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More Iraqi Christians Killed by Religious Fundamentalists
By Amer Hedow :: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 :: 76481 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ - The Chaldean community in Iraq remain vulnerable victims of kidnap, torture, and murder by  Islamic fundamentalists twisted by hatred.  News of the torturous death of a 65-year-old doctor, Tariq Qattan, kidnapped recently by a terrorist group is being released by AsiaNews.   “The family paid a $20,000 ransom, but it was not enough to free Tariq,” say sources. 

Tariq Qattan is one of the many Iraqi Christians kidnapped by fundamentalists for extortion.  For the family of Nafi Haddad the outcome is just as unbearable.  Haddad was also kidnapped and killed.

Despite assurances by the Iraqi government Christians remain vulnerable targets.  “Iraqi police continue to ignore investigating or prosecuting those involved,” says relatives of the Haddad family close to the matter.  

Chaldeans have all but fled out of Mosul or Iraq due to the dangers Christians specifically face.  More than 75% of the Christians have abandoned their property and sought refuge.  Within the past few months the funerals of Faris Gorgis Khoder, his driver, and Ramy and Samir, two of Bishop Rahho’s bodyguards occurred in Karamles, a Christian village near Mosul.

The Chaldean community has endured a series of attacks on Christian property. A wave of bombings struck the Chaldean church of the Immaculate Virgin, the Chaldean Church of St Paul, which was almost destroyed, the entrance to the orphanage run by the Chaldean sisters in al Nour, a Nestorian church, and the convent of the Dominican sisters in Mosul Jadida.

The continued killings of Christians in Iraq have left many moderate Muslims to question the sincerity and authentic leadership of Imams.  Beginning the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, many moderate Muslims still remain mute in condemning the attacks and the Muslim leaders of the region.  “They claim to be a religion of peace.  Only killing in the name of their religion is what is happening,” says Hadeer Heso.  

Pope Benedict XVI says that he is "embittered by this execrable new act, which profoundly affects the whole Church in the country, and in particular the Chaldean Church".  He also expresses his "closeness" to the patriarch, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly and to "that entire, sorely tried Christian community, and also to the family members of the victims".  The pope, finally, invited the universal Church "to unite with its fervent prayer the intention that the Iraqi people may find the path of reconciliation and peace".

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.