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Are Those Who Remain Silent and Uninvolved Faithful?
By Amer Hedow :: Friday, September 26, 2008 :: 89667 Views :: Religion & Spirituality, Government & Society, Chaldean Churches

Mosul, IRAQ – “If the condemnation by their Imams of the kidnapping and murder of Chaldean Archbishop Rahho was not enough, what will stop them,” says Eddie Gulli.  The Archbishop left big shoes to fill after his disgraceful execution.  “Our people have been able to survive because of faith.  They know this and that is why they attack our church.  They know if you attack our faith you will ultimately kill all of us.”

Gulli’s comments ring true to many Iraqi Christian leaders.  The continuous attacks against the passive church seem to only get worse.  “It seems the more humble and forgiving the church, the angrier these crazy people become,” Gulli comments while shaking his head dumbfounded. 

As soon as a new priest, Fr. Bassman Fatoohey was assigned to replace the Archbishop in Mosul the threats against his life began.  "I recently received a letter at the presbytery. Inside was a bullet. I knew at once what it meant," he says: "I was a marked man,” Fr. Fatoohey tells the Catholic Herald. 

As Fr. Fatoohey speaks a young man behind the priest time and again dashes looks around the area.  The twenty-something fellow has volunteered to be the priest’s bodyguard.  Surprisingly the guard carries no weapon, but is prepared to sacrifice his life to give the priest a chance to run should they come under attack.    

The priest continues, "There's no point," says Fr Bassman. "Any attacks against us are so well organized that if it happens, we know there's nothing we can do to stop it."

More amazing to the Herald reporter is the eternal optimism and strength of faith the Chaldeans maintain in the plausible reality of extinction.  One such remarkable testmant to faith is Sr Hayat, who the Herald reporter also interviewed in a village outside Mosul. The 25-year-old nun, said that since 2004 several bombs had gone off close to the convent. Bravely, she said: "There is no need for an alarm clock; we wake to the sound of bombs."  The young nun narrowly escaped death when a man standing near her was killed. Her clothes were splattered with blood. "If you want to see blood," she said trying to smile, "come to Mosul."

A fraction of the Christians remain in Mosul.  Unlike the more peaceful territories of Iraq, Mosul remains under the control of Islamist fanatics that look to interrupt the lives of Christians as much as possible.  

Many have fled to a life of forced squalor in neighboring Turkey or Syria. Families forced to live in 8 by 8 square feet size rooms shared by six people or more.  No running water and little food.  Many of the emigrant refugees are not allowed to seek jobs or send their children to school.  The refugees remain in the shadows scratching out a living in hopes of securing a visa to a country offering more humane opportunities.  

Chaldean church leaders fight to persuade Christians to remain in Iraq.  However, with little money and support the indigenous and once resurgent Church of the East is fast dwindling. 
Some organizations are heading the call to help Christians in Iraq in the communities darkest hour.  In the UK the Aid to the Church in Need is hosting an event at Westminster Cathedral this Saturday, September 27, to focus on Iraq, where Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad will be principal celebrant at the 10.30am Mass. For more information visit
www.acnuk.org

Those who are prepared to answer the call to save the dying community are encouraged to contact any of the remaining Chaldeans churches to discuss how resources to aid Iraqi Christians can be made.  Chaldean churches outside of Iraq in countries like Jordon, Sweden, Canada, Russia, and the United States are also able to help direct whatever support being offered.

Sacred Heart Parish, MI USA

 

Sacred Heart Parish
310 W. Seven Mile. Rd.
Detroit, MI 48203
Tel: (313) 368-6214
Fax: (313) 891-0132

The parish was established by Rev. Jacob Yasso in 1973

Rev. Jacob Yasso

Rev. Jacob Yasso was born in the village of Telkaif, Iraq.  After completing high school he was recruited to Rome and Urbaniana University where he completed his Masters Degree in philosophy and Theology.  Fr. Yasso was ordained a priest in 1960 and served the Diocese of Mosul, where he worked in the public school system. Fr. Yasso was also asked by the Patriarch to teach at the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad, where he served as administrator, professor of philosophy and religious life, and rector of the minor seminary. 

In 1964, Fr. Yasso was appointed to the United States to serve the growing Chaldean community in Detroit.  There he served as the 4th Pastor of Mother of God Parish.  .  In 1972, the Patriarch charged Fr. Yasso with building a new parish for the Chaldeans in Detroit.  In taking great pains to care for the community Fr. Yasso accelerated the development of a new church and community center.  In 1975, Fr. Yasso completed the development of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit and shortly thereafter he added the Chaldean Center of America in 1980, 

A few years later in 1982, Fr. Yasso was asked to assist the late Fr. Kattoula at St. Peter’s Church in San Diego, CA.  Before long, Fr. Yasso was once again recruited to Rome to study new Canon Law of the Church.  While in Rome Fr. Yasso completed his third Masters Degree in Church Law, making him the only Chaldean priest trained in Canon Law. 

In 1988, the Patriarch and Vatican authorities asked Fr. Yasso to travel to Canada and establish a parish and community center.  While there he served as a Tribunal Judge for the Archdiocese of Toronto.  Four years later Fr. Yasso returned to Sacred Heart church in Detroit to help care for the remaining Chaldean community residence in the Detroit area.  To this day, Fr. Yasso continues to serve as the parish pastor creating activities and advising the City of Detroit on community related matters. 

Fr. Yasso is a member of the International WYCLIF Bible translators, since 1975, and has completed the translation of the New Testament from Greek and Aramaic into Arabic and spoken Chaldean.   The publication of his scholarly work is set to be released soon.