12/05/2003, 00.00
Iraq - Vatican
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Newly elected Patriarch of Baghdad seeks support from entire Christian world

Vatican City (AsiaNews) His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly, the newly elected Patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldeans, celebrated mass at St. Peter's Basilica together with members of the synod of Chaldean bishops and other Chaldean faithful residing in Rome. Cardinal Ignatius Moussa I Daoud, prefect for the Congregation of Eastern Churches, was delegated by John Paul II as the mass's main celebrant.

The mass was celebrated according to the Syrian rite and said in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. In his homily, the Chaldean patriarch reminded those present that exactly fifty years ago this December he was ordained a priest in the very same basilica.    

Cardinal Moussa I, while speaking in Arabic, underscored the responsibility incumbent upon the newly elected patriarch in "a country as ancient as Iraq in the midst of a huge crisis" and awaiting a "spiritual and physical reconstruction." The cardinal exhorted the new patriarch to strengthen ever more the synod's role so that all bishops can "work together". He also emphasized the important part that the Chaldean Church plays for all Iraq Christians and all of Iraqi society.

Patriarch Emmanuel III promised  "not to do anything alone without first consulting my fellow Chaldean bishops." He even admitted not knowing the "difficulties" that await him, but he has "accepted this noble and difficult responsibility while entrusting himself to Jesus Christ, the Lord of Grace". 

After the ceremony Patriarch Emmanuel III told AsiaNews that "Christians in Iraq, even if they have many material needs, need prayer above all things, so that peace may return and chaos come to an end –not only in Iraq but in the entire Middle East."

Speaking of the dangers threatening Iraqi Christians, he said: "There is no difference between Christians and non-Christians. All Iraqis want stability in our country. Once we attain peace and stability, there won't be any problems. Christians and Muslims have lived together for 1500 years in love and fellowship."

When commenting on the value of the election, Cardinal Moussa I told AsiaNews: "The Chaldean patriarch is head of the largest community in Iraq, and thus he represents all (Iraqi) Christians. He is the voice of Christians in government and could have a most important role in promoting dialog and discussion with other religious communities." (PB)
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