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Chaldean Catholic Bishop Asks the West, Are We Making Good Use of Our Freedom?
By Guest Reporter :: Sunday, April 22, 2012 :: 99357 Views :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches
(Page 2 of 2)

choice in truth, and since God expects of man a free response to his call, the right to religious freedom should be viewed as innate to the fundamental dignity of every human person, in keeping with the innate openness of the human heart to God. In fact, authentic freedom of religion will permit the human person to attain fulfillment and will thus contribute to the common good of society."

"Aware of the developments in culture and society, the Second Vatican Council proposed a renewed anthropological foundation to religious freedom. The Council Fathers stated that all people are "impelled by nature and also bound by our moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth"

Only months into his pontificate the Pope told the Roman Curia: "The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time."

"The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State. The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience."

"A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all. At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples."

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, when he addressed the Bishops of Region IV in the United States (Baltimore, Washington and the archdiocese for the Military Services) who had gathered for their ad limina visit, he warned them of a "radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres".

He told these successors of the Apostles entrusted with the Church in the United States, that the "seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms - the freedom of religion."

There is a trend emerging in the rhetoric of the current US Administration. It involves the use of the term "freedom of worship" rather than the constituional phrase, the "Free Exercise of Religion". Some say any concern over this verbal change is overblown, a matter of semantics. I passionately disagree. "Freedom of Worship" will, in effect, keep us in our church buildings.

Our worship leads us into a world which God stll loves so much that He sends his only Son - through His Body, the Church - of which we are members.The concern is real. We must act upon it before we lose more of our fundamental right to religious freedom and are impeded from our mission.

Catholics believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic.   

The Edict issued by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Health and Human Services, which requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans is an example of the danger we face if we do not oppose the effort to narrow the definition of religious freedom.

This Iranian Chaldean Catholic Bishop has asked Western Christians the proper question: Are we making Good Use of Our Freedom? The West is mission territory now - and we are the missionaries.

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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.