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 CNS Story:

CARDINALS-DELLY Oct-17-2007 (440 words) xxxi

Pope acknowledges Iraq's beleaguered Catholics by naming cardinal

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Iraq's beleaguered Catholic minority received major recognition when Pope Benedict XVI named the head of the Chaldean patriarchate a cardinal.

Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad was designated to receive a red hat when the pope named 23 new cardinals Oct. 17; they were to be elevated at a consistory Nov. 24.

The cardinal-designate has stood out as the voice of the ongoing suffering of all Iraqis, not just the Christian minority.

At 80, Cardinal-designate Delly will not be eligible to vote in a conclave.

He was elected patriarch by the synod of bishops of the Chaldean church in December 2003, just nine months after a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq. The violence soon escalated as fighting among Iraq's Shiite and Sunni Muslims and other factions erupted and worsened.

As Christians became increasingly targeted, he repeatedly stressed that the Christian minority always has considered itself to be Iraqi and recalled how members of different faiths had once coexisted in peace.

"We are all one family, an Iraqi family," he would say time and time again.

The Chaldean bishops were forced to hold their 2005 extraordinary synod in Rome instead of Iraq because of the war. During the synod, the cardinal-designate highlighted "the tragic situation that is spreading across our martyred country" and appealed for peace.

He often urged nations to have pity on fleeing Iraqis and not send them back to Iraq.

He lamented the exodus of so many citizens, "but when your children get kidnapped or killed, when there's no security, no peace, well, of course (people) will want to spend the 20 or 30 years they have left to live on this earth abroad," he told Catholic News Service during a Rome visit in 2005.

He also expressed his gratitude for the solidarity shown by the Chaldean communities abroad who generously give aid to those in Iraq.

"If it weren't for our Chaldean immigrants in Detroit, in Chicago, California and elsewhere, the situation for our faithful would be much worse than what it is now," he told CNS.

Born in Telkaif, near Mosul, in 1927, Cardinal-designate Delly was ordained a priest in 1952 in Rome. He received a master's degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Urbanian University and a doctorate in theology and another in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University.

He was ordained a bishop in 1963 and named an archbishop in 1967. From 1963 until his retirement in October 2002, he served as an auxiliary in Baghdad, where the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate is based.

The Chaldean synod elected him patriarch just over one year later.


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