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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Iraq: bishops risk lives to elect new patriarch
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¬†Bishops are risking their lives to elect a new Patriarch of Baghdad in a desperate bid to rebuild the country's war-shattered Christian communities. Bishops from 20 or more dioceses from all over the world are braving the chaos in Baghdad for the synod to elect the Patriarch - the leader of the Chaldean Church, the largest Christian denomination in Iraq. The synod, which started on 19 August was called after the death of Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid who died on July 7, aged 81. News of the synod came from the Apostolic Nuncio to Baghdad, Monsignor Fernando Filoni, who gave statements to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic charity which supports persecuted and deprived Christians around the world. The information given by the nuncio comes amid mounting evidence of declining relations between Christians and Muslims in Iraq as Shiite fundamentalism intensifies. Most Christian priests are afraid to leave their homes. Power cuts are common and most of Baghdad - already suffering in an extremely hot summer - has endured further water shortages inflicted by a terrorist bomb. ACN is responding to the crisis with a £50,000 aid package for the worst-affected Christians in a programme co-ordinated by Archbishop Filoni. The money is desperately needed to buy food and medicines. Against a backdrop of murder and looting, the new Patriarch of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, will face the tough challenge of bringing new hope to a Church with 480,000 members in Iraq. The Chaldean Church is an Eastern-rite Catholic Church which resumed full communion with Rome in the 16th century. The Church's liturgical language is Chaldean, a form of Aramaic, which was spoken by Jesus Christ. Source: Aid to the Church in Need
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