Chaldean Catholic Church

Chaldean Catholic Church
Chaldean Catholic Church
Patriairch emblem1.gif
Emblem of the Chaldean Patriarchate
Founder Traces ultimate origins to Thomas the Apostle, Addai and Mari; emerged from the Church of the East in 1830
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Primate Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Emmanuel III Delly.
Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq
Territory Iraq, Iran, Canada, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, USA, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France
Language Syriac,[1]Aramaic
Adherents 1,500,000[2]
Website [2]
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The Chaldean Catholic Church (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ; ʿītha kaldetha qāthuliqetha), is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church. The Chaldean Catholic Church presently comprises an estimated 1,500,000 Chaldean Christians who are ethnic Assyrians.[3]



The ancient history of the Chaldean Church is the history of the Church of the East. It was originally named The Church of the East. Before the 1553 consecration of Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa, the term Chaldeans had only been officially used previously by the Council of Florence in 1445 as a new name for a group of Greek Nestorians of Cyprus who entered in Full Communion with the Catholic Church.[4]

After the massacres of Tamerlane around 1400 had devastated several bishoprics, the Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as China, was reduced to a handful of survivors who lived in the triangular area[5]:55 between Amid (Diyarbakır), Salmas and Mosul. The See was moved to Alqosh, in the Mosul region and Patriarch Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437–1493) made the office of patriarch hereditary within his own family.[6]

1552: Yohannan Sulaqa

Dissent over the hereditary succession grew until in 1552, when a group of bishops, from the Northern regions of Amid and Salmas, elected Mar Yohannan Sulaqa as a rival Patriarch. To look for a bishop of metropolitan rank to consecrate him patriarch, Sulaqa traveled to the pope in Rome, entered into communion with the Catholic Church and in 1553 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the rank of patriarch taking the name of Mar Shimun VIII. He was granted the title of "Patriarch of Mosul and Athur (Assyria)", a title soon changed in "Patriarch of the Chaldeans".[7]

Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned in the Near East in the same year and fixed his seat in Amid. Before to be put to death by the partisan of the patriarch of Alqosh[5]:57, he ordained five metropolitan bishops thus beginning a new ecclesiastical hierarchy, the patriarchal line known as Shimun line. The area of influence of this patriarchate soon moved from Amid towards East, fixing the See, after many places, in the isolated village of Qochanis.

The connections with Rome loosened up under Sulaqa's successors: the last patriarch to be formally recognized by the Pope died in the 1600, the hereditary of the office was reintroduced and in 1692 the communion with Rome was formally broken.

1672: The Josephite line of Amid

A new start of the Chaldean Patriarchate happened in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, Archbishop of Amid, entered in communion with Rome, separating from the Patriarchal see of Alqosh. In 1681 the Holy See granted him the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its patriarch".

All Joseph I's successors took the name of Joseph. The life of this patriarchate was difficult: at the beginning due to the vexations from the traditionalists, under which they were subject from a legal point of view, and later it struggled with financial difficulties due to the tax burden imposed by the Turkish authorities.

Nevertheless its influence expanded from the original towns of Amid and Mardin towards the area of Mosul. The Josephite line merged in 1830 with the Alqosh patriarchate that in the meantime entered in full communion with Rome.

The Alqosh Patriarchate in Communion with Rome

The largest and oldest patriarchal see of the Church of the East was based at the Rabban Hormizd monastery of Alqosh. It spread from Aqrah up to Seert and Nisibis, covering in the South the rich plain of Mosul. Already in the short period between 1610 and 1617 it entered in communion with Rome, and in 1771 the patriarch Eliya Denkha signed a Catholic confession of faith, but no formal union resulted. When Eliya Denkha died, his succession was disputed by two cousins: Eliyya Isho-Yab, who got the recognization from Rome but soon broke the communion, and Yohannan Hormizd, who considered himself a Catholic.

In 1804 after Eliyya Isho-Yab death, Yohannan Hormizd remained the only patriarch of Alqosh. There were thus two patriarchates in Communion with Rome, the larger one in Alqosh and the Amid's one ruled by Augustine (Yousef V) Hindi. Rome chose not to choose between the two candidates, and granted to no one of them the title of Patriarch, even if from 1811 it was Augustine Hindi who in reality ruled the Church. After Hindi's death, on the July 5, 1830, Yohannan Hormizd was formally confirmed Patriarch by Pope Pius VIII with the title of Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans[8]:528, and the merger of the patriarchates of Alqosh and of Amid was completed.

