Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - Pope Benedict created a Chaldean Eparchy for Oceania, to care for Australian and New Zealand Catholics who follow the Chaldean Rite, with the title of "Saint Thomas Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans, and appointed Archbishop Djibrail Kassab, first Bishop of the new Eparchy transferring him from the see of Basra, (Iraq). Mgr Kassab will retain his title of Archbishop "ad personam".
Bishop Philip Wilson, president of the Australian Bishops Conference commented: “On behalf of the Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church in Australia we welcome the creation of the new Eparchy and new Bishop. It is important for Chaldean Catholics to be able to celebrate their faith according to their Rite and ancient traditions”.
Chaldean Catholics in the world number about 1 million. About half live in Iraq where there is the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the Partirach is His Beatitude Emmanuel-Karim Delly.
There are two Chaldean Catholic communities in the United States. One in Detroit, the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle created over 20 years ago, and the other in California with a total number of 170,000 faithful gathered in 15 parishe. In Canada there are about 20,000 Chaldean Catholics in three parishes, respectively in Windsor, Toronto and Montreal. In Oceania there are about 20,000 Chaldean Catholics: 14,000 in Melbourne, served by three priests with two churches, rooms for catechism and a school; 12,000 in Sydney, served by three priests with a church and three missions in the city suburbs. In New Zealand there are at least 3,000 Chaldean Catholics service by one priest and organised in three centres: Auckland with a church and a priest, Wellington and Hamilton. In Europe there are at least 60,000 Chaldean Catholics in communities in France, Germany, United Kingodom, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Greece and Italy.
The Chaldean Rite is one of five main eastern Catholic Rites, with the Alexandrine rite (Coptic and Ethiopian), the Rite of Antioch (Syro and Maronite), the Armenian, that of Constantinople. The Chaldean rite is celebrated by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Church, the Syro-Malabar Church. The Chaldean traditional ritual expanded in an independent way under the ancient Sassanid Empire (4th-7th century) that reigned over Persia (today Syria, Iraq, Iran), before the Arabian conquest: hence the name “Persian Rite” that is used sometimes. This Rite found its current form, at least in the Holy Mass, at the beginning of the 7th century. It then developed following its fundamental structure. Since the 17th century the name “Chaldean” prevailed in Rome whilst in the Chaldean regions the “Syro-Oriental” one was preferred. The Chaldean liturgy preserves nearly exclusively the use of the Syrian language (or Aramaic) which is a true ornament for the beauty and musicality of its ancient sounds, even though, in the Middle East, in some churches, readings in Arabic, the language of the people of that area, prayers, passages from the Bible and other liturgical formulas, became ever more popular. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 23/10/2006 righe 27 parole 272)