Iraqs Christians Meet Ask For Own

Iraq’s Christians Meet, ask for own Province

A conference of Chaldean and Assyrian Christians met in Baghdad Monday, and came to two principal decisions (al-Zaman). They decided to seek a province of their own in Ninevah, near Mosul (a district that also has many Kurdish villages alongside Christian ones). And they decided that Iraqi Christians should be known as Chaldeassyrians instead of as Chaldeans and Assyrians, so as to stress the unity of the Iraqi Christian community. Iraqi Christians are estimated at 3.5 percent of the population. Nestorian Christians in the Middle East who spoke Syriac or Aramaic or used them in their liturgy were called Assyrians. (Nestorians had tended to stress the humanity of Jesus and rejected the phrase “mother of God” for Mary because it compromised that humanity). A group of Assyrians in Cyprus and Iraq broke from Nestorian doctrine in the 1400s and became Uniates, one of a number of Eastern churches admitted into communion with Rome. They allowed to keep their own liturgy rather than adopting Latin (the Chaldeans use Aramaic, the language of Jesus). Pope Eugenius IV called this new Assyrian Uniate Catholic group the “Chaldeans.” The rest of the Nestorians in the region continued to be called Assyrians.. About 80% of Iraqi Christians are Chaldeans or Uniate Catholics. The conference is urging that they unite into a single group, which I presume means that the Chaldeans are willing to see the Nestorian Assyrians as coreligionists rather than as heretics.

Chaldeans complain that they were given no representation by the US on the Interim Governing Council (there is an Assyrian member).

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