Media Watch

Chaldean Catholics Left Out In Iraq

INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC NEWS, Sept. 17 — The 19 Chaldean Catholic bishops of occupied Iraq have called on U.S. administrator Paul Bremer to insist that Catholics be included in any new government of that country.

The provisional government council, appointed by the United States, includes representatives of every other major religious and ethnic group — but not Chaldean Catholics, Independent Catholic News reported.

The bishops noted that Chaldeans are the third-largest ethnic group in the country — after the much more numerous Arabs and Kurds — and that they represent one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, speaking Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The council does have an Assyrian Christian among its 25 members, but the bishops warned that the minimal Christian presence in the nascent government could push Iraq in the direction of becoming a radical Islamic state.

One Chaldean bishop, Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad, complained to the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana that U.S. occupiers have shown little respect for Iraqis' culture or well-being. He called life in that country “unlivable,” pointing to the lack of drinking water, gas and electricity.

“A single day's blackout in New York mobilized everyone,” the bishop noted, “but nobody is concerned after five months without energy in Baghdad.”

Christians Welcome Peace in Moluccas

FIDES, Sept. 17 — Peace is returning to the Indonesian Moluccas Islands after months of bloody fighting between Christian and Islamic militias, Bishop Petrus Mandagi of Amboina told Fides, the Vatican missionary news service.

“The Moluccas are starting a new life,” he said. “There is a new atmosphere of confidence and hope. People realize that no good can come of conflict and violence. I am confident that a lasting peace agreement will soon be reached.”

The Indonesian government recently lifted a state of emergency, which had lasted almost three years in the war-torn region. It had been imposed after attacks by Islamic zealots from the Lakar Jihad Islamic fundamentalist group, Fides said. Fighting left some 15,000 people dead and 500,000 homeless.

Bishop Mandagi warned that outside forces promoting Islamic fundamentalism stood ready to re-ignite the conflict and must be restrained by the Indonesian government.

Pacific Priests Call for Justice

MISSIONARY NEWS SERVICE, Sept. 19 — Priests of the Solomon Islands have asked the government of that archipelago to re-establish law and order and punish insurgents, Missionary News Service reported.

Before the arrival of Australian-led peacekeeping forces, the Islands were the scene of widespread political violence, ranging from abductions to killings. Victims included Salesian Father Augustine Geve.

Some 22 priests met from Sept. 16-18, conferring with police and other authorities, before issuing a formal call for justice to be done.