Extraordinary Session of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Iraq
Father Sakvan Matti
The Council of Catholic Bishops of Iraq was held as an invitation from His Beatitude Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako and under his presidency in a special session on Tuesday morning, 5 November, 2013 at St. Joseph Church of the Chaldeans. Three bishops were absent from the meeting for healthand pastoralreasons.
In the beginning, His Beatitude Patriarch Sako welcomed the Reverend Bishops and explained his reasons for adopting certain decisions, particularly the abolish of ecclesiastical courts. He requested that things are to be understood in context and from the spirit of responsibility,within a comprehensive vision and not seen and interpreted narrowly. The goal is to better serve our people in truth and justice.
We should work as one team and not each one separately according to the Gospel and our pastoral call with goodwill away from "gossip" and reliance on false interpretations. He who lives in truth is not afraid, but who works outside the truth is.
Afterwards, the reverend bishops discussed the topics on the agenda smoothly and with responsibility:
1. The unified ecclesiastical courts were formed on structuredlegal grounds. The bishops adopted the structureof One Courtfor “The Beginning”, and “The Appeal” and “The Discrimination”to be based in Ankawa, Erbil, and under the supervision of Bishop Bashar Matti Warda, representative of the Council of Catholic Bishops. Currently in Baghdad, there are no courts. All appointed judges will have Bachelor of Canon law. His Beatitude the Patriarch would invite a specialized judge from Lebanon to train the staff of the new courts; also there will be workshops in the summer vacation for the bishops and the priests of the parishes for training on courts’ laws and submitting marriage claims and professional follow-up. The courts can start work immediately. Litigation solution should not be delayed more than a year and a half as requested by Pope Benedict XVI in his message to Rota (No. 5).
2. The reverend bishops discussed the ways to activate the various Council committees.
3. Review of the Document of preparation for the Synod of Bishops (the third unusual assembly): Pastoral challenges in regards to the families in the context of evangelization. The answers should reach the Patriarchate in the Max at the end of December.
4. Some suggestions were provided regarding the Patriarchs’meeting that would be held on 19-22 November with the General Committee of the Congregation for Oriental Churches,and the meeting with the Pope.
5. Select the date for the Council’s assembly, and choosing its Secretary General.
6. His Beatitude viewed the topics discussed with the His Excellency the Prime Minister in their last meeting.
7. The Reverend Bishops studied the phenomena of the current organized migration, and the tendencies of some embassies to facilitate the granting of Asylum visas. The Reverend Bishops expressed their concern. And, His Beatitude requested that this issue to be discussed with the heads of the Christian communities in Iraq and take practical measures to this subject that threatens our existence.
8. The Reverend Bishops discussed the ways of cooperation with Roaco Committee that is based at the Chaldean Diocesein Ankawa to activate some investment projects in their diocese.
The meetings ended with lunch.