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Chaldean Catholic

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Chaldean Catholic

This article is about Chaldean church in the Middle East. For Assyrian Church of the East in India, see Chaldean Syrian Church.
Chaldean Catholic Church
Chaldean Patriarchate
Founder Traces ultimate origins to Thomas the Apostle, Addai and Mari; emerged from the Church of the East in 1830
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Primate Louis Raphaël I Sako
Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq
Territory Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, United States, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Georgia, New Zealand, Egypt
Language Syriac,[1] Aramaic
Adherents 500,000 [2][3]

The Chaldean Catholic Church (Template:Script/Mdnh; ʿītha kaldetha qāthuliqetha), is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church. The Chaldean Catholic Church presently comprises an estimated 500,000 who are ethnic Assyrian.


The ancient history of the Chaldean Church is the history of the Church of the East. It was originally named The Church of the East before the 1553 consecration of Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa.

After the massacres of Tamerlane around 1400 had devastated several bishoprics, the Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as China, was reduced to a handful of Mesopotamian Aramaic Language speaking ethnic neo-Aramaic Chaldean, Assyrian, and Syriac survivors who lived largely in the triangular area of Northern Mesopotamia between Amid (Diyarbakır), Salmas and Mosul.[4]:55 The episcopal see was moved to Alqosh, in the Mosul region, and Patriarch Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437–1493) made the office of patriarch hereditary within his own family.[5]

1552: Yohannan Sulaqa

Dissent over the hereditary succession grew until 1552, when a group of bishops, from the Northern regions of Amid and Salmas, elected Mar Yohannan Sulaqa as a rival Patriarch. To look for a bishop of metropolitan rank to consecrate him patriarch, Sulaqa traveled to the pope in Rome, entered into communion with the Catholic Church and in 1553 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the rank of patriarch taking the name of Mar Shimun VIII. He was granted the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans".[6]

Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to Northern Mesopotamia in the same year and fixed his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by the partisan of the patriarch of Alqosh[4]:57, he ordained five metropolitan bishops thus beginning a new ecclesiastical hierarchy, the patriarchal line known as Shimun line. The area of influence of this patriarchate soon moved from Amid towards East, fixing the See, after many places, in the isolated Assyrian village of Qochanis.

The connections with Rome loosened up under Sulaqa's successors: the last patriarch to be formally recognized by the Pope died in the 1600, the hereditary of the office was reintroduced and in 1692 the communion with Rome was formally broken.

1672: The Josephite line of Amid

A new start of the Chaldean Patriarchate happened in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, Archbishop of Amid, entered in communion with Rome, separating from the Patriarchal see of Alqosh. In 1681 the Holy See granted him the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its patriarch".

All Joseph I's successors took the name of Joseph. The life of this patriarchate was difficult: at the beginning due to the vexations from the traditionalists, under which they were subject from a legal point of view, and later it struggled with financial difficulties due to the tax burden imposed by the Turkish authorities.

Nevertheless its influence expanded from the original towns of Amid and Mardin towards the area of Mosul. The Josephite line merged in 1830 with the Alqosh patriarchate that in the meantime entered in full communion with Rome.

The Alqosh Patriarchate in communion with Rome

Main article: Yohannan Hormizd

The largest and oldest patriarchal see of the Church of the East was based at the Rabban Hormizd monastery of Alqosh. It spread from Aqrah up to Seert and Nisibis, covering in the South the rich plain of Mosul. Already in the short period between 1610 and 1617 it entered in communion with Rome, and in 1771 the patriarch Eliya Denkha signed a Catholic confession of faith, but no formal union resulted. When Eliya Denkha died, his succession was disputed by two cousins: Eliyya Isho-Yab, who was recognized by Rome but soon broke the communion, and Yohannan Hormizd, who considered himself a Catholic.

