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Christianity / Orientations / Roman Catholic / Eastern Rite /
Chaldean Catholic Church



Open-air shrine for Virgin Mary next to a Chaldean Catholic church, Baghdad, Iraq.
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Open-air shrine for Virgin Mary next to a Chaldean Catholic church, Baghdad, Iraq.

Chaldean Catholics by country
Last column: % Chaldean Catholics of the population
Egypt 500 <0.1%
Iran 7,000 <0.1%
Iraq 420,000 1.7%
Israel 200 <0.1%
Lebanon 12,000 0.4%
Syria 20,000 0.1%
Turkey 5,000 0.007%
Total *) 460,000 0.12%

*) Calculated for the total population of North Africa and the Middle East, approx. 460,000,000.

Chaldean Patriarch Mar Rophael 1 Bidawid.

Chaldean Patriarch Mar Rophael 1 Bidawid.

Semi-autonomous Christian church, which is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church through the Eastern Rite. Through this arrangement, the Chaldean branch is allowed to retain its customs and rites, even when these differ from the traditions of the Roman church. There are historical ties with the Nestorian Church in Iraq, but these 2 branches split 450 years ago.
The head of the church is based in Baghdad, Iraq, and his title is Katholicos Patriarch. Presently this position is held by His Holiness, Mar Rophael 1 Bidawid. Beneath him, there are 4 archdioceses (2 in Iraq and 2 in Iran) and 7 dioceses.
The Syrian members are led by the Diocese of Aleppo. The few thousand members in Iran are led by 3 archbishops, in Ahwaz, Teheran and in Orumiyeh (who also happens to be the bishop of Salmas). The Lebanese members are led by the Diocese of Beirut.
The Chaldeans still embrace their East Syrian liturgy of Addai and Mari, performing it in Syriac (a language close to Aramaic, the language of Jesus).

History
Earlier history, see Nestorian Church.
16th century: The Nestorian community of India joins the Roman Catholic Church, influenced by the Portuguese traders and colonists.
1551: When patriarch John Sulaka goes to Rome and professes his Catholic faith, many Nestorians follow him. Others do not accept his conversion. The Catholic branch comes to be called Chaldean, or Chaldean Catholic, or East Syriac. (Calling it Nestorian, after Nestorius, would not have been acceptable to the Roman Catholics because of the charge of hersesy which had been applied to him for ages.) Over the next 3 centuries, the relationship to Rome is slightly turbulent, resulting in periods of non-affiliation.
1830: Final unification with Rome. Since then, the church has an unbroken line of patriarchs until the present.




By Tore Kjeilen