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    » 04/09/2014, 00.00

    IRAQ - UNITED STATES

    Patriarch Sako: mourning and prayer for Card Delly who kept us united in dark times

    Joseph Mahmoud

    The patriarch emeritus dies at the age of 87 years, after leading the Chaldean Patriarchate in one of Iraq's most difficult periods. Mar Sako remembers how "he was able to encourage the community and remained faithful to its mission." A memorial Mass will be celebrated In Baghdad, whilst the funeral might take place in the United States.

    Baghdad (AsiaNews) - "For the Chaldean Church, this is a day of mourning and prayer so that the soul (of the patriarch emeritus) may rest in peace. However, it is also a day of remembrance to think about what he went through and suffered during these years," said Mar Raphael I Louis Sako as he paid tribute to Patriarch Emeritus Emmanuel III Delly, who passed away last night at a hospital in San Diego (United States) at the age of 87.

    Cardinal Delly, Patriarch Sako told AsiaNews, lived "more than 60 years as a priest, and 50 years as bishop and patriarch, always serving the Church in Iraq. Although the situation was very critical, he managed to stay true to his people and country".

    As the guide of the Chaldean Church, Mar Sako noted, the patriarch emeritus lived through what for the Chaldean Christian minority and the nation of Iraq was one of their most difficult historical and political periods. "Even if he could perform miracles, he was always able to encourage the faithful in a really bad situation. He really suffered a lot from the wars and the emigration" of Christians.

    For the current Patriarch, his greatest merit was to "remain faithful to the office of pastor and care for his people. Despite a very difficult situation, he remained in Iraq and never thought of escaping or shirking his responsibilities."

    In many cases, he acted in person "to pay the ransom for kidnapped priests" when abducting Christians, even and especially clergymen, became commonplace.

    We must learn from the life and trials of people like Patriarch Delly, who "managed to remain faithful to [the mission] even in very exceptional times".

    Mar Sako said that a requiem mass would be celebrated in the coming days at St Joseph Chaldean Cathedral in Baghdad, whilst the funeral will most likely take place in the United States, where most of the cardinal's family had moved.

    "For us Iraqi Christians," Patriarch Sako said, "we shall remember Cardinal Delly during the celebrations of the upcoming Holy Week leading to the Easter of Resurrection. This is crucial time to reflect and pray. We have to think, renew, and accept suffering, as Jesus did, to be saved."

    Patriarch Emeritus Emmanuel III Delly was born on 27 September 1927, in Telkaif, Archeparchy of Mosul of the Chaldeans, and was baptised on 6 October of the same year.

    He graduated in theology from the Pontifical Urbaniana University and in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University. He also obtained a licentiate in philosophy from Urbaniana.

    Ordained as a priest on 21 December 1952 by Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni Biondi in Rome, at the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, he returned to Baghdad as secretary to the Patriarch on 30 December 1960.

    He was elected to the titular see of Paleopolis of Asia on 7 December 1962 as the auxiliary to Patriarch Paul II Cheikho, receiving his Episcopal ordination on 19 April 1963.

    In that same year, as a bishop, he became a member of the Second Vatican Council, in which he had first participated as an expert.

    In October 2002, he resigned as auxiliary bishop because of age limits, but a little over a year later, a few days after the capture of Saddam Hussein, on 3 December 2003, he was elected patriarch of Babylon by the bishops of the Chaldean Church.

    His ministry was a time ruled by violence and terror, by the exodus of the Iraqi Christian minority, which lost half of its population following the US military intervention. This period brought death and destruction and left the country in serious trouble.

    With it came bloody attacks on churches in Baghdad and Mosul, the kidnapping of priests and bishops, and the targeted killings of many Catholics.

    On 19 December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation from the pastoral government of the Chaldean Church. His successor, Mar Raphael I Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, was elected on 30 January of the following year.

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    See also

    08/06/2006 IRAQ
    Patriarch Delly sees ray of hope in al-Zarqawi's demise and in appointment of last Iraqi ministers
    Six months since the elections the new prime minister appoints ministers to key defence and interior portfolios. Al-Qaeda confirms death of its chief operative in Iraq. Bush and Blair express satisfaction, but no one is under any illusion that terrorism is defeated.

    17/10/2007 IRAQ – VATICAN
    An honour for Patriarch Delly and the persecuted Church in Iraq
    First comments are expressed after the Patriarch of Baghdad is appointed cardinal. “It is a sign of the Pope’s paternal feelings towards the Iraqi people.”

    26/06/2007 IRAQ
    In Iraq Christians want to rebuild the nation together with their “Muslim brothers”
    P. Saad Hanna Sirop, one of the first Chaldean priests to have been abducted in Baghdad and ex director of the Babel College, reiterates that the persecution underway in Iraq is not exclusive to Christians, but also targets Shiites and Sunnis. The priest’s observations come in the wake of the Chaldean Churches unanimous rejection of the Nineveh Plains project. There is a need to avoid sectarian and divisive declarations, and to promote “universal action for the common good of the country, which is the patrimony of all humanity”.

    16/10/2006 IRAQ
    Patriarch Delly: World has forgotten Iraqi Christians

    In the aftermath of the murder of the priest Paulos Eskandar, the Chaldean patriarch denounced the indifference of the international community which, coupled with persecution, threatens to "empty" the Middle East of its Christian communities.



    10/01/2008 IRAQ
    Archbishop of Kirkuk says bombs will not kill hope or stop dialogue
    Following yesterday’s two attacks against the Chaldean cathedral and a Syro-Orthodox Church, Msgr. Sako speaks of a “political message aimed at Christians” and guarantees that “our commitment to building peaceful coexistence will not stop”. Appeal to the faithful of the world: we will not give in but we need your prayers.



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