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Germany May Accept 30,000 Christians Who Fled Iraq
By Huda Metti :: Saturday, March 29, 2008 :: 57092 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Berlin, GERMANY - Germany is mulling calls for it to take in up to 30,000 Christians who have fled intimidation and violence in Iraq, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said Saturday, confirming an account in the news magazine Der Spiegel.

Iraq's Christians, who have lived in Mesopotamia since before the advent of Islam, have fled en masse to refugee camps in Jordan and Syria and say the reduction in fighting between Shiites and Sunnis has not benefited them, with killings of Christians continuing.

Interior Ministry experts in Berlin were studying suggestions from the Catholic and Lutheran churches that Germany declare a quota for resettlement by Iraqi Christian refugees, Der Spiegel said.

It quoted German Foreign Ministry data suggesting an original Iraqi Christian population of 800,000 had halved by 2005 to 400,000.

German government human rights commissioner Guenter Nooke said, 'Intimidation, murder and abduction happen every day to Christians.'

The magazine said the churches had called for a quota of 20,000 to 30,000.

Currently there are only small numbers of Iraqi Christians in Germany, mostly people who have been caught while illegally trying to migrate along land routes to Sweden, where they have been welcomed.

Many of the Christians speak the Aramaic language.

Iraq's two main native Christian denominations are the independent Church of the East under patriarch Dinkha IV, and the Chaldean Catholic Church under patriarch Emmanuel III Delly which is linked to Catholicism.

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.