In 1804 after Eliyya Isho-Yab's death, Yohannan Hormizd remained the only patriarch of Alqosh. There were thus two patriarchates in Communion with Rome, the larger one in Alqosh, and in Amid that ruled by Augustine (Yousef V) Hindi. Rome chose not to choose between the two candidates, and granted neither the title of Patriarch, even if from 1811 it was Augustine Hindi who in reality ruled the Church. After Hindi's death, on the July 5, 1830, Yohannan Hormizd was formally confirmed Patriarch by Pope Pius VIII with the title of Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans[7]:528, and the merger of the patriarchates of Alqosh and Amid was completed.

On the other hand, the Shimun line of Patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained independent of the Chaldean Church. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its current see in Chicago, forms the continuation of that line.[8]

19th century: expansion and disaster

The following years of the Chaldean Church were marked by externally originating violence: in 1838 the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the town of Alqosh was attacked by the Kurds of Soran and hundreds of Christian Syrians died[9]:32 and in the 1843 the Kurds started to collect as much money as they could from Christian villages, killing those who refused: more than ten thousand Christians were killed and the icons of the Rabban Hormizd monastery defaced[4]:298.

In 1846 the Chaldean Church was recognized by the Ottoman Empire as a millet, a distinctive religious community within the Empire, thus obtaining its civic emancipation.[7] The most famous patriarch of the Chaldean Church in the 19th century was Joseph VI Audo who is remembered also for his clashes with Pope Pius IX mainly about his attempts to extend the Chaldean jurisdiction over the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. This time was anyway a period of expansion for the Chaldean Catholic Church.

In the early 20th century Russian Orthodox missionaries established two dioceses in North Assyria, and many people believed that the Russians could have protected them better than the English and the French[9]:36. Hoping in the support of Russians, the World War I was seen as the right time to rebel against the Ottoman Empire, which answered fighting the Assyrians as military enemies. On 4 November 1914 the Turkish Enver Pasha announced the Jihad, the holy war, against the Christians[10]:161. The defeat of Russia in 1917 called a halt to the hope of political freedom. All the North Assyria was overrun by the Turkish army and the people forced to flee: most who escaped the massacres died from winter cold or hunger. The disaster struck mainly the regions of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean dioceses in North Assyria (Amid, Siirt and Gazarta) were ruined (the Chaldeans metropolitans Addai Scher of Siirt and Philip Abraham of Gazarta were both killed in 1915).[9]:37

21st century: eparchies around the world

A recent development in the Chaldean Catholic Church has been the creation in 2006 of the Eparchy of Oceania, with the title of 'St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans'.[11] This jurisdiction includes the Chaldean Catholic communities of Australia and New Zealand, and the first Bishop, named by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2006, is Archbishop Djibrail Kassab, until this date, Archbishop of Bassorah in Iraq.[12] There has been a large immigration to the United States particularly to Southeast Michigan.[13] Although the largest population resides in Southeast Michigan, there are populations in parts of California and Arizona as well. Canada in recent years has shown growing communities in both eastern provinces, such as Ontario, and in western Canada, such as Saskatchewan.

In 2008, Mar Bawai Soro of the Assyrian Church of the East and 1,000 families were received into full communion with the Chaldean Catholic Church from the Assyrian Church of the East.[14]

On Friday, June 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, erected a new Chaldean Catholic eparchy in Toronto, Canada and named Archbishop Mar Yohannan Zora, who has worked alongside four priests with Catholics in Toronto (the largest community of Chaldeans) for nearly 20 years and who was previously an ad personam Archbishop (he will retain this rank as head of the eparchy) and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese (Archeparchy) of Ahwaz, Iran (since 1974). The new eparchy, or diocese, will be known as the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai. There are 38,000 Chaldean Catholics in Canada. Archbishop Zora was born in Batnaia, Iraq, on March 15, 1939. He was ordained in 1962 and worked in various Iraqi parishes before being transferred to Iran in 1969. [15] The 2006 Australian census counted a total of 4,498 Chaldean Catholics in that country.[16]

