Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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USCIRF - Chaldeans and Other Mideast Native Christians Face Extinction
By Guest Reporter :: 5412 Views :: Article Rating :: World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Leonard Leo’s video interview with Terry Jeffrey at CNSNews.com that despite the long-term U.S. military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, Christianity may well be wiped out in the region because, as CNSNews put it, of "severe and persistent persecution of Christians there" by Muslims.

During the interview Jeffrey asked “We are looking at two different countries where the United States invaded, occupied, changed their governments in the last decade — Iraq and Afghanistan — where it’s possible Christianity might be eradicated in our lifetime?”

Leo responded, “Yes, and, unfortunately, that is sort of the pattern throughout the Middle Eastern region. The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year. It’s a very, very alarming situation.”

The situation for Chaldeans and other Christians throughout the Mideast is worsening.  In its annual report, USCIRF observed:

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Turkish Chaldeans Welcome Back Armenian Faithful
By Amer Hedow :: 15545 Views :: Article Rating :: World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Turkey, Gavur – Hidden from many is a small town in Turkey of peaceful survivors of Gavur.  Defying all odds these humble groups of villagers have survived the holocaust of WWI and continue to rebuild their lives under ongoing persecution and threat. 

The town’s name alone makes the point.  Gavur is an offensive ethnic slur used by Muslims in Turkey and the Balkans to describe infidels, with particular reference to Christians like Chaldeans, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Serbs and Assyrians. The term is considered highly offensive and meant to say somebody is inferior, an immoral creature, less than human. 

In Turkish history gavur is so deeply rooted in society as an insult. The Ottoman leaders in the First World War were motivating their soldiers by convincing them they were fighting a war against infidels.

Between 1919 and 1923, large number of Christians that lived in Anatolia and surrounding regions were made as scapegoats and targeted for annihilation. 

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Massacre of Martyrs
By Amer Hedow :: 19022 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ – The massacre of Iraqi Christians by Muslim fanatics sent cold shivers of shock across the Western world.  “The heinous killing of women and infants shows what Islam is turning into,” says Fathel Barto, a Chaldean ambulance driver in Iraq through a translator.  “They have become the poison of a snake killing helpless and defenseless women and babies for no reason.  These people do not fight and they do not harm anyone.  These ignorant and barbaric men have sinned against Islam.  Any true believer of Mohammed would be just as mad and openly condemn them and who they are.”

Barto’s assumptions seem to have fallen on deaf ears as Muslim leaders and politicos remain silent and apathetic to what has come to be known as the Massacre of Martyrs.  The attack on the congregation of Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church was the bloodiest single attack on an Iraqi Christian church in recent history. The latest toll now reached nearly a hundred dead and 78 tragically wounded.  Many of the dead and dreadfully wounded were women, toddlers, and small babies attending Sunday services. 

American Chaldeans who have been calling on Washington DC have been turned away with sympathetic nods and comments of condolence.  “They are snakes with forked tongues these politicians.  All they do is talk and write letters showing they share our concern, but do nothing of substantial,” says David Kuza of Rochester, Michigan.  “I voted for Gary Peters and Carl Levin.  People in our community said these politicians can help us.  Instead all they do is write hallmark letters.  If they are serious about helping us let them take a stand by not voting or blocking any new legislation unless serious action is taken to protect Iraqi citizens.”

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Killing of Chaldeans Continue Despite Promises of Added Security
By Amer Hedow :: 22637 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Justice League

Chaldeans grip the cross bars as the roller coaster of their existence takes another steep and deadly plummet.

Baghdad, IRAQ – Yet another targeted religious execution of Iraqi Christians takes place in northern Iraq.   An armed commando storms the neighborhood of al Saa, near the monastery of the Domincan fathers on a killing rampage killing 55 year old Chaldean businessman, Sabah Yacoub Gurgis.  The well known entrepreneur owned an eyeglass factory, employing many Arabs and minorities in the city near the Tigris River. 

Neighboring Christians are terrified that the killings will continue.   The shooting is just the latest in a long trail of blood that has forced hundreds of Chaldean families to flee the city toward the plain of Nineveh or abroad. A spiral of violence that grew in the months preceding the parliamentary elections of  March 7, so much so that Msgr. Emil Shimoun Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, spoke of an "Endless Via Crucis".

