Chaldean Catholics get their own Bishop

Australian and New Zealand Catholics who follow the Chaldean Rite will have their own Oceania eparchy or diocese and bishop, the Holy See announced on Saturday.

The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson, welcomed the creation by Pope Benedict XVI of the Chaldean Eparchy of Oceania with the title of "St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans".

The Pope has appointed Archbishop Djibrail Kassab of Bassorah (Basra) in Iraq as the first Bishop of the new Eparchy. Archbishop Kassab will retains his title of Archbishop "ad personam", the Holy See announcement said.

An Eparchy in the Chaldean Rite corresponds to a Diocese of the Latin Rite. The new jurisdiction embraces the Chaldean Communities both in Australia and in New Zealand.

Archbishop Wilson also warmly welcomed Archbishop Kassab's appointment.

"On behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and the Catholic Church in Australia I welcome the creation of the Chaldean Eparchy and look forward to welcoming the arrival of Archbishop Kassab," Archbishop Wilson said.

"It is important that Catholics who belong to the Chaldean Church have the opportunity to celebrate their faith and worship according to their own rituals and laws and the creation of a Chaldean Eparchy will help facilitate this."

The Chaldean Church is an Eastern Church of the Catholic Church with its presence historically centred on the Middle East, particularly in Iraq.

Other Eastern Catholic Churches, the Ukranian, Maronite and Melkite churches, have been present in Australia for almost a century and each have their own bishop.

Eastern Churches are in communion with the Roman Church, but have distinct liturgies, according to their tradition, as well as some different emphases in theology and canon law. Immigration to Australia has increased their numbers.

Pope Benedict XVI, creates the Chaldean Eparchy of Oceania, and appoints the Most Reverend Djibrail Kassab, the first Bishop (Media Release, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (21/10/06)
Archbishop Philip Wilson welcomes creation of the Chaldean Eparchy of Oceania (Media Release, 21/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archeparchy of Bassorah (Catholic-Hierarchy)

Abducted Iraqi priest released after a month of torture and threats (CathNews, 14/9/06)
Chaldean Church mediating in release of Iraq hostages (CathNews, 23/4/04)
Bishops elect new leader of Chaldean Catholics (CathNews, 5/12/03)
Chaldean Catholics demand role in post-Saddam Iraq rule (CathNews, 17/9/03)

23 Oct 2006