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The Chaldean Catholic Church ( ,Chaldean Neo-Aramaic ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ ( ) is an Eastern 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 2.5 million Chaldean Christians.


The ancient history of the Chaldean Church is the history the Church of the East. Before the 1553 consecration of Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa, the term Chaldeans has been previously officially used by the Council of Florence in 1445 as a new name for a group of Nestorian of Cyprusmarker who entered in Full Communion with the Catholic Church.

After the massacres of Tamerlane around 1400 had devastated several bishoprics, the Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as Chinamarker, was reduced to a handful of survivors who lived in the triangular area between Amidmarker, Salmasmarker and Mosulmarker. The See was moved to Alqoshmarker, in the Mosul region and Patriarch Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437-1493) made the office of patriarch hereditary within his own family.

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".

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 , 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 Qochanismarker.

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. The patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its See in Chicagomarker, forms the continuation of this line.

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 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 Mardinmarker 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 Hormizdmarker monastery of Alqosh. It spread from Aqrahmarker up to Seertmarker and Nisibismarker, covering in the South the rich plain of Mosulmarker. 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 was thus two patriarchates in Communion with Rome, the larger one in Alqosh and the Amid's one ruled by Augustine 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 , and the merge of the patriarchates of Alqosh and of Amid was completed.

Expansion and disaster

The following years of the Chaldean Church were marked by externally originating violence: in 1838 the monastery of Rabban Hormizdmarker and the town of Alqosh was attacked by the Kurds of Soran and hundreds of Christian Syrians died 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 .

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. 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 the Russian Orthodox missionaries established two dioceses in North Assyria, and many people believe that Russians could protect them better than the English and the French . 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 . 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, Siirtmarker and Gazartamarker) were ruined (the Chaldeans metropolitans Addai Scher of Siirt and Philip Abraham of Gazarta were both killed in 1915).

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

Recent times

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'. This jurisdiction includes the Chaldean Catholic communities of Australia and New Zealandmarker, and the first Bishop, named by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2006, is Archbishop Djibrail Kassab, until this date, Archbishop of Bassorahmarker in Iraq.There has been a large immigration to the United Statesmarker particularly to Southeast Michigan. Although the largest population resides in Southeast Michigan, there are populations in parts of Californiamarker and Arizonamarker as well. Canadamarker in recent years has shown growing communities in both eastern provinces, such as Ontariomarker, and in western Canada, such as Saskatchewanmarker.

The Church's relations with the Assyrian Church of the East have improved in recent years. In 1994 Pope John Paul II and Patriarch H.H Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East have signed a Common Christological Declaration. 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.


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.

The present Chaldean episcopate (November 2009) 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);
  • Ramzi Garmo, archbishop of Teheran (since February 1999);
  • Thomas Mayram, metropolitan of Urmi and Salmas (since 1973);
  • Yohannan Zora, archbishop of Ahwaz (since May 1974);
  • Jibrail Kassab, archbishop of Sydney (since October 2006);
  • Ya qob Ishaq, bishop of the Curia of Babylon and titular archbishop of Nisibis (since December 2005);
  • Andrew Abuna, 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);
  • Rabban Al-Qas, bishop of Amadiya (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).

Notable Chaldeans

The best-known political figure who is a member of the Chaldean Church is the Iraqi former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz during Saddam Hussein's regime.

Murders of Chaldean clergy

Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni was killed on 3 June 2007 in Mosulmarker, Iraq alongside the subdeacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed

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


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


  2. Council of Florence, Bull of union with the Chaldeans and the Maronites of Cyprus Session 14, 7 August 1445 [1]
  3. Charles A. Frazee, Catholics and Sultans: The Church and the Ottoman Empire 1453-1923, Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 0521027004
  4. Chaldean Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic), The new Catholic Encyclopedia, The Catholic University of America, Vol. 3, 2003 p. 366.
  5. George V. Yana (Bebla), "Myth vs. Reality" JAA Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 2000 p. 80
  6. David Wilmshurst, The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318-1913, Peeters Publishers, 2000 ISBN 9042908769
  7. Michael Angold Eastern Christianity, Cambridge University Press, 2006 ISBN 0521811139 pag 528
  8. AP

See also

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