Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Historic day for Catholics in Iraq

January 30, 2007

For the first time in more than five years, the tiny Armenian Catholic community in Iraq has its own archbishop.

The Vatican announced on January 26 that Pope Benedict XVI had given his assent to the Armenian Catholic bishops’ election of Father Emmanuel Dabbaghian, 73, as the Armenian Catholic archbishop of Baghdad.

The post had been vacant since the October 2001 retirement of Archbishop Paul Coussa at the age of 84.

The Armenian Catholic Archdiocese of Baghdad covers all of Iraq, and since 2001 Vatican statistics have given the Armenian Catholic population of the country as 2,000 faithful.

But Deacon Michel Jeangey, head of the Armenian program at Vatican Radio, said “probably more than half” the Armenian Catholics have moved, at least temporarily, to Armenia or Syria.

“They will return if there is peace,” he said.

Still, Deacon Jeangey said, one Armenian Catholic priest and a group of Armenian Catholic nuns continue ministering at the church’s parishes in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk as well as running a social center and two schools in Baghdad.
Archbishop-elect Dabbaghian was born Dec. 26, 1933, in Aleppo, Syria. After studying philosophy and theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1967.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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