Chaldean Church’s Turmoil in Melbourne, Australia
Posted By: Shamiram Daniali (adsl-69-225-47-32.dsl.skt2ca.pacbell.net)
Date: Wednesday, 9 July 2008, at 7:44 p.m.
The Chaldean Church in Melbourne, Australia is going through rough times due to some recent problems and disagreements raised between their new Bishop, Mar Gabriel Kassab, and four priests of the Melbourne parish.
According to the priests, Bishop Kassab is trying to have a complete control over the monies and affairs of the said parish and demanded the transfer of the money to his central account in Sydney, where he is building a new bishopric (residence) for the Diocese. The priests and a good number of parishioners rejected the transfer saying that the money belongs to the local parish, which they have worked for years to save and they do pay monthly installments on the loan against the church property. The loan is with the Catholic Fund, and the Catholic Church controls the property; not the Chaldean Church as all other properties outside Iraq and the Middle East.
Few Sundays ago, the Bishop informed the Melbourne priests that he is going to visit their parish to discuss the matter and threatened action against those who object to his will. The Bishop, with a local member of his diocese in Sydney, accompanied by a lawyer went to Melbourne. To their surprise, they discovered that there was no welcoming committee or any priests, parishioner or committee member to greet the Bishop. All doors to the Church, offices and other buildings were locked. He waited for hours outside the church but no one showed up. He then called the local Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne who told the Bishop that the priests had no right to do such thing. Bishop Kassab called the local police and a locksmith and broke the locks to the office and went inside. Few minutes later the priests and some members of the Parish showed up. The Bishop received insults from the members, and his car was attacked. He in turn said to them (according to some locals), that they are disrespectful people and without honor (be-sharaf) for leaving the Bishop outside the church in the cold weather. This statement drew insults and foul language from the members against the Bishop and it was a very bad scene. The Bishop threatened that he will take actions against the priests and all those who sided with them.
The local Archbishop of the Australian Catholic Church in Melbourne issued a letter suspending Rev. Fr Khalid of the Melbourne parish. Fr Khalid left Melbourne and went back to his parent’s home in Sydney. The news of the suspension traveled amongst the members and they got very angry at the Archbishop who suspended the priest and they threatened to demonstrate in front of his Church.
One of the priests, Fr Mahir, who was apologetic and sided with Bishop Kassab, is labeled Ehoda Skharyoota by the rest of the community. They allege that it was him who delivered the accounts of Sydney to the control of the new Bishop. They also allege that Bishop Kassab did not approve of the previous priest’s action in Sydney, Fr Zuhair Toma, who served the Chaldean community in Australia for almost 30 years. Fr Toma now serves the parish in Detroit.
Last Sunday, few buses filled with members traveled to the Archdiocese and demonstrated in front of the Church to show their opposition against the suspension and demanded the removal of Bishop Kassab. The Catholic Archbishop refused to meet with them, so they delivered a letter of demand through his secretary.
The priests in Melbourne are against the Bishop. The Bishop had no authority to suspend the priest; therefore he turned to the local Archbishop. The rest of the priests called Patriarch Delly to complain, but his answer was that he couldn’t help because this is outside his jurisdiction.
The situation is very tense. The community is split and the priests are threatening to resign unless Kassab is removed. The allegations between both sides are continuing. The Arabic website, www.kaldo-kaldaya.9f.com is full of accusation and alleged misappropriations of funds by Bishop Kassab.
Soro, can you come up with some solution to assist the Bishop in Melbourne? How about some lessons in accountability?!!
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