Iraq Takes Pride in New Native Cardinal
Patriarch Mar Emanuel III Delli, the Baghdad-based head of the Chaldean Church, was ordained into the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican today, and the whole event was carried live by Iraq’s national television station for well over an hour.
Al-Iraqiyya TV’s caption for the event was ‘The Symbols of Iraq’ and at one point the camera focused on a man in the audience holding up the Iraqi flag just as Cardinal Delli was named.
It was a very moving ceremony, and it was especially refreshing to find Iraq’s official media highlighting the event and describing the Chaldean patriarch as a national ‘symbol’. The channel even skipped the Muslim midday call to prayer in order to keep transmitting the proceedings, which were conducted in Latin but were translated into Arabic by a presenter.
This is the power of the New Iraq whereby a predominately Muslim nation takes pride in its Mosul-born son making it to one of the highest bodies of the Roman Catholic Church.
Some assume that the Saddam regime was accommodating of Iraq’s Christians, citing Saddam’s foreign minister Tareq Aziz as an example of that trait. But Aziz’s original name was too ‘Christian’ sounding so he Arabized it in order to be accepted. Hence, Christians were tolerated under Saddam’s Iraq, while nowadays their accomplishments are being positively celebrated by the New Iraq. That’s a world of difference.
I have to admit that I choked up when I saw the Iraqi flag being waved, but it is still the Ba’athist Arab Nationalist flag with the ‘Allah is Great’ slogan—Saddam’s addition—inscribed upon it. Isn’t it odd that such a flag was being displayed inside St. Peter’s? Doesn’t Iraq deserve a flag that wouldn’t grate against the sensitivities of its non-Muslim citizens?
Congratulations to Patriarch Delli and the Chaldeans and to all Iraqis on this day. What a stark contrast this New Iraq presents to a xenophobic states like Saudi Arabia and other racist regimes in the region!