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Chaldean Activism Once Again Proves Powerful
By Amer Hedow :: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 :: 99146 Views :: Article Rating :: 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."

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.