CWN - Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said that Americans must stem the tide of Catholic emigration from Iraq.
Accompanied by Syrian Catholic Bishop Yousif Habash, Bishop Pates represented the USCCB at the recent enthronement of Louis Raphaël I Sako as the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon.
“With the Chaldean Church struggling to retain members in Iraq, Patriarch Sako's leadership is providential,” said Bishop Pates. “He is a man of dialogue and friendship and will work diligently to establish beneficial relationships with those of the Muslim tradition and other religions, as well as governmental and civic communities in Iraq.”
“It is estimated that nearly one-half or 350,000 individuals from the Chaldean Church have emigrated from Iraq since the invasion and occupation of the country by American military forces beginning in 2003,” Bishop Pates continued. “It is surely incumbent upon us as Americans to assist the Chaldean Church in reversing this trend. Especially is this so because this is a land that was the beneficiary of apostolic evangelization attributed to St. Thomas the Apostle.”
“The Iraqi government provided tight security for me and Bishop Habash, and demonstrated commitment to protect minority religions and their practice of worship as evident by the presence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Osama al-Nujaifi, at the installation ceremony of the new Patriarch,” Bishop Pates added.