Monday, November 05, 2007

Chaldean Catholic patriarch in the NYT.

Regular readers know that from time to time I post on media reports regarding the ancient (and endangered) Christian community in Iraq. This reflects my personal concern and affection for Middle Eastern Christians; as it happens, I do a lot more prayer, reading and reflecting on their situation than my occasional blog posts on Iraqi (and sometimes Lebanese or Palestinian) Christians may suggest. Anyhow, this evening I'd like to call your attention to an article in today's New York Times on Chaldean Catholic patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, who will be elevated to the College of Cardinals on the 24th of this month. The NYT article gets a few details wrong - for example, its author doesn't seem to realize that Delly remains merely a "cardinal-designate" until this month's consistory - but I'm of the view that any article that reminds the Western public that there are Christians in the Middle East is to be appreciated. Here's a sample:
There is neither a cross nor a sign on the heavy metal gate to indicate that this is the official residence of one of the country's most prominent Christians, the first in Iraq in modern times to be elevated to cardinal by the Roman Catholic Church.

The simple structure, in a dilapidated neighborhood of [Baghdad], opposite empty former ministry buildings, is the home of Cardinal [sic] Emmanuel III Delly, whom the pope named on Oct. 17 to the College of Cardinals along with 22 others from around the world.

The only outward sign that this compound is Christian is in the garden, where a lawn surrounded by roses and zinnias is watched over by a graceful white statue of the Virgin Mary.

Many of his fellow cardinals come from Latin America, Africa and the Far East, places where Catholic practice is only a few hundred years old. But Cardinal Delly, 81, the patriarch of the Baghdad-based Chaldean Church, comes from Mosul, in northern Iraq, a place where Christian rites have been practiced for nearly 2,000 years.

There, as in Baghdad and other places where members of Iraq's shrinking Christian population still lives, it is possible to attend a Sunday Mass sung in Aramaic, one of the Semitic languages spoken at the time of Jesus.

"Christians and Muslims have lived together for 1,400 years," Cardinal Delly said in an interview. "We have much in common; in Iraq, the Christian house is next to the Muslim house."

Cardinal Delly has a message honed from his many decades living in two worlds: that of Western Europe, where he studied, and that of the largely Muslim Middle East, which is his home.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


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