in the number of her children. Much is said about majority and minority, about rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, about the obvious victory as if we were at war. This is shameful. If we go back to the Gospel we can see that the strength of the church lies in little things, such as salt, light, yeast and the small herd.Our survival in Iraq and in the area is a sign of hope, of prayer and participation in spite of the threat of death. How is it possible to allow a Catholic deacon to declare without proof that the Patriarch has renounced his identity? And that his election was just luck! Do I have to ring the bells every time and say that I am Chaldean? He and the others must know that in more than a century for the first time the election of the Patriarch was so quickly done (a day and a half) and with more than two thirds of the votes! […] We can accept, however, the positive and objective criticism, a sign of civilization that contributes to growth, development and prosperity.
The Chaldean Church is ecumenical and open to all.
The Chaldean Catholic Church had been and will continue to be open to all nations and languages because Christ invited it to make disciples among all peoples. Today, in this church, we find Assyrians, Arabs and Curds. Should they be ‘Chaldeanized’? and what about the Muslim Chaldeans? We of the Chaldean Catholic Church believe in unity and plurality and we are open to Christians and Muslims and others. We believe that friendship lies in the heart of divine light and Christian life must have this imprint. We, the clergy of all ranks, will not abandon our evangelical mission to become apostles of Nationalism and politics.
Nationalism and politics are the fields of work of lay people.
We believe that Nationalism and politics are the responsibility of competent lay people. We encourage them to build schools, to teach the different languages, to create cultural and social centres, to deal with artistic and cultural patrimonies, to create political parties to defend human rights. But we cannot become involved in these activities or do propaganda for them. This is a red line we cannot cross over. We must remain faithful to our priestly vocation at the service of all people without discrimination.
The church is mother and teacher.
The church is mother and teacher and there is no conflict between the teaching and depth of maternity. A mother introduces her child into the human community with love and patience and, in the church, with faith, trust and hope. The church is a mother full of goodness, tenderness and forgiveness. She teaches her children the values of truth, she guides and corrects them and spreads the light of the Gospel all through life, adorning it with the Spirit of love, of wisdom and challenge!
The code of the Eastern Catholic Churches clearly affirms the following:
‘The faithful, aware of their personal responsibility must accept what the Pastors of the church, Christ’s representatives, as teachers of the faith, declare or what they define. The faithful can inform the Pastors of the church of their needs, especially their spiritual needs and desires. Based on their knowledge, competence and position they have the right, and at times the duty, to inform the church Pastors on their view on things associated with the good of the church and to inform the faithful of their views, keeping in mind the integrity of the faith and the respect due to pastors and keeping in mind public interest and human dignity’. (Canon, 15, article 1,2,3).
as those called and consecrated our main role is to announce the Gospel and transmit faith, love and fraternity among all men, through the power of the Holy Spirit. At all sacred ordinations the letters of the Apostles and the Gospel are given to all those being ordinate. When a bishop is ordained the Gospel is placed on his shoulders to remind him of his duty to carry it faithfully to the end. Because of our vocation we cannot accept compromises or investments in other things. It is based on the image of Christ so that His beauty is reflected in us and around us. Therefore I invite all members of the Clergy to carefully read the Constitution Lumen gentium and the Decree Prespyterorum ordinis on the life of priests and their pastoral service, documents of Vatican Council II. They are asked to commit themselves to their vocation. I also invite monks to commit themselves to their monastic life and vows (chastity, poverty and obedience), that is the total offer of self, to a community life of prayer and meditation, of listening and freedom, to go where the church sends them. They must never forget that they were the first in the rebirth of the Chaldean church and in the spreading of her message.
It is time to understand that our Chaldean Catholic Church is called to transform reality faithfully in the light of the resurrection, of life and renewal. Her children, men and women, are called to actively participate in formulating a clear future project, and this not with words of criticism but with facts, proposals and with a non polemic scientific methodology to become and efficacious tool to change society.
For this we need to collaborate and support each other, and this is the aim of the next imminent Synod.
I think these observations are also ways to build our church and sustain with love and generosity avoiding the traps of individualism, egoism, and other divisions. I’ll conclude my invitation with the words of the Apostle Paul: ‘To end then, brothers, have a common mind and live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you’ (2 Cor 13,11).
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