Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The passing of His Eminence Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly

At the age of 86 years old, His Eminence Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly passed away on 8 April 2014 in San Diego, California. His Holiness Pope Francis issued a telegram on 9 April 2014 stating:

"I offer you, the clergy, men and women religious and lay faithful of the Patriarchate, both in Iraq and in the diaspora, my condolences and the assurance of my prayers. I recall with deep gratitude the late Patriarch’s dedication to his people and to the promotion of respectful, just and peaceful relations with followers of other religious traditions." 

Throughout several countries of the world many began to mourn the loss of one of the greatest leaders of the Chaldean Catholic Church, who suffered immensely during his time as Patriarch. As Our Lord carried his Cross with immense love for His people, Mar Emmanuel too followed in the footsteps of Our Lord, carrying his Cross for the great love he held for the Chaldean Church and the people of Iraq.

Ordained a priest in 1952 His Eminence served the Church for over 64 years. During those years His Eminence worked tirelessly for the Chaldean Church and Iraq, he sought to restore the peace among Christians and Muslims through his respect and cooperation of other churches and faiths. As a Bishop for 42 years, His Eminence contributed significantly to the growth of the Chaldean Church both in Iraq and in the diaspora, such as through the establishment of the College of Babylon, an institute of philosophy and theology. For this work, His Eminence was appointed as Cardinal during 2007 by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

During the dark times of the Church holiness is needed even more (Pope Francis, 2014). His Eminence held the seat of Babylon during one of the darkest periods of the Chaldean Catholic Church at a time of religious and political unrest. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq led to the rise of Islamic extremism which left innocent Christians subject to and the targets of terrorist attacks. His Eminence was forced to bury many of his martyred priests and religious, such as the late Mar Paulos Faroj Rahho and Abouna Ragheed Ganni. 

'The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church (Tertullian).' Through suffering we too will be glorified, and the prolific witness of Iraq's many martyrs brought to the Chaldean Church an outpouring of religious vocations. Iraq's martyrs remained as a role model for those in Iraq who despite still living in fear of persecution, chose to remain in their native homeland. Despite the burden this placed on His Eminence as a result of living through these tragic events, this did not overwhelm him rather his faith in God, Mary and the wounds of Christ proved more powerful.

The life of His Eminence Cardinal Mar Emmanuel II Delly is one of great suffering, as a servant of Christ, His Eminence truly imitated the life of Christ by carrying His Cross - a heavy burden of pain and suffering till the end. The Iraqi people will be inspired by his courageous witness to follow his example, as a man of holiness who lived for others, for love and for truth.

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