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Chaldean Nestorian Uniats

The Chaldeans are an eastern rite of the Catholic Church. Those who profess the Chaldean or Syro-Chaldean Catholic Rite are Eastern Syrians, coming from what was anciently Mesopotamia, but later the borderland of Persia. They ascribe the origin of the rite to two of the early disciples. Addeus and Maris, who first preached the Gospel in their lands. It is really a remnant of the early Persian Church, and it has always used the Syriae language in its liturgy. The peculiar Syriac which it uses is known as the eastern dialect, as distinguished from that used in the Maronite and Syro-Catholic rites, which is the western dialect. The method of writing this church Syriac among the Chaldeans is somewhat different from that used in writing it among the western Syrians.

Rome's intrigues proved ruinous to the small Nestorian Church. The split on the election of a patriarch in 1551, when one of tbe candidates, Johannes Sullaka, threw himself into the arms of Rome, hoping thus to secure himself in his chair, gave Rome a firm footing, a position she retained in spite of occasional reverses. In 1684 the Pope ventured for the first time to appoint a special Syrian-Chaldean Patriarch, and since 1778 the subjection of that portion of the Nestorian Church existing in the Mesopotamian plain of Mosul and in the adjacent hill-tracts had been completed.

They are called "Chaldean Christians," a name first given by the Latin missionaries. The Porte in 1843 officially recognized the Chaldean Church as a separate religious community in Turkey. There were some 64,000 members, as compared with 100,000 Nestorians who had adhered to their ancient Church. Among the latter, the Roman Church reported great progress and accessions on a large scale.

The Chaldeans and Nestorians use in their church books the antique letters of the older versions of the Syriac Scriptures which are called "astrangelo", and their pronunciation is somewhat different. The Chaldean Church in ancient times was most flourishing, and its history under Persian rule was a bright one. In the sixth century it embraced the Nestorian heresy, for Nestorius on being removed from the See of Constantinople went to Persia and taught his views. The Chaldean Church took up his heresy and became Nestorian. This Nestorian Church not only extended throughout Mesopotamia and Persia, but penetrated also into India (Malabar) and even into China. The inroads of Mohammedanism and its isolation from the centre of unity and from intercommunication with other Catholic bodies caused it to diminish through the centuries.

Various attempts were made by the Nestorians, over the course of nine centuries, to join the Catholic Church. In some cases, these movements were the results of efforts made by the early Franciscan and Dominican, and, after them, the Jesuit missionaries. In 1233 the Nestorian catholicos, Sabarjesus, sent to Pope Gregory IX an orthodox profession of faith and was admitted to union with the Church of Rome. The same was done, in 1304, by Jabalaha (1281-1317) during the pontificate of Benedict XI. In 1439 Timotheus, Nestorian Metropolitan of Tarsus and Cyprus, renounced Nestorianism, and in 1553 the patriarch John Sulaka visited Rome and submitted to Pope Julius III his profession of faith. His successor, Ebedjesus, followed his example, visited Rome, and assisted at the last (twenty-fifth) session of the Council of Trent.

Lasting contact with the Roman Catholic Church began with the middle of the sixteenth century. In the sixteenth century the Church in Malabar, India, came into union with the Holy See, and this induced the Nestorians to do likewise. The conversion of part of the Nestorians and the reunion of their ancient Church with the Holy See began in the seventeenth century, and continued to the present day. Except for the Christians of St. Thomas in India, the Nestorians were then a small remnant with a few bishops in the Kurdish mountains. The patriarchate had become hereditary, a nephew succeeding uncle. In 1551 from the this system resulted in a schism, and one faction sent its candidate for consecration to Rome, where he was proclaimed patriarch of the Chaldeans by Julius III. In 1582 Simeon Denha was elected patriarch of the converted Nestorians, henceforth called simply Chaldeans, and, owing to Turkish persecution, he transferred the patriarchal see to Urumiah in Persia. Shortly afterwards, he received the pallium from Gregory XIII through Laurent Abel, Bishop of Sidon, who was commissioned by the pope to investigate the condition of the various churches of the East. Mar Denha's successors, Simeon VIII, IX, X, XI, and XII, all remained faithful to Rome, and fixed their patriarchal see at Urumiah and Khosrowa; Simeon IX, in fact, in a letter to Pope Innocent X, informs him that the Nestorian Uniats, or Chaldeans, under his patriarchal jurisdiction numbered some 200,000 souls. Simeon XI sent his profession of faith to Alexander VII (elected 1653); and Simeon XII, to Clement X (1670). From 1670 to 1770 the relations between the Nestorian patriarchs and Rome were suspended.

But in 1770 one of the successors of Simeon XII addressed a letter to Pope Clement XIV in which he expressed his intention of resuming once more orthodox and friendly relations with Rome. The successors of this patriarch, however, completely severed their relations with Rome, and transferred their patriarchal residence from Urumiah to Kotchanes, in Kurdistan, which became thenceforward the see of the Nestorian patriarchs. Meanwhile, the many thousand Nestorian Uniats, or Chaldeans, who remained faithful to the Catholic Faith selected for themselves an independent Catholic patriarch, who was confirmed with all the patriarchal privileges by Innocent XI on 20 May, 1681. To his successor, Joseph I, was aiven the title of "Patriarch of Babylon", i.e. of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the ancient patriarchal see of the Nestorian Church. In 1695 he resigned and went to Rome, where he shortly afterwards died. His successors were Joseph II, III, IV, V, and VI, all belonging to the same family of Mar Denha. They governed the Chaldean Church during the eighteenth century, and their patriarchal residence was transferred from Persia to Mesopotamia - to Diarbekir, Mosul, and Amida successively.

Several Capuchin (1725) and Dominican (1750) missionaries were sent to Mosul, and through their efforts and zeal all traces of Nestorianism disappeared from the Chaldean Church in Mesopotamia. After the death of Joseph VI the Congregation of Propaganda decreed that henceforth but one Chaldean patriarch should be acknowledged. Leo XII confirmed the decree, and Pius VIII put it into execution, 5 July, 1830, by creating Mar Hanna (Yuhanna Hormuz) the sole and only legitimate patriarch of the Chaldeans. He transferred his patriarchal see from Diarbekir to Bagdad, where he died in 1838. His successor, Isaiadc Yakob, who resided at Khosrowa, near Salamas, in Persia, resigned in 1845, and was succeeded, in 1848, by Joseph Audo, who died in 1878, and was succeeded by Elia Abbolionan, who died in 1894 and .was succeeded by Ebedjesus Khayyat, after whose death at Bagdad, in 1899, the patriarchal dignity was conferred in 1900 upon the present incumbent, Joseph Emanuel. The official title and residence of the Chaldean patriarchs is that of Babylon, but for administrative reasons they reside at Mosul, from which centre they govern 5 archdioceses and 10 dioceses, containing 100,000 souls.

The schism still exists, the Uniate patriarch of the Chaldeans, always called Joseph, residing at Diarbekr, Mosul, and since 1830, Bagdad. In 1888 his jurisdiction included four archdioceses and seventeen dioceses, with some 33,000 souls. The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon (who really had his see at Mossul) is the chief prelate of the Chaldean Catholics, and had under nim two archbishops (of Diarbekir and Kerkuk) and nine bishops (of Amadia, Gezireh, Mardin, Mossul, Sakou, Salmas, Seert, Sena, and Urmiah). The number of Chaldean Catholics was estimated in 1913 at about 70,000, while the corresponding schismatic Nestorian Church had about 140,000.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:50:15 ZULU