Chaldean patriarch says no to Pope

Calif. priests must return to Iraq
Patriarch Sako (photo from Friends of Iraq)

Patriarch Sako (photo from Friends of Iraq)

The following comes from a Jan. 15 story in the Los Angeles Times.

Intervention by Pope Francis has apparently not solved the schism between a prominent Chaldean priest in eastern San Diego County and the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq.

At issue is a demand by Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako that Father Noel Gorgis and several other Chaldean priests in the U.S. return to Iraq or face, in effect, excommunication.

In an interview with Aleteia, a Rome-based Catholic news agency, Sako said that the survival of the church was at stake during the onslaught by Islamic radicals.

“We have been there for 2,000 years,” he said. “We have a mission and a role, and if a future exists for the Chaldean Church, it is not in the diaspora but in Iraq. If all the families leave, and even the priests, the entire history and Chaldean Christian patrimony will vanish.”

Gorgis, 49, known as Father Noel, is pastor at St. Peter Chaldean Church in El Cajon. Along with the Detroit area, eastern San Diego County has been a major resettling spot for Iraqi immigrants.

Chaldean leaders insist that sending Gorgis and the others back to Iraq would mark them for death by the Islamic forces that have swept through much of Iraq, destroying churches, killing Christians and forcing many to flee.

“Father Noel isn’t cattle for the slaughter — he’s our priest,” said Chaldean community leader Mark Arabo. “He needs to stay here for the Christians of our Chaldean diocese.”

 

Aleteia estimates that of 14 Chaldean priests in 19 Western states in the U.S., 10 would be required to return to Iraq under Sako’s order. “Chaldean priests forced to choose between disobedience and martyrdom,” said a headline on the news agency’s website.

Covered by the order are priests who purportedly did not seek the church’s approval to leave Iraq. Gorgis was born in Iraq but is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. In August, he celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest.

In hopes of overturning Sako’s order, supporters of Gorgis and the other priests appealed to the pope. Though not strictly part of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, the Chaldean Church reveres the pope as “the father of all Christians,” Sako said in the interview with Aleteia.

Last week, Pope Francis appeared to have settled the issue. A letter written with the authority of the pope by a church official asserted that Gorgis and the others need not accede to Sako’s demand.

But on Friday, Sako issued a statement that, in effect, said he did not acknowledge the pope’s authority to overturn his order that the priests return to Iraq. He did not say what steps he might take to enforce his order.

Returning to Iraq, Gorgis said in October, when Sako’s order was given, would be the equivalent of deciding to commit suicide.

 

 

 

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  1. david drewelow says:

    does anyone know if the chaldean liturgy was able to remain intact without an ‘aggiornamento’?

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      Yes, the Council specifically said that the non-Latin Rites were to be preserved. This tit-for-tat is an interesting test of the role of the Pontiff in churches outside the Latin Rite. I find myself compelled by all three sides in this dispute, and pray for their wisdom.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      The Chaldean Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom has not been tampered with by the modernist imbedded in the Roman Rite, thank God and His Mother!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director
      Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.

  2. CCC: ” 1203 The liturgical traditions or rites presently in use in the Church are the Latin (principally the Roman rite, but also the rites of certain local churches, such as the Ambrosian rite, or those of certain religious orders) and the Byzantine, Alexandrian or Coptic, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean rites.
    In “faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity, and that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.”

    (On the Vatican web site also see: “Sacrosanctum Consilium”.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Commemoration of SAINT PETER’S CHAIR AT ROME
    Preserved to this day at the Vatican Basilica in Rome is the chair upon which, as history tells us, Pope Peter sat enthroned to exercise his Christ-given authority over the universal Church. Our Lord founded the continuing line of visible heads of the Church with the impetuous fisherman of the Sea of Galilee. Peter, inspired by God to recognize the divinity of the Son of Man, became the guardian of the revelation of faith which was left as a heritage from Christ to all men. Today’s feast commemorates the unbroken chain of successors of the bishop of Rome. Submission to that See, by Christ’s own declaration, is a mark of unity with Christ Himself.

    O God, You have entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Your blessed apostle Peter and have given him the power of bishop to bind or to loose. May his intercession free us from the slavery of sin.

    • Let us not forget that in the history of the Church, there have been 267 Popes.
      80 Popes have been canonized Saints, but 12 were morally evil and corrupt.
      The corrupt included Alexander VI (was a Borgia and fathered Lucrezia), and playboy Benedict XI.

      Jesus, himself picked 12 imperfect sinners to be His Apostles. They included our first Pope St. Peter who denied Christ 3 times, but repented.
      (The Apostle Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver and hanged himself instead of seeking mercy.)

      So that we may not be confused or lead astray:
      Read:
      1) Sacred Scripture (a Catholic Bible) for the speech of God in entirety (CCC 81);
      2) and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition” – which contains the Doctrine of the Faith.

      CCC: ” 81 Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”
      “And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.
      It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. ”

      “….. let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments.” – Pope Francis , May 15, 2013.

