March 21, 2000
volume 11, no. 57
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Refused to Follow Nestorius, Who Denied Mary's Divine Maternity

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 20 (ZENIT.org).- The inhabitants of the land of Abraham, patriarch of the three great monotheistic religions, today's Iraq, celebrated their special Jubilee in Rome today near Peter.

    The Hadu tribe or Chaldeans of the Aramean family arrived in Mesopotamia at the beginning of the first millennium before Christ. They abandoned their nomadic life and settled in the cities of the area where Babylon was later established, which at the time was subject to Assyria. Among these cities was Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham's home town. The Chaldeans lost power toward the middle of the millennium and were subsequently conquered by the Persian and Macedonian Empires. However, the present day inhabitants of the area ethnically have little to do with those ancient Chaldeans, as the region was constantly invaded and today is predominantly Arab (71%) and Muslim in religion (95.5%). The Chaldean Church represents the great majority (80%) of the 580,000 Iraqi Christians.

    The Holy Father had to give up the idea of traveling to Abraham's birthplace, cradle of our civilization, because there were no real possibilities of guaranteeing his security in a country where air traffic is still prohibited, and bombings by British-U.S. Air Forces are sporadically endured. Moreover, the attempts by Saddam Hussein's regime to manipulate the papal visit for political reasons complicated the picture even more. So the Chaldeans themselves decided to come on pilgrimage to Rome to recreate the atmosphere for the Holy Father.

    A numerous delegation from this ancient Church came to Rome led by their Patriarch, Raphael I Bidawid. During the audience with the Pope, a group of religious and faithful waved an Iraqi flag and greeted the Pontiff's words with thunderous applause, especially when he referred to the wealth of the Chaldean Church's spiritual tradition, and his great joy to have Patriarch Rafael of Babylon visit the Vatican.

    The Chaldean Church is one of the principal Eastern Christian communities that did not adhere to the Nestorian heresy, denounced at the Council of Ephesus in 431. This was the third ecumenical Council, which debated the question as to whether or not Christ was essentially one with God the Father, whether the Holy Spirit was equal to the other two persons of the Trinity, and Mary's role as Mother of God. The followers of Nestorius, a Syrian Bishop of Constantinople from 428-431, of the Byzantine Church, stated that there were two persons in Christ, one human and one divine, and that the Virgin Mary was the Mother of the human person, and not of the divine Christ. Nestorius was denounced by the Council of Ephesus. ZE00032005


March 21, 2000
volume 11, no. 57

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