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Controversy over Coptic Priest and Muslims in Michigan Sparks Freedom of Speech Issues
By Amer Hedow :: 76841 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Michigan, USA - Refusing to submit, Egyptian Coptic Father Zakaria Botros tells listeners he will,” stop revealing the truth about Islam when my ten demands are met.”  The Coptic Priest is named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1” by the Arabic newspaper, al-Insan al-Jadid.  He has famously made of Islam “ten demands” whose radical nature he uses to highlight Islam’s own radical demands on non-Muslims.

The internationally renowned Coptic priest along with Muslim converts minces no words when addressing controversial topics of theological significance and touches on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition.  With rewards for his murder the priest fearlessly continues.  He has become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East and now in the United States. 

Tensions in Dearborn, Michigan rise as Fr. Botros continues to challenge Islamic teachings.  Dearborn’s Arab American newspaper reports that local Imams have been fuming over the Coptic priest’s ongoing revelations of Islam. Fearing anger will turn to violence; Deaborn’s Imams have called on Birach Broadcast owner demanding changes be made.  The Imams have also appealed to Chaldean and other Middle Eastern Christian leaders requesting interfaith efforts to create the change they seek. 

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Are Politicians Undermining Iraq Reconstruction Efforts?
By Sabah Hajjar :: 66065 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

 

Michigan, USA  –  Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D), chairman and of the Senate Armed Services Committee, requested a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regarding Iraq’s financial ability to fund their own reconstruction. 

The GAO made their report public yesterday prompting renewed calls from Democrats and few Republicans that Baghdad pay more of the bill for its own reconstruction.   The Iraqi government could end the year with a small budget surplus reveals the GAO report.   Iraq’s budget surplus has been building due to increased oil production, stability in the region, and the government’s unwillingness to spend money, the report continues. 

“Although America has broken it, they don’t want to buy it,” says Kevin Jammo.  “Democrats want to undermine the progress being made in the country.  They diminish the success of the surge and all the other progress taking place.  It is too soon to force Iraq to spend its meager money on a war waged against them.  This is an election year and these heartless politicians are playing games with a nation trying to stand-up.  As soon as Iraq starts to get their footing, Democrats want to foot-sweep them back to the ground.” 

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Only 27 out of 140 Chaldean Iraqis Receive Visas for WYD
By Rita Abro :: 119038 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Catholic News Agency reports that the Australian Embassy in Amman, Jordan has issued 27 visas which will allow some young Iraqis to participate in World Youth Day.  Initially 170 Chaldeans applied for Visas to participate in the largest gathering of world youth Christians in history.  True to their faith, the Chaldeans still expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the Australian government for allowing 27 delegates.

“I would like to thank the Australian government for everything they have been able to do and also the Australian embassy to the Holy See which has contributed to this positive ending,” Father Philip Najim, Chaldean Prosecutor to the Holy See, said.  “Many in Iraq were waiting for this.  It is a symbolic number of visas but our youngsters will be in Sydney too and that’s what counts.”

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Iraqi Christians Targeted In Order to Keep Them Oppressed
By Sabah Hajjar :: 64688 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ – Christian churches in Iraq continue to receive threatening notices foreshadowing potentially violent attacks against the non-Muslim religious centers.  In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul parishioners fear the worst after a letters were received asking them not to cooperate with US forces. 

“We don’t cooperate with anyone.  They use this as an excuse to attack, torture, hold for ransom, and kill innocent people,” says Khalid Bunni, a parishioner in the region.  

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Iraq's Persecution of Christians Continues to Spiral out of Control
By Sabah Hajjar :: 81588 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ - Senior research fellow, Brian J. Grim, paints a harrowing picture of the ongoing persecution of Iraqi Christians.  The research expert on religion and world affairs with the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C. reports that the situation for Christians in Iraq is worsening. 

“It is no small irony, of course, that the Shiite majority that's now a leading force in Iraq was brutalized and suppressed under Saddam, who extensively curbed the Shiites' religious freedoms. A State Department report in 2002 said Saddam's government ‘severely restricts or bans outright many Shiite religious practices.’ One might think that those fresh memories would be enough to ensure liberties for Iraq's religious minorities today. Yet that appears not to be the case,” writes Grim in his report. 

Iraqi Christians are part of historic indigenous communities that have been in what is now Iraq nearly since the time of Christ, several centuries before Islam came to the region. The majority of them are Chaldean Christians, an ancient religious group affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

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English Catholics to hold Mass to show solidarity with Iraqi Christians
By Guest Reporter :: 79480 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

London, UK - The Lord's Prayer will be read in Aramaic at a special Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at Westminster Cathedral next week in support of Iraqi Christians.

At a time when many of Iraq’s Christians have been forced to flee the volatile situation in their homeland, the Mass at 5:30pm on June 16 will offer an opportunity for bishops and worshippers to come together and stand in solidarity with the country’s Christian community.

