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Posted by Jeff from d53-237-236.try.wideopenwest.com ( on Saturday, February 15, 2003 at 1:37AM :

Assyrian Forum

Re: Pope's envoy leads Iraqi Catholics in peace Ma

Posted By: Wait a minute (
Date: Friday, 14 February 2003, at 8:28 p.m.

In Response To: Pope's envoy leads Iraqi Catholics in peace Mass *PIC* (Raman)

I want to know something.
Are these chaldean/nestorians or just general christians, not necessarily chaldean or nestorian denomination. Also, Aramaic is mentioned, as having French translated to Aramaic. Which Aramaic, old Aramaic, modern Assyrian/Aramaic(Syriac), or real Aramaic as it is spoken in Syria? Please post a response, I would like to clear this up. Also, the chaldean ritual, is it a tradition that was inspired by the catholics because Iraq is the "old Chaldea" or does it stem from the tradition from ancient times, without it ever having had an interruption. Thanks in advance, I would just like these cleared up.


February 13, 2003

: Iraq Crisis

: Pope's envoy leads Iraqi Catholics in peace
: Mass
: Janine di Giovanni in Baghdad

: Light in the dark: an Iraqi girl lights candles
: during the service in Baghdad led by
: Cardinal Roger Etchegaray. Photo by Suhaib
: Salem/Reuters

: THE believers came dressed in their best
: clothes, packing the shabby cathedral,
: crowding ten across a small pew, straining
: to hear the words of Cardinal Roger
: Etchegaray, the Pope’s envoy.
: They lifted their hands to heaven. They crowded
: in aisles. They brought their children, who
: sang in Aramaic, the ancient language of
: Christ. The women covered their heads
: respectfully in lace mantillas, reminiscent
: of the days when Mass in the West was said
: in Latin.

: But most of all, the Baghdad Catholics prayed
: for peace, a peace which seems more distant
: as the city braces itself for what will
: surely be a bloody and violent war.

: Once Iraqi bravado prevailed in the souks and
: the streets. No one believed that war would
: come again. Now people are visibly
: frightened: actively preparing, saying their
: goodbyes, sending children to Jordan,
: stocking their kitchens, saving water and
: petrol.

: For Christians, who account for 3 per cent of
: Iraq’s population, Cardinal Etchegaray’s
: mission of peace, which will include a visit
: to President Saddam Hussein to deliver a
: personal letter from the Pope, was a small
: sign of hope in the midst of a sea of
: desperation.

: “The anguish under which you live doesn’t cease
: to grow during these days,” the Cardinal
: said at the two-hour Mass, which included
: ancient Chaldean rites. “We are gathered
: here to show the extent of how much peace
: and prayers are truly linked to each other.”

: The Cardinal, a Basque who is renowned for his
: close relationship with the Pope and for
: being able to bypass Vatican politics, is a
: frequent visitor to troubled places. He has
: travelled in the name of peace to Vietnam,
: East Timor, Mexico and Algeria. In May,
: after the siege of the Church of the
: Nativity in Bethelehem, he brought words of
: peace and condolence.

: This is his third visit to Iraq. The first was
: in 1985 during the Iraq-Iran War, when he
: tried to negotiate the exchange of
: prisoners. He returned in 1998 to determine
: whether a papal visit was feasible. His
: latest visit comes at a time when Iraqis,
: who have already suffered from nearly 12
: years of sanctions, feel vulnerable and
: isolated.

: “Who can stop crying, listening to his words?”
: said Suad Rezuki, a pensioner who left the
: church briefly to light a candle in front of
: a small grotto of the Virgin Mary. Tears ran
: down her face as she struggled to express
: herself. “Day and night, I am praying now. I
: believe prayer is the only thing that can
: save us. Hearing his words makes me feel
: safer.”

: The Cardinal gave a homily in French, which was
: translated into Aramaic, invoking the power
: of prayer and reassuring the heaving
: congregation that the world had not
: forgotten them. The parishioners consisted
: of the old, the sick, teenagers, families,
: the dwindling remnants of the diplomatic
: community, including the French Ambassador,
: and some human shields with badges
: identifying themselves. In one row, senior
: Baath Party officials sat solemnly listening
: to the Cardinal’s words.

: When he greeted the parishioners, saying
: “Salaam, Salaam” — the Arabic for peace —
: the church broke into thunderous applause.

: “I said a prayer during the Mass for God to
: help us in this dirty war,” Leila Kheder, a
: retired accountant, said.

: The Cardinal, who arrived on a United Nations
: aircraft, will stay for several days in
: Baghdad. He has seen Taha Yassin Ramadan,
: the Iraqi Vice-President, and Tariq Aziz,
: the Deputy Prime Minister. The date of a
: meeting with the President has not yet been
: set, but he said that his one-hour meeting
: with Mr Aziz and Mr Ramadan was “in itself a
: sign of the interest that we both have in
: listening to each other, in hearing each
: other, in listening to points of view which
: all converge on a just peace”.

: In the cafés of old Baghdad, where men sit
: smoking apple-flavoured nargila water pipes
: and families dress in their best to
: celebrate the Eid holiday, the talk is of
: nothing but the forthcoming “aggression”.
: But for two hours in a crowded, stuffy
: cathedral in the heart of the city, people
: forgot their fear and anxieties and prayed
: together for peace.


: Can papal diplomacy be a stronger influence
: than the UN?

: E-mail your views to debate@thetimes.co.uk

-- Jeff
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