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Cablegate: Pope Condemns Iraq Church Bombings; Chaldean

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS VATICAN 002989

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN; NEA/RA; NEA/NGA;DRL/IRF ABRAMSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IZ KIRF PHUM PREL SOCI VT
SUBJECT: POPE CONDEMNS IRAQ CHURCH BOMBINGS; CHALDEAN
CATHOLICS "DIDN'T SEE IT COMING"

1. (U) The Pope reacted strongly to Sunday's Iraq church
bombings in an August 2 message to Emmanuel III, Patriarch of
Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church. The Pope said that he
"firmly deplored the unjust aggressions against those whose
only aim is to collaborate for peace and reconciliation in
the country." He added that he felt close to Iraqi Catholics
in their hour of suffering, which the statement said was made
even more grave because the attacks took place while the
faithful were gathered for prayer. The Pope expressed his
hope that "all believers in one merciful God (would) unite in
deploring every form of violence."

2. (SBU) Monsignor Philip Najim, representative of the
Chaldean Church to the Holy See, told us August 2 that the
Chaldeans "didn't see (Sunday's violence) coming." Though
Najim and others had warned recently of increased animosity
towards Christians on the part of Muslims (septel), Najim
said few thought it would erupt into the wholesale attacks
seen Sunday. "These are definitely not Iraqis," Najim
insisted. "We have never had these problems in Iraq before.

3. (SBU) Najim said that one of the targets was the
Patriarchal Seminary located next to a Chaldean parish. The
parish was hosting a prayer service in preparation for the
Catholic Feast of the Assumption August 15, so the victim
toll was high. Najim said he had spoken to some monks
attached to the seminary, who said they thought the death
toll would be higher than media estimates. Najim had not yet
been able to reach the Patriarch by phone, and was about to
visit the Vatican to consult with officials there.

4. (SBU) Chaldean Catholics form the majority of Iraq's
Christian population, some 750,000 people or 3 percent of the
population. Well over 65,000 Chaldean Catholics live in the
U.S., organized through a diocese headquartered in Detroit.
Najim noted that the Chaldean Church, which suffered
massacres of some 70,000 during World War I, was called "The
Church of the Martyrs." He was shaken after the bombings,
and worried that the attacks would spur a further exodus of
Christians from Iraq.

NICHOLSON


NNNN

2004VATICA02989 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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