Iraqi Christians continue to escape the country as killings and religious persecutions intensify.  “The election and Easter season has given the crazy killers motivation to wipe out all the Christians in Iraq,” says Husam Ashaki, who barely managed to survive the rampage killing in the city.  “We are all trying to figure out how we can leave.  We are not even safe in north.  They follow us here and are very thirsty for Christian blood.  No mater if it is a man, woman, or child.  They kill even small children and babies if they know they are Christian.”

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Iraqi Minority Remain Targets Despite Government Claims of Safety
By Sam Yousif :: 23507 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Justice League

Baghdad, IRAQ – Iraqi Christians march in Mosul and Baghdad and hold prayer vigils in Kirkuk to draw attention to unending murders of minorities in Iraq.   In recent weeks alone, minority men, women, and children have been abducted, killed, raped, harrased, and tortured.  Those surviving have returned with ominous messages that Christians are no longer allowed to be in Iraq. 

Mgr Emil Shimoun Nona of Mosul confirmed that hundreds of families have left Mosul in the last few days, about 600 in a community of some 4,000 people, according to a United Nations report.  The prelate said, “about 400 families have escaped.”

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa of Mosul led over 1,000 Iraqi Catholics in a silent protest on February 28 to demand that the government act to put a stop to violence against Christians there.

The United Nations estimated that 683 Christians fled Mosul between February 20 and February 27. Chaldean Catholic Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona of Mosul estimated that "about 400 families" had left the city's community of 4,000 Christians.

“The daily massacre suffered by the Christian community … is met with indifference from the authorities,” said Archbishop Casmoussa on the eve of the march. “We will be fasting and praying for peace and for the survival of Christians.”

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Iraq’s Holy Innocents
By Guest Reporter :: 19912 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, Opinion and Editorials, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Iraq, Baghdad – National Review Online’s author, John F. Cullinan, calls into light the sorrowful predicament Chaldeans and other Iraqi Christian minorities have been forced to face.  In his compelling article Cullinan highlights how Chaldeans continue to remain a casualty of American foreign policy - both by and under the leadership of then President Bush and equally now by current American President Obama. 

Cullinan writes about how this small faithful group of Iraqi pacifist has greatly contributed to the tapestry of Iraq’s once great success in tolerance, understanding, and diplomacy is facing near extinction. 

The American-led war in Iraq has savaged the native Iraqis.  A group known for centuries as a root of hope for Iraq is being squashed with little or no sympathy or concern by America. 

Iraq’s Holy Innocents  by John F. Cullinan

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Iraqi Police Unable or Unwilling to Stop Christian Attacks
By Amer Hedow :: 22092 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Baghdad, IRAQ — Iraqi Chaldeans site that the Najaf local government are playing politics with their lives and livelihood.  “They are telling the people of Najaf that we are not worthy to live in the city, just to win votes,” says Dawood Abdel, a well known Chaldean political commentator in Iraq. 

Local Iraqi authorities have outlawed alcohol in the province of Najaf, home to the holiest Shiite city, saying it contradicts the principles of Islam.  The decision to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol highlights efforts by religious parties to win support with Shiite voters before crucial parliamentary elections this January are causing an alarming spike in attacks against Iraqi Christians.

Alcohol consumption is forbidden under Islam, and liquor stores have often been targeted by both Sunni and Shiite extremists in Iraq.  The stores are widely owned and operated by Iraqi Christians, and the move by the Najaf provincial council is seen as credible proof of the fears among the Christian minority and secular Muslims that religious extremism is growing in the country.

The Najaf provincial council's decision followed a similar measure taken in August by authorities in the southern port city of Basra.  Shortly after the measure in Basra, Christians were targeted and forced to leave the city. 

Khalid al-Jashaami, a Najaf provincial council member says, "In order to protect the holiness of the holy city of Najaf, the provincial council of Najaf decided unanimously to ban the selling and transit of all kinds of alcohol." Al-Jashaami adds that violators will face trial. 

The continual intimidation of Christians grow as Muslim extremist move into government roles, changing laws and justifying the seizure of Christian property.  “They do this slowly and try to hide what they are doing.  They attack any printing house that writes about the laws being written.  They have burned the warehouses and kidnapped the family members.  The police do nothing, but say we are investigating,” says Abdel.

