Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - Many of the Chaldean communities of the diaspora, spread in Western Countries, are asking the Patriarchate to urgently send priests for pastoral care. But the Chaldean Patriarchate cannot send priests working at the service of the dioceses in Iraq overseas, also because the pastoral care of communities present in the historically important areas of the Chaldean Church is a priority. For this reason, the communities of the diaspora, with their Bishops, are urged to take steps to address the problem of the shortage of priestly vocations at a local level, even encouraging the ordination of married men. These are indications and the suggestions contained in a statement just released by the official channels of the Chaldean Patriarchate, in response to requests to send priests addressed to the Patriarchate by the Chaldean communities scattered around the world.
The Patriarchate - reads the patriarchal text, sent to Agenzia Fides - knows that we need priests for the Chaldean communities "that are located in Australia, Canada, USA, Europe and several Countries in the Middle East". But the scarcity of vocations makes it impossible to meet the many requests. And given the choice, the Patriarchate refers to properly consider the permanence of a large number of priests in the diocese who administer the Iraqi territories.
The phenomenon of the exodus of Chaldean Christians - the document reads - has intensified over the last fifteen years due to several factors: lack of security, extremism and terrorism, political instability. Due to all these phenomena "Christians have suffered so much, along with other citizens", remarks the document of the Patriarchate. But now there are no sufficient Chaldean priests to be sent in all the cities where new Chaldean communities are created, because of migratory flows. The emergency, of course, also applies to other Eastern Churches. But faced with this situation, one cannot further reduce the number of priests working in Iraq, if one does not want to worsen the condition of communities already at risk of extinction in lands in which those Churches have flourished.
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, contacted by Agenzia Fides, calls into question the responsibility of each individual Bishop, including those that are at the head of the Chaldean communities in diaspora. The statement released by the Chaldean Patriarchate invites all of them to look for solutions to help increase the number of priests in their respective dioceses, including the priestly ordination of married men, contemplated in the canonical discipline of the Eastern Catholic Churches. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/03/2017)