      “…

  4. Pope Francis preaches courage and help for persecuted Christians, but this is not an example of it.

  5. Life Lady says:

    If this bishop decides that the Pope has no authority over him and the Chaldean rite, then does it follow that he has placed himself outside of the Universal One Church that we know? Those priests who have been ordered to return to Iraq will be killed, there is no question about that. Will it benefit the Chaldean church to have them die a martyr’s death or to live here in comfort ministering to people already affected by what is happening in Iraq? I can’t see the logic in putting those men in such a position, but I am not God, and His ways are not always apparent to me . If there are any living saints among that group, they will obey rather than be excommunicated.

    • They are needed in the refugee camps. People there have no sacraments. My Chaldean Priest said he would go.
      For the comfort of these men, Chaldeans in Iraq are to go without the Eucharist?
      They took a vow of obedience.

  6. Lisa Nicholas says:

    This article needs some classification. The writer says, “Though not strictly part of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome, the Chaldean Church reveres the pope as “the father of all Christians,” Sako said in the interview with Aleteia.” The Church whose visible head is the the Pope (bishop of Rome) is the Catholic Church (not “the Roman Catholic Church”). All who are in communion with the Pope are Catholics, and bound by his authority. This includes Chaldean Catholics such as Patriarch Sako. If he tries to excommunicate his priests for not returning to Iraq, he will be the one subject to censure by the Pope, not the priests.

    I can understand Sako’s concern, but perhaps, if he really believes Chaldean priests must make a heroic testimony to the faith, even to the point of martyrdom, that he should lead by example. THAT would be inspiring!

  7. The Chaldean Church is CHURCH in communion with Rome. It is not just a ‘rite’. The Pope did not have the authority to overturn this type of order of the Chaldean Church.

    • FrMichael says:

      Mary Davenport, you need to check the writings of the First and Second Vatican Council. The pope has plenary power over all Catholics and all Catholic Churches, not just the Latin Church. While it is unusual for a pope to override a patriarch, he certainly has the authority to do so.

      The proposition to the contrary is a heresy called Febronianism.

    • The Pontiff does have a right and always have had the right to hear appeals. Notice that the Pope of Rome did not put his nose in the Business in another Church until he was asked to appeal.

    • Ryan Carnes says:

      The Pope of Rome does have a right to hear appeals though, he always has. The Priest asked the Bishop of Rome for an appeal.

  8. FrMichael says:

    Lisa Nicholas:

    The Patriarch is in residence in Baghdad, so he is leading by example.

    I have to say that I wasn’t particularly sympathetic to the priests and monks, but the Patriarch has gone a bridge too far is he truly declared that the Pope does not have any authority over him.

    • I believe this may be a misquote on the part of the press.
      The article itself is mistaken about The Chaldean Church being “strictly not part of the Roman Catholic Church” is wrong also. They are an oriental rite of the Roman Catholic Church.
      That being said, I suspect the Patriarch is taken aback that the Pope ruled against him in an administrative action of a Priest to his Patriarch. I’m sure this will be expounded on.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Lisa,

      Re.: Patriarch Sako, HE IS LEADING BY EXAMPLE, HE IS STAYING WITH THE PEOPLE HE WAS ORDAINED FOR IN SPITE OF CONSTANT DANGERS AND PROBABLE MARTYRDOM!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
      May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
      Viva Cristo Rey!
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  9. Robert Ferrez says:

    “10News spoke with Father Noel Gorgis in October about his fears of returning home.“To tell me go back to Iraq, it really is to make to tell me go and have suicide,” Gorgis said at the time.”

    First of all, your Bishop is not asking you to commit the sin of suicide, he needs help to minister the Sacraments to the faithful and to hold daily mass to give them Eucharist.There are towns outside Mosul such as Eril and Tall Kayf with many Catholic Christians, why would the Bishop put you in harms way when he desperately is in need?

    The courage to die for Christ of which you so glaringly lack is called——-Martyrdom! St. Augustine exclaims: “O how sweet it is to die, if one’s life has been a good one!” For such as he, “to die is gain.”

    I heard a story about St. Peter leaving Rome at the urging of the Christian’s because they feared for his life, so as he was leaving Rome he meets the Lord on the road going to Rome and Peter asks, “Lord where are you going and Jesus says I’m going to Rome to preach the Gospel,” at that Perter realizes his mistake and turns back to Rome. Fr. Gorgis turn back!

    I have read the protests and comments given by the Chaldean church in El Cajon, their worldly comments do not reflect the overall mission of the Church and the sacred vows priests take at their ordination.

  10. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    Father Michael,
    The Pope must recognize the jurisdiction of Archbishop Sako has over priests ordained for the Chaldean Church!
    God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
    May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
    Viva Cristo Rey!
    Kenneth M. Fisher

  11. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    Since when is the possibility, even probability, of martyrdom a valid EXCUSE for not obeying your Superior, your Patriarch?

    God bless, yours in Their Hearts!
    May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika and His Church!
    Viva Cristo Rey!
    Kenneth M. Fisher

  12. Juan Oskar says:

    My question is…When Islam attacks Rome, will all the clergy and the pope just stay there and be martyrs? Or, will the Swiss Guards fight so that they may escape?

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