Persecution In Iraq

Chaldeans and other religious minorities in Iraq have endured extensive persecution since 2003, including the abductions and murders of their religious leaders, threats of violence or death if they do not abandon their homes and businesses, and the bombing or destruction of their churches and other places of worship. All this has occurred as anti-Christian emotions rise within Iraq. It reached its peak after the fall of Saddam and the rise of Shiite Muslims in the Iraqi government.[17]

Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, the pastor of the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul who graduated from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 2003 with a licentiate in ecumenical theology, was killed on 3 June 2007 in Mosul, Iraq alongside the subdeacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed, after he celebrated mass.

Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho and three companions were abducted on 29 February 2008, Mosul, Iraq, and murdered a few days later.

Ecumenical relations

The Church's relations with the Assyrian Church of the East have improved in recent years. In 1994 Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East signed a Common Christological Declaration.[18] On the 20 July 2001, the Holy See issued a document, in agreement with the Assyrian Church of the East, named Guidelines for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which confirmed also the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.[19]


The Chaldean Catholic Church has the following dioceses:


The current Patriarch is Louis Sako, elected in January 2013. In October 2007, his predecessor, Emmanuel III Delly became the first Chaldean Catholic to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal within the Catholic Church.[20]

The present Chaldean episcopate (February 2013) is as follows:

  • Louis Sako, patriarch of Babylon (since 2013);
  • Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch emeritus of Babylon
  • Emil Shimoun Nona, archbishop of Mosul (since November 2009);
  • Bashar Warda, archbishop of Arbil/Ankawa (since July 2010) and apostolic administrator of Zakho;
  • Ramzi Garmou, archbishop of Teheran (since February 1999);
  • Thomas Meram, archbishop of Urmia and Salmas (since 1973);
  • Yohannan Zora, archbishop ad personam and bishop of Toronto (since June 2011);
  • Jibrail Kassab, archbishop of Sydney (since October 2006);
  • Jacques Ishaq, bishop of the Curia of Babylon and titular archbishop of Nisibis (since December 2005);
  • Mikha Pola Maqdassi, bishop of Alqosh (since December 2001);
  • Antony Audo, bishop of Aleppo (since January 1992);
  • Michael Kassarji, bishop of Lebanon (since 2001);
  • Rabban Al-Qas, bishop of ʿAmadiya (since December 2001);
  • Ibrahim Ibrahim, bishop of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Detroit (since April 1982);
  • Sarhad Joseph Jammo, bishop of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego (since July 2002);
  • Shlemon Warduni, patriarchal auxiliary of Baghdad (since 2001).

The Chaldo-Assyrian Catholic Church in Iran is governed by the Chaldean Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tehran It has archdioceses in Tehran, Urmia, and Ahvaz (Ahvaz is vacant), and a diocese of Sanandaj.


The Chaldean Catholic Church uses the East Syrian Rite.

A slight reform of the liturgy was effective since 6 January 2007. The aims are to uniform the many different uses of each parish, to clean up the things added in the centuries simply to imitate the Roman rite, and for pastoral reasons. The main elements of variations are: the Anaphora said aloud by the priest, the return to the ancient architecture of the churches, the restoration of the ancient use which is to prepare the bread and wine before the beginning of the service, the removal from the creed of the words Filioque.[21]

Notable Chaldean Catholics

The best-known figures include Iraqi former foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, as well as Anna Eshoo, who is a member of the United States House of Representatives.

see also List of Assyrians

See also

Assyrians portal
Syriac Christianity portal


External links

  • Chaldean Catholic Church Mass Times
  • Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
  • Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Saint Peter
  • Catholic Churches (In German)
  • Catholic Encyclopedia)
  • History of the Chaldean Church
  • Qambel Maran- Syriac chants from South India- a review and liturgical music tradition of Syriac Christians revisited
  • St Pauls Chaldean Assyrian church
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