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Iraqi Bishop Tells Pope of Shock at Violence Against Christians
By Guest Reporter :: Thursday, November 27, 2008 :: 60836 Views :: Law & Order, Government & Society

Baghdad, IRAQ - The Christians of Iraq were shocked when Muslims started trying to drive the Christians of Mosul out of their homes in early October, an Iraqi bishop told Vatican Radio after meeting Pope Benedict XVI.

Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad met the Pope on November 26 at the end of the Pope's weekly general audience.

The Pope told the bishop: "Iraq is in our hearts. We constantly remember the Christians, praying for them and for peace in the country."

Bishop Warduni told Vatican Radio that between 700 and 800 of the 2,500 Christian families who had left Mosul in October had returned after the Iraqi government sent troops to the city to protect Christians.

"This whole thing made us very sad because we have lived together in peace for centuries," the bishop said. "During all the wars, our churches and our homes were open to Muslims and to all others."

Referring to the violence that claimed the lives of 13 Christians in October and led to the destruction of many homes, the bishop said, "It was a shock that Christians were attacked in such a diabolical way."

Bishop Warduni said the United States, Europe and the United Nations did not do enough to get the Iraqi government to act immediately when Muslim gangs began going through the city, using megaphones to tell Christians to leave Mosul.

Now that Iraqi troops are patrolling Mosul, he said: "Some are coming back, but many still do not have trust and are afraid they will be chased out again." 

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.