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Chaldean Bishop Says Education in Democracy Key to Enduring Peace in Iraq
By Rita Abro :: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 :: 50905 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Washington DC, USA - While Iraq’s most dreadful year of 2006 is still comparably safer than some of America’s most popular cities the Democratic leaders in congress still wish to surrender the conflict.   Petraeus demonstrated a significant drop in violence since 2006 and still the Democratic leaders remained unconvinced of the need to stay in Iraq. 

Mgr Rabban al-Qas, Chaldean bishop of Ahmadiya, in Northern Iraq, speaking a day after the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, began presenting his report to the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees of the US Congress on the impact of the recent surge of US troops in Iraq says progress has been made, but “A concrete solution to the Iraqi crisis must come from the people themselves, not from the barrel of the gun.”

Iraqi Chaldean bishop acknowledges the dramatic drop in violence and adds it is time to educate the population to peace.  “An enduring solution though must come from Iraqis themselves, from educating the people to the values of peace and democracy learnt since 2003,” says Mgr Rabban al-Qas.

General Petraeus said that most objectives had been met by the troop reinforcement. Progress has been reported in the area of security, and sectarian violence has dropped.

The General made clear that the current situation remains unstable, preventing an immediate troop withdrawal.  The general did say though that around 30,000 troops could be drawn down from the current level of 168,000 by the middle of next year.  The General also added that the  request by Iraqi leaders to remain in order to assist the fledgling democracy. 

The Iraqi government welcomed General Petraeus’s report. Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie praised the “enormous sacrifice” made by the United States, predicting a reduced combat role for US troops, adding however that his government opposed any quick pullout.

In Baghdad many residents have noticed a drop in the level of violence, but “not enough to go out without fear.”  From talks with his contacts in the capital, Bishop al-Qas said that suicide attacks have declined in the last few months. In his view, the war has “entered a second phase.”

“Now that some results have been achieved against terrorism, albeit small ones, after Washington changed its attitude towards Iraq, it is also time for Iraqis to change attitudes. We must educated the young to peace and instil the democratic values that have started circulating in the country in the last four years,” he said.

“Now we must open the doors to reconciliation whilst ensuring security.”

General Petraeus and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are continuing today the presentation of their report to Congress.

St. Joseph, MI USA

St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church
2442 E. Big Beaver Rd.
Troy, MI 48083
Tel: (248) 528-3676
Fax: (248) 524-1957

Congregation Organizer:
Rev. Michael J. Bazzi

Church Constructing Pastor:
Rev. Sarhad Y. Jammo

Current Pastor:
Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Ayad Hanna

 Current Pastor: Msgr. Zouhair Toma

Msgr. Zouhair Toma (Kejbou) was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1947.  He was ordained a priest in Baghdad, Iraq in 1968, and accepted his first assignment to serve the community of Baquba.  The Monsignor’s leadership skills and organizational talents along with his mastery of theology were immediately evident.  He later assisted Sts. Peter and Paul in Al-Salehia, and St. George in New Baghdad.

In August, 1978 Monsignor Toma was called to serve the growing community of persecuted Chaldeans finding refuge in Australia.   Being the fist Chaldean priest to arrive in Australia he quickly established a parish for the Chaldeans in Sydney to serve their social and spiritual needs.  The parish was named after St. Thomas the Apostle and built a rectory. 

In 1989, for his incredible work he was granted the title of Monsignor, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar for Australia and New Zealand.  Continuing his passionate work to serve the Chaldean community the Monsignor moved the Parish Center to a more accessible location and built a large church campus featuring a modern community center, residence quarters, and administrative offices in 1995. 

In 2003, Monsignor Toma added a magnificent church to replace the previous one in order to serve the fast growing community and also opened two other centers.  The first was Our Lady Guardian of Plants in Melbourne, and the second was Mar Addai the Apostle in Auckland, New Zealand.  Mar Addai in New Zealand included two very large churches along with rectories and community centers.  Overseeing the Patriarchal Vicariate for 28 years, he managed to inspire six more priests to help minister to the fast growing Chaldean community. 

In August 2006, Monsignor chose to assist the St. Thomas the Apostle Diocese in the U.S. as more Catholic churches were being built in America and address the growing need.  On October 2006, Monsignor was incardinated and appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Troy.