Emmanuel III Delly, New Chaldean Patriarch, Gets Papal Nod

Leader's See Is in Baghdad

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The synod of the 22 bishops of the Chaldean Church meeting here elected a new patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly.



The new patriarch is replacing Raphael I Bidawid, who died July 7. In keeping with the law of Eastern Churches, the synod elects the patriarch.

The latter, in order to manifest communion with the universal Church, in turn asks the Pope to recognize his appointment. John Paul II granted the recognition, and on Wednesday received the new patriarch.

The new patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, whose see is in Baghdad, was born Emmanuel Karim in Iraq, in the town of Telkaif, on Oct. 6, 1927. Until now, he was archbishop of Kaskar of the Chaldeans.

He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Lateran University. He was a consultor of the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Eastern Canon Law and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Last March 22, he was slightly wounded by shattered glass from windows in the Chaldean Patriarchate in Baghdad, after U.S. forces bombed the area during the military campaign against Saddam Hussein.

In a letter to the Pope, in which the new patriarch requested "ecclesial communion," he also expressed the fidelity of the Chaldean Church to Rome.

"With the help of God, I will do what is possible for the unity of the Church in this tragic situation in which the Middle East finds itself and, in particular, Iraq," the patriarch wrote.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Holy Father received the members of the Synod of the Chaldean Church and said that "harmony is even more necessary when contemplating your land, which today is in greater need than ever of authentic peace and tranquility."

Chaldean Catholics constitute about 70% of the 800,000 Christians in Iraq. Baghdad has the largest Chaldean community, more than 350,000 faithful.

The official language in the Chaldean liturgy is Aramaic, the tongue spoken by Jesus. Its liturgy also uses Arabic. Chaldean communities also reside in America, Europe and Oceania.