On the other hand, the Shimun line of Patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained independent of the Chaldean Church. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its current see in Chicago, forms the continuation of that line.[9]

19th century: Expansion and Disaster

The following years of the Chaldean Church were marked by externally originating violence: in 1838 the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the town of Alqosh was attacked by the Kurds of Soran and hundreds of Christian Syrians died[10]:32 and in the 1843 the Kurds started to collect as much money as they could from Christian villages, killing those who refused: more than ten thousand Christians were killed and the icons of the Rabban Hormizd monastery defaced[5]:298.

In 1846 the Chaldean Church was recognized by the Ottoman Empire as a millet, a distinctive religious community within the Empire, thus obtaining its civic emancipation.[8] The most famous patriarch of the Chaldean Church in the 19th century was Joseph VI Audo who is remembered also for his clashes with Pope Pius IX mainly about his attempts to extend the Chaldean jurisdiction over the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. This time was anyway a period of expansion for the Chaldean Catholic Church.

In the early 20th century Russian Orthodox missionaries established two dioceses in North Assyria, and many people believed that the Russians could have protected them better than the English and the French[10]:36. Hoping in the support of Russians, the World War I was seen as the right time to rebel against the Ottoman Empire, which answered fighting the Assyrians as military enemies. On 4 November 1914 the Turkish Enver Pasha announced the Jihad, the holy war, against the Christians[11]:161. The defeat of Russia in 1917 called a halt to the hope of political freedom. All the North Assyria was overrun by the Turkish army and the people forced to flee: most who escaped the massacres died from winter cold or hunger. The disaster struck mainly the regions of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean dioceses in North Assyria (Amid, Siirt and Gazarta) were ruined (the Chaldeans metropolitans Addai Scher of Siirt and Philip Abraham of Gazarta were both killed in 1915).[10]:37

21st century: Eparchies around the world

A recent development in the Chaldean Catholic Church has been the creation in 2006 of the Eparchy of Oceania, with the title of 'St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans'.[12] This jurisdiction includes the Chaldean Catholic communities of Australia and New Zealand, and the first Bishop, named by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2006, is Archbishop Djibrail Kassab, until this date, Archbishop of Bassorah in Iraq.[13] There has been a large immigration to the United States particularly to Southeast Michigan.[14] Although the largest population resides in Southeast Michigan, there are populations in parts of California and Arizona as well. Canada in recent years has shown growing communities in both eastern provinces, such as Ontario, and in western Canada, such as Saskatchewan.

On Friday, June 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, erected a new Chaldean Catholic eparchy in Toronto, Canada and named Archbishop Mar Yohannan Zora, who has worked alongside four priests with Catholics in Toronto (the largest community of Chaldeans) for nearly 20 years and who was previously an ad personam Archbishop (he will retain this rank as head of the eparchy) and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese (Archeparchy) of Ahwaz, Iran (since 1974). The new eparchy, or diocese, will be known as the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai. There are 38,000 Chaldean Catholics in Canada. Archbishop Zora was born in Batnaia, Iraq, on March 15, 1939. He was ordained in 1962 and worked in various Iraqi parishes before being transferred to Iran in 1969. [15]

Persecution In Iraq

Chaldeans and other religious minorities in Iraq have endured extensive persecution since 2003, including the abductions and murders of their religious leaders, threats of violence or death if they do not abandon their homes and businesses, and the bombing or destruction of their churches and other places of worship. All this has occurred as anti-Christian emotions rise within Iraq. It reached its peak after the fall of Saddam and the rise of Shiite Muslims in the Iraqi government.[16]

Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, pastor of the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit, was killed on 3 June 2007 in Mosul, Iraq alongside the subdeacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed, after he celebrated mass.

Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho and three companions were abducted on 29 February 2008, Mosul, Iraq, and murdered a few days later.

Ecumenical relations

The Church's relations with the Assyrian Church of the East have improved in recent years. In 1994 Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East signed a Common Christological Declaration.[17] On the 20 July 2001, the Holy See issued a document, in agreement with the Assyrian Church of the East, named Guidelines for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which confirmed also the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.[18]


The Chaldean Catholic Church has the following dioceses:

  • Patriarchate of Babylon
  • Metropolitan Archdioceses of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Tehran, Urmya
  • Archdioceses of Ahwaz, Basra, Diyarbakir, Erbil, Mosul
  • Eparchies of Aleppe, Alquoch, Amadia, Akra, Beirut, Cairo, St Peter the Apostle of San Diego, St Thomas the Apostle of Detroit, Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto, St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney, Salmas, Sulaimaniya, Zaku
  • Territories dependent on the Patriarch: Jerusalem, Jordan


