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Chaldean Synod: Bishops to Present Pope With Reformed Liturgy

Rome (AsiaNews) --- The final version of the reformed liturgy of the Chaldean Church will be presented to the Pope tomorrow morning. The Holy Father will also receive all the Chaldean bishops who are currently taking part in their Church's special synod that began on November 8 in Rome.

This synod comes seven months after the last one that took place in a Baghdad. Its focus was almost exclusively on the liturgy and private law, overshadowing more political issues that some bishops had highlighted in the period leading up to it.

"There was no way of discussing anything else," a source close to the synod told AsiaNews. "Reforming the liturgy was the main issue. We had been working on it for seven years and everyone expected the meeting to come up with final version."

Mgr Rabban al-Qas, Bishop of Amadiyah (northern Iraq), also took part in the sessions. He confirmed this version of the events.

"At the beginning of each session, we spoke a little of the situation in our country, but the issue that took most of our attention was religious, not political," he said.

"We are working on reforming the mass, and then we'll propose a new liturgy for feast and week days. Once the Vatican approves it, it will be implemented on a trial basis for three years in various dioceses," he explained.

A source involved in the synod said that the proposed changes "aim to maintain the tradition whilst introducing modern elements for pastoral purposes".

Mass will have a "more organic structure" preserving changes made over the centuries, and adding new words to some moments like the anaphor.

"With the Vatican's green light, the new mass will be gradually explained to the faithful and priests. A trial period will then begin at the parish level and the process will end with a new synod vetting whatever problems that may emerge and deciding a definitive version," the same source said.

From what Bishop al-Qas's said, it would appear that some of the issues that seemed urgent to some bishops before the synod had to take the back seat.

In a recent interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Louis Sako, Archbishop of Kirkuk, had stressed the need to discuss at a synod level how the Church might take courage and propose a direct line of communication with the government, how it might deal with Christian emigration, and how it can cope with the "growing proselytising activities of Evangelical Churches in Iraq".

Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly spoke on relations between Christians and the government, saying that they were good. "The fact that the President [Jalal Talabani] came here to see his Christian compatriots is proof of that. We are one people and must not be divided by confessional labels," the Patriarch said.

Still, as Christmas approaches threats to the security of the Christian community increase. December 7 of last year two bomb attacks were carried out against two Chaldean churches in Mosul.

Mosul's Bishop, Mgr Rahho, who attended the synod, said however that "we shall remain unmoved in our churches and face any danger that may come our way."

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