In addition to the Lord’s Prayer being read in Aramaic – the language closest to Christ’s dialect – the Gospel will be sung in Arabic. The Mass will also allow people to pray for peace in Iraq and also for Iraqi communities here in England and Wales.

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The ‘Rizza Maraka’ Shortage Explained
By Neda Ayar :: 99300 Views :: Article Rating :: Business & Finance, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

California, USA – “No Riza Maraka!  Who do I blame,” says Anthony Matti of Chula Vista, California.  Amid growing concerns of global rice shortage two of America’s biggest retailers place a limit on rice purchases.  Wal-Mart's warehouse chain Sam's Club, the largest warehouse and food grocery retailer in the US is limiting bulk purchases of rice this week, citing "recent supply and demand trends".  Seattle-based Costco Wholesale Corporation has also imposed limits in some stores on bulk rice purchases.

“I bet the limits are in Michigan, Chicago, Arizona, and here,” says Matti with a sly smile.  “It is no coincidence Chaldeans live mostly in those regions.  Chaldeans are eating too much rizza maraka (rice and stew) and we are causing a rice shortage.  What do you expect?  Chaldeans are not going to eat that fast food poison or restaurant filth.”

Chuckling over his own sense of humor, Matti does have a serious side.  The undergraduate student just submitted his final exam paper titled the Economic Food Web.

Matti says that world rice prices have more than doubled in the past year as demand has outstripped supply.  “The culprits include the drought-ravaged rice crop shortage, alternative fuel technologies, global population growth, speculation on food prices, and rise in traditional fuel prices.” 

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Iraqi Christians Demonstrate Democracy in Week-Long March for Justice
By Amer Hedow :: 65923 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Ninevah, IRAQ - It would seem Iraqi Christians are able to embrace the democratic principles of petitioning government, free speech, and the right to assemble.  For most of the week, peaceful marches have been held by Iraqi Christians in hopes of drawing attention to the injustice and persecution Christians face.  The silent marches send reverberating waves throughout the country as other Iraqis look on in interest. 

Each day hundreds of Chaldeans and other Christians march down streets holding photos of Christian Martyrs.   Loud in action and small in talk the Iraqi Christians call for justice.  The council of Nineveh bishops, which include the community and religious leaders of all Christian communities in the Ninevah region of Iraq support the marches.

Men, women, and children march holding pictures of Archbishop Rahho to Fr Ragheed and Fr Paul Iskandar, all victims killed by radical Islamist hoping to drive Christians out of their land.  Marchers also carried hundreds of pictures of Christian family members who have been killed for their faith, resisting kidnapping attempts, refusal to convert, or because they owned shops that sold alcoholic beverages (banned by Islam).  The protestors walked through the streets of Bartella, Karamles, Qaraqosh, al Qosh.

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Germany May Accept 30,000 Christians Who Fled Iraq
By Huda Metti :: 67681 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Berlin, GERMANY - Germany is mulling calls for it to take in up to 30,000 Christians who have fled intimidation and violence in Iraq, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said Saturday, confirming an account in the news magazine Der Spiegel.

Iraq's Christians, who have lived in Mesopotamia since before the advent of Islam, have fled en masse to refugee camps in Jordan and Syria and say the reduction in fighting between Shiites and Sunnis has not benefited them, with killings of Christians continuing.

Interior Ministry experts in Berlin were studying suggestions from the Catholic and Lutheran churches that Germany declare a quota for resettlement by Iraqi Christian refugees, Der Spiegel said.

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Muslim Conversions Spike as Memorials for Iraqi Archbishop Are Held
By Sabah Hajjar :: 68313 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Saskatchewan, CANADA - Pope Benedict celebrated a special memorial Mass in the Vatican chapel in honor of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho. Pope Benedict has called Rahho's death an "inhuman act of violence" that offended human dignity.  In his homily Monday, the Pope called Archbishop Rahho a man of peace and dialogue who paid particular attention to the poor and handicapped in his flock.

"Let his example support all Iraqis of good will — Christians and Muslims — to work for a peaceful coexistence, founded on human brotherhood and reciprocal respect," Pope Benedict said.  Most every other country followed the Pope’s lead in condemning the torture and murder and calling on the Iraqi government to be more vigilant in protecting the rights of its citizens. 

For Chaldean tween, Joseph Markos' leap-year birthday was celebrated this year amid grief in his Iraqi-born family.  "I was kind of sad because it was the same day the archbishop was kidnapped," said the 12-year-old at a news conference in Saskatoon, concerning the death of the Iraqi archbishop.  For teenager Mohammed Abeed Kahoury and his parents the memorial of the Archbishop helped them make their decision to enroll in catechism classes to learn more about Christianity.  

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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.