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An AlQosh Man Struggles to Keep a Promise to an Old Friend
By Amer Hedow :: 29128 Views :: Article Rating :: Community & Culture, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Justice League

AlQosh, IRAQ – Abandoned since 1948 by native Iraqi Jews remains the tomb of the Jewish Prophet Nahum, a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible.  Nahum wrote about the Assyrian Empire and the plains of Ninevah and prophesized the fall of Assyrian Kingdom for failing to turn from their pagan ways. 

Nahum was written after the fall of Israel in 722 BC but before the fall of Ninevah in 612. It is very likely, based upon the description of the relationship between Assyria and Judah, that Nahum prophesied in the early reign of King Josiah. Assyria was in the last days of its great power. They still controlled most of the Middle East. However, Babylon, Persia, and Egypt were all expanding in strength.

Literary enthusiasts would appreciate the irony that the tomb has been gently cared for and preserved by native Iraqi Christians.  After Iraqi Jews were forced to leave their country over half a century ago due to their religious difference with the prevailing Muslims of the region, Sami Jajouhana was asked to be the keeper of Nahum's tomb. He was handed the iron keys and an old leather ledger by his Jewish friend who left al-Qosh in 1948.  Jajouhana promised his dear friend to care for the sacred site for Jews.   

Beneath one of the few remaining standing synagogues in all of Iraq, Nahum's tomb is at risk.  For over half a century, few Jewish pilgrims have journeyed to the site.  Nonetheless, Jajouhana keeps his promise to his old friend, by recording the few who do tour the tomb or visit the synagogue and to care for their holy place.   Jajouhana has handled the landscaping, cleaned the vandalism that often plaques the monument, and managed repairs the best he can with the minuscule resources his family has in honor of his friendship and his friend’s convictions. 

The building is crumbling and in need of major repairs.  Most of the roof’s supporting beams and some stone walls have deteriorated. The Hebrew scripture is unmistakably visible on the interior walls—square, precisely carved, unobtrusive and definitively Hebrew.  All at risk to be forever lost except for this one man on a mission to rebuild. 

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Twin Chaldean Bishops Dedicated Church Spur Twin Mass Celebrations
By Frank Dado :: 31163 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Thiruvananthapuram, INDIA – The impact of Chaldeans on the world are numerous and diverse.  Following the lead of St. Thomas, Chaldeans travelled the world sharing the miraculous conversion of the human of the psyche and soul. 

Evidence of their impact is being praised in a small church, whose history dates back to 826 AD.  The church originally named after Sapor and Prot, twin Chaldean bishops traveling from Syria, who helped Christians establish themselves on the Kerala coast of India in the ninth Century. 

What is unique about this small Catholic parish is that it is dedicated to the twin brothers and has been attracting scores of twins, including Hindus, for its annual feast.  St. Thomas, a twin himself, helped share the blessings of Christianity throughout the Middle East and Asia, while his brethren St. Peter journeyed to Rome. 

This year's June 19 feast day Mass at the Church in Kerala, southern India, was no different. It was attended by 151 twins and two sets of triplets. The parish church is in Kothanallur village and comes under the Palai diocese.

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Australian Priest Begins Campaign to Help Chaldeans
By Amer Hedow :: 30771 Views :: Article Rating :: Religion & Spirituality, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA – In the capital city of Australia, Brisbane priest Fr. Gerry Hefferan has begun a campaign to help the struggling Chaldeans of war-torn Iraq.  Fr. Hefferan recently returned from Kurdistan and has organized a daily prayer roster with parishes from five major dioceses to pray for Chaldeans.  The effort has been welcomed by Australian Catholics as parishioners have already filled the roster until November 2009. 

The prayer roster is not the only effort Fr. Hefferan is undertaken on behalf of Chaldeans.  The Grovely-based priest is also encouraging Catholics to share expertise in education and health with staff at St Peter’s Chaldean Seminary in Iraq which has been relocated from Baghdad to Erbil in the Kurdistan north.

“This is because education and health are two major areas where the Muslim communities recognize Christian expertise,” Fr Hefferan said. “So this is one way to help bring peace to the area – it can help the Christians live more harmoniously with their Muslim neighbors.”

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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.