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Iraqi Christians Hope to Inspire Peace via Diplomacy and Dialogue
By Huda Metti :: Saturday, February 23, 2008 :: 73422 Views :: Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends, Chaldean Churches

Kirkuk, IRAQ - Chaldean Archbishop Sako has been elected interim chairman of the Iraqi Council of Christians.  A newly formed body that works to broker peace in Iraq and help communicate the importance of Christians in the Middle East.  The Archbishop explains that the goal is to create a single unit to engage with the authorities and Christians’ Muslim brothers, but not to be a political party.

The idea developed after a series of deadly coordinated attacks against Christian early this year across Iraq.  Iraqi Christians remain at risk and weakened by persecution and continual harassment.  Mass emigration and without proper political representation the indigenous people of Iraq are fast faltering.  Working at first at the local level the Christian Council is hoping to create a unified voice that will work to promote peace and solidarity among all Iraqis. 

For now their initiative is limited to Kirkuk and chaired for the time being by Chaldean archbishop, Mgr Louis Sako.  The Council will engage in dialogue local political authorities and promote peaceful co-existence with Christians’ and “Muslim brothers.”

Backed by Iraqi President Talabani, the Council will help bring together Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syro-Catholics and Armenian Orthodox and share a “common voice.”

The council will be composed of 30 members, clergy and laity, and meet once a month. “The Christian community welcomed the news about the Council’s creation,” he said. “I hope other cities follow Kirkuk’s example.”

According to Monsignor Sako, the lack of internal cohesion and shared views and goals are the Christian community’s greatest weakness.  “The main goal” in setting up the council “is to create a Christian common front,” he said. “If we have questions and problems we must be united to study them and propose solutions to the government.” But the newly-established council “is not a political party; it does not represent any side and has no intention of interfering with the work of parties.”

In Kirkuk, there are 12,000 Christians out of a population of about a million. In the last few years the city has taken in a lot of internally displaced people who fled the north from more dangerous areas like Baghdad and Mosul. 

The city has recently received the solidarity of Europe’s Christians. A 12-member delegation from Pax Christi France-Italy visited the archdiocese last Sunday.

Led by French bishop Mgr Marc Stenger, the delegation also visited Christian villages located in the Nineveh Plains and in Iraqi Kurdistan.

St. George, MI USA
St. George Chaldean Catholic Church
45700 Dequinder Rd.,
Shelby Twp., MI 48317
Tel: (586) 254-7221
Fax: (586) 254-2874
 
Pastor: Rev.
Emanuel Shaleta
Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Basel Yaldo

Rev. Emanuel Shaleta 
Rev. Emanuel Hana Isho Shaleta was born in the village of Peshabur in northern Iraq. After completing his primary education he applied and was admitted in September 1971, to the illustrious St. John Seminary in Mosul, Iraq. In 1977 Rev. Shaleta was awarded a scholarship to study philosophy and theology in the renowned Urbaniana Pontifical University in Rome. There he obtained a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology. 
 
The reverends impressive work earned him the honor to be ordained to the priesthood by the hands of Pope John Paul II, in St. Peter Basilica in Rome on May 31, 1984. 
 
On June 3, 1987, Fr. Shaleta was assigned to serve as pastor for St. Paul Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in North Hollywood, California, where he served for just about a decade and a half. 
 
In December 2000, Fr. Shaleta was called to assist St. Jospeh Catholic Chaldean Church in Troy, Michigan and shortly thereafter was appointed pastor in 2002. Fr. Shaleta’s impressive leadership merited a unanimous appointment as the first pastor of St. George Chaldean Catholic Church, in Shelby Twp. Michigan, billed as the largest Chaldean church in the world. Fr. Shaleta continues to this day to impressively lead the faithful and offer wonderful opportunities and service to the community. 
 
Rev. Basel Yaldo
 
Rev. Basel Yaldo was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1970. Rev. Yaldo graduated from the National Teachers College in Iraq in 1989 and was drafted in the army in 1990. In 1993, he was honorably discharged for his service. A year later Rev. Yaldo was admitted to Babel College in Baghdad to study philosophy and theology. There Fr. Yaldo, received a scholarship to study in Rome at Urban College, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in theology in 2001. 
 
On November 23, 2002, Fr. Yaldo was ordained a priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Thomas the Apostle for the Chaldeans. Fr. Yaldo continued his studies whereby he completed a masters degree in Dogmatic Theology with a focus on Marian studies from Urban College in 2003. 
 
The following year he was appointed assistant director of the seminary in the Dora district of Baghdad, and taught Dogmatic Theology at Babel College. His commanding leadership and steadfast skills earned him the secretarial appointment to Patriarch Emanuel III Delly. Upon completion of his duties as patriarchal secretary, Fr. Yaldo was nominated and selected as assistant pastor to St. George Chaldean Catholic Church Shelby Township, Michigan.