The current Patriarch is Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly, elected in 2003 on the death of Mar Raphael I Bidawid. In October 2007 Delly became the first Chaldean Catholic to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal within the Catholic Church.[19]

The present Chaldean episcopate (February 2011) is as follows:

  • Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon (since 2003);
  • Emil Shimoun Nona, archbishop of Mosul (since November 2009);
  • Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk (since October 2002);
  • Bashar Warda, archbishop of Arbil/Ankawa (since July 2010);
  • Ramzi Garmo, archbishop of Teheran (since February 1999);
  • Thomas Mayram, archbishop of Urmia and Salmas (since 1973);
  • Yohannan Zora, archbishop ad personam and bishop of Toronto (since June 2011);
  • Paul Karatash, archbishop of Diyarbakr (since 1977 - deceased in Istanbul, January 16, 2005) - presently vacant see);
  • Jibrail Kassab, archbishop of Sydney (since October 2006);
  • Yaʿqob Ishaq, bishop of the Curia of Babylon and titular archbishop of Nisibis (since December 2005);
  • Andraos Abouna, bishop of the Curia of Babylon and titular archbishop of Hirta (since January 2003);
  • Mikha Pola Maqdassi, bishop of Alqosh (since December 2001);
  • Antony Audo, bishop of Aleppo (since January 1992);
  • Joseph Sarraf, bishop of Cairo (since 1984);
  • Michael Kassarji, bishop of Lebanon (since 2001);
  • Rabban Al-Qas, bishop of ʿAmadiya (since December 2001) and apostolic administrator of Erbil;
  • Petros Hanna Issa al-Harboli, bishop of Zakho (since December 2001);
  • Ibrahim Ibrahim, bishop of the Eastern United States (since April 1982);
  • Sarhad Joseph Jammo, bishop of the Western United States (since July 2002); and
  • Shlemon Warduni, patriarchal auxiliary of Baghdad (since 2001).

The Chaldo-Assyrian Catholic Church in Iran is governed by the Chaldean Catholic Metropolitan Archdiocese of Tehran It has Archdioceses in Tehran, Urmih, and Ahwaz (Ahwaz is vacant), and a diocese of Sanandaj.


The Chaldean Catholic Church uses the East Syrian Rite.

A slight reform of the liturgy was effective since 6 January 2007. The aims are to uniform the many different uses of each parish, to clean up the things added in the centuries simply to imitate the Roman rite, and for pastoral reasons. The main elements of variations are: the Anaphora said aloud by the priest, the return to the ancient architecture of the churches, the restoration of the ancient use which is to prepare the bread and wine before the beginning of the service, the removal from the creed of the words Filioque.[20]

Notable Chaldean Catholics

The best-known figures include Iraqi former foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, as well as Anna Eshoo, who is a member of the United States House of Representatives.

see also List of Assyrians

See also

Portal icon Assyrians portal
Portal icon Syriac Christianity portal


  1. ^
  2. ^ CNEWA - Chaldean Catholic Church
  3. ^
  4. ^ Council of Florence, Bull of union with the Chaldeans and the Maronites of Cyprus Session 14, 7 August 1445 [1]
  5. ^ a b c Charles A. Frazee, Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923, Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 0521027004
  6. ^ Chaldean Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic), The new Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic University of America, Vol. 3, 2003 p. 366.
  7. ^ George V. Yana (Bebla), "Myth vs. Reality" JAA Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 2000 p. 80
  8. ^ a b O’Mahony, Anthony (2006). "Syriac Christianity in the modern Middle East". In Angold, Michael. Eastern Christianity. Cambridge History of Christianity. 5. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521811132. 
  9. ^ Heleen H.L. Murre. "The Patriarchs of the Church of the East from the Fifteenth to Eighteenth Centuries". Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. Retrieved 2009-02-04. 
  10. ^ a b c David Wilmshurst, The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, Peeters Publishers, 2000 ISBN 9042908769
  11. ^ Christoph, Baumer (2006). The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity. I B Tauris & Co. ISBN 9781845111151. 
  12. ^ "Eparchy of Saint Thomas the Apostle of Sydney (Chaldean)". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  13. ^ "Archbishop Djibrail Kassab". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  14. ^ "2004 statistics of the Chaldean Dioceses of Detroit". Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Iraq's Persecution of Christians Continues to Spiral out of Control". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  17. ^ "Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East". Vatican. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  18. ^ "Guidelines issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity". Vatican. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  19. ^ AP
  20. ^ "TQ & A on the Reformed Chaldean Mass". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 

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