Tuesday, April 13, 2021
St. Joseph News & Information
Latest News & Information

Current Articles | Archives | Search

Chaldean Activism Once Again Proves Powerful
By Amer Hedow :: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 :: 78614 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ – The outcry of Iraqi, American, and European Chaldeans for fair representation have given Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pause.  The Iraqi Prime Minister openly announced on Sunday that he has sought safeguards for Christians and other minorities who have complained that they have lost guaranteed seats in provincial councils under a new election law.

Chaldeans who took the time to voice their concern may have helped the future of Iraq’s minority population.  “We are grateful to the Chaldeans across the world that sent e-mails, called their representatives, and sent letters to Iraq’s Prime Minister,” says Raad Abdel.  “God will forever bless these wonderful Chaldeans who spoke out against such injustice.”

After Iraqi legislators scrapped a clause known as article 50, that would have guaranteed seats for Christians and other minority sects, online news sites and e-mails quickly covered the expressed outrage.  However, the bill in its current form must be approved by a presidency council consisting of President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents before it becomes law. Christian leaders have expressed hope that it can still be amended to guarantee their seats.  “With the help of our Chaldean brothers and sisters reaching out to representatives this may still be possible,” adds Abdel.

Maliki released in a statement that, " hoped parliament would approve the draft submitted by the cabinet, which included protection of the representation for minorities according to the constitution.”

Maliki sent a message to parliamentary leaders calling on them and the electoral commission "to find a solution and remove the feeling of worry, a feeling of being oppressed or alienated, which has affected real communities who are proud to be Iraqis."

Hashim al-Taie, head of the regions committee in parliament, said blocs had decided to remove the clause because there was no census to show how many seats should be guaranteed to which group, but that guarantees of seats could be added later.

Iraq's Christian communities, as well as smaller minority sects such as Yazidis in northern Iraq, have tried to stay out of the fray during years of sectarian fighting. But churches have been routinely attacked and minority citizens have often been kidnapped, tortured, and killed with little or no justice. 

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of Iraq's Chaldean Catholics, called for the presidency council to intervene.

"I call on the presidency council not to approve the cancellation of article 50 of the provincial law, which is an oppression against our presence and representation in Iraqi society," he said in a television interview on Saturday. “Parliament is denying our representation," he said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of other Christian denominations as well as the Chaldeans.

Many of Iraq's Christians live in the north, especially around the city of Mosul, in areas where power is often divided between Arab and Kurdish Muslims.

Christians staged demonstrations in towns near Mosul on Sunday calling for their guaranteed seats to be restored.

"Deleting paragraph 50 is unfair and it will pour oil on the fire," Menas al-Yousifi, the head of the Iraqi Christian Democratic party told reporters in Mosul. "It would deepen the crisis of the Iraqi people."

Shamoun Bazzu, a Christian priest from a town east of Mosul, said: "We demand the Iraqi government and the parliament deviate from the decision and hold with paragraph 50, because this is oppression against the minority elements in Iraq."

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.