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Chaldean Catholic Bishop Asks the West, Are We Making Good Use of Our Freedom?
By Guest Reporter :: Sunday, April 22, 2012 :: 42695 Views :: Article Rating :: Community & Culture, Chaldean Churches

The situation in Iran and the challenge issued by this courageous Chaldean Bishop should cause us to pause and think as we enter into these Holy Days. This Bishop is correct; a culture without God has no future. He also asks us the right question, what are we doing with our freedoms? Pope Benedict reminds us that "A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all."

 

 
Chaldean Catholic Bishop Ramzi Garmou
 Chaldean Catholic Bishop
Ramzi Garmou

CHESAPEAKE,VA  (Catholic Online) - I recently read a report from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic Charity under the guidance of the Holy Father  with a special mission to "help suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide. It was an  interview with the Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Tehran, Ramzi Garmou. He gave the charity a message for  Christians of the West, "Be aware of the value of the freedom that you enjoy."

Here is another excerpt from the report.It can be read in full here.

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"He then challenged Western Christians to "make good use of their freedom," asking, "How do you use it in your countries?" He emphasized that they must not become "the slaves of a culture that seeks to drive God out of people's hearts," but rather that they should use their freedom to "propagate respect for human life." A culture without God leads to "death" and has "no future," he said.

"Christians in Iran only represent a small minority, yet "their vitality does not depend on their numbers but on the quality of their faith and their living witness." In their "day-to-day dialogue" with the Muslims, the Christians in Iran "give authentic witness to the values of the Gospels," he continued.

"The substantial emigration of Christians from Iran for political, economic and religious reasons represents a challenge, but Bishop Garmou emphasized that the Christian community in Iran does not let itself become discouraged. "Although we are our mothers' children, in truth we were sent to this country by God."

"He continued by saying that it is often forgotten today that the suffering endured for the Church is the "source of the life of the Church." He went on to say that such trials lead to the renewal and strengthening of the Church. Up to 99 percent of the population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is Muslim. Conversions from Islam are forbidden and punishable by death."

"Christians represent a minority of some 80,000, three-quarters of whom are Armenian Orthodox. The 20,000 Catholics living in Iran belong to three different Rites. They are permitted to practice their religion within their congregations at their places of worship, but they are not allowed to profess their faith openly, and missionary activity is forbidden."

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Under the heroic leadership of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, we are standing against the growing encroachments against the fundamental right to Religious Liberty in our own country.

The most recent example is the HHS mandate which seeks to compel our institutions, through the use of the Police Power of the State, to offer contraception, abortion inducing drugs and pay for sterilization.

There is a silver lining in the cloud. This HHS Edict has given rise to a tide of resistance.We have found one another and we are standing together in a movement of solidarity and citizen action. Every single Catholic Bishop in the United States is in opposition to this egregious mandate.

We are also properly using the Courts.The Becket Fund and other good lawyers and law firms have filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of numerous Catholic apostolates. On Thursday, February 23, 2012, the attorneys general from Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Texas filed lawsuits opposing the unconstitutional mandate and the numbers are increasing almost daily.

There is a legislative response underway. The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act was introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).  It would ensure that all who participate in the health care system "retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions." It has not yet been passed - but the efforts continue.

The situation in Iran and the challenge issued by this courageous Chaldean Bishop should cause us to pause and think as we enter into these Holy Days. This Bishop is correct; a culture without God has no future. He also asks us the right question, what are we doing with our freedoms?

In May of 2011, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathered in Rome for its 17th annual plenary session. Its theme was "Universal Rights in a World of Diversity - The Case of Religious Freedom". The gathering reflected the deep concerns the Holy See has over growing threats to the fundamental human right to Religious Freedom. Pope Benedict XVI is a Champion of Religious Liberty.

Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Academy, "Since man enjoys the capacity for a free personal ...

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St. Thomas, MI USA

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church
6900 Maple Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
Tel: (248) 788-2460
Fax: (248) 788-2153

Founding Pastor:
Rev. Hanna Cheikho

Current Pastor:
Rev. Frank Kalabat

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes, Retired  


Rev. Frank Kalabat
 

Rev. Frank Kalabat was born in 1970 in San Diego, California and entered St. Francis Seminary of San Diego, California.  The admission to the Catholic seminary made him the first born U.S. Chaldean to enter an American seminary.  In 1992, Fr. Kalabat continued his studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.  In July 1995, shortly after graduation he was ordained as priest by His Excellency Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim.  

Fr. Frank chose Mother of God Parish in Southfield, MI. as his first assignment serving the Chaldean community as an associate pastor for half a decade.  In 2001, Fr. Kalabat was elected to serve as Pastor of St. Tomas Parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan where he remains today.   

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim

Rev. Jirjis Abrahim was born in Telkaif, Iraq in 1942. Upon graduation Fr. Abrahim was admitted to St. Peter Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad, Iraq.  After a decade of studies and numerous degrees, Fr. Abrhim was ordained a priest in 1967.  He chose to continue ministering in Baghdad, Iraq.  There he was appointed the headmaster of the catechism at Mother of Sorrows Cathedral.  Fr. Abrahim also assisted St. Therese Church in Baghdad until 1978.  Afterward he was asked to assist St. Joseph Church in Baghdad and was appointed Parochial Vicar from 1978-1992. 

In 1992, Fr. Abrahim was called upon to assist the growing Chaldean population in Michigan.  Upon his arrival he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Tory, Michigan.  Two years later Fr. Abrahim was asked to become the pastor of a Parish community in Windsor, Canada  where he remained the parish pastor until 2001.

Continuing demographic changes in Michigan required Fr. Abrahim to return to St. Joseph Parish in Tory as a Parochial Vicar, where he remained until 2006.  In 2006 he was elected to St. Thomas Parish as Parochial Vicar in West Bloomfield, MI. where he currently serves the Chaldean community.

 

Rev. Emmanuel Rayes

Rev. Emmanuel Rays was born in Araden, Iraq in 1930.  He studied at St. John Dominican Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.  The Chaldean catholic ambassador ministered in northern Iraq from 1954-1963, in Syria and Lebanon from 1963-1980, and in the United Stated from 1980 to the present day.
 
Form 1980-1983, he was appointed associate pastor at Mother of God Parish in Southfield, Michigan.  From 1983-1989 he served as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  During the early 1990’s he ministered to the Chaldean community in Farmington Hills and was at St. Joseph Parish in Tory where he was Parochial Vicar until 2000.

Although Fr. Rayes retired in 2001, he remains active in serving the community.  He is the author of many articles in Arabic and is the editor-in-chief of the Al Mishal and Al-Tariq magazine.  He has translated and continues to translate many books from French and English into Arabic.