Arabs advised to protect religion of their new European properties

Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, the apostolic customer for Chaldean Catholics in Europe warns their non secular heritage is ‘at risk’

Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, the apostolic customer for Chaldean Catholics in Europe. (Picture: Aleteia)

Printed: November 05, 2022 05:25 AM GMT

Up to date: November 05, 2022 05:30 AM GMT

Chatting with a younger Syrian college scholar through the church espresso hour, Joumana expressed frustration with a side of Swedish society — its secularism.

The 21-year-old and her household fled Damascus for the protection of this leafy metropolis, some 100 miles southwest of Stockholm, to flee the battle and sectarian violence engulfing Syria greater than a decade in the past. And whereas they recognize the bodily safety their new homeland provides, Joumana says she struggles with the ridicule and lack of non secular curiosity by her friends.

“They inform me, ‘Why do you consider in God, in Christianity? That’s such an old style idea,” the social work scholar advised Catholic Information Service. “Once I take into consideration the longer term, I do not need to increase a household in a godless tradition. So, I together with some 20 others at college, have determined to satisfy weekly on campus for a prayer time and Bible examine to encourage one another in our Christian religion.”

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Bishop Saad Sirop Hanna, the apostolic customer for Chaldean Catholics in Europe, mentioned he understands the considerations of Arab Christians now sheltering in Europe. He warns that their wealthy non secular heritage of the Japanese church buildings and that of their Chaldean and Assyrian traditions are “at risk,” and these should be preserved and fostered of their adopted house nations.

“I need to inform my individuals right here in Sweden and Chaldeans in all places to carry agency to our religion and traditions as Chaldeans. Now we have to be happy with our traditions. Now we have so many lovely issues: the liturgy, our spirituality, the fathers of religion within the Chaldean Church. Now we have to contribute to the Catholic religion and be witnesses of our religion in our society,” Bishop Hanna advised CNS by cellphone from his base in Swedish metropolis of Södertälje, about 19 miles southwest of Stockholm.

Bishop Hanna hails from Iraq and skilled as an aeronautical engineer earlier than getting into the priesthood. He continued his research on the Pontifical Gregorian College in Rome and obtained a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2008. However two years earlier than incomes his doctorate, he was kidnapped by militants in Baghdad whereas celebrating Mass. For 28 days, he was tortured in a bid to pressure him to surrender Christ, however he mentioned it was his religion that helped him maintain on till his launch.

He now shepherds a big and far-flung flock of some 100,000 Chaldean Catholics in 10 nations all through Europe, the place the largest Chaldean communities are present in Sweden, Germany and France, whereas smaller ones are in Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and different Scandinavian nations. Sweden has the biggest quantity, with as much as 35,000 Chaldean Catholics dwelling in 12 cities, together with Norrköping.

Bishop Hanna defined the dilemma that Japanese Christians discover in Europe.

“There’s a large distinction within the cultural and social views for our individuals who come from the Center East and from these Oriental church buildings to those secular societies,” he mentioned, including that there’s additionally an enormous distinction within the “mentality, the way in which of addressing points, and the way non secular values are utilized in our social life.”

“So many households are affected by this as a result of they’re used to exercising and declaring publicly their religion of their nations of origin, however after they come right here there isn’t any discuss of faith, you can not discuss God at school or on the street,” he mentioned of what theologians have termed “post-Christian Europe.”

Bishop Hanna mentioned typically in European societies, the goal is to have individuals dwell as equals and for faith to be thought of as a personal and private matter. However what occurs when a Christian is requested about who they’re and what they consider, he requested. He mentioned at faculties or in different social areas, Arab Christians could also be requested by these in authority “not to talk about Jesus or their religion as a result of it’s not necessary.”

“So, the training and formation of religion could be very tough right here. For a lot of youngsters or youth, the one place the place they will discuss or train their religion and be educated in it’s within the church or at house,” he mentioned. The problem for some households is the lengthy hours of college or work that make it tough at occasions to attend church. “However we attempting to do our greatest to achieve these youngsters and younger individuals, speaking with the brand new technology and educating them of their religion.”

One other issue that Chaldean Catholics face is the shortage of a particular diocese for the group in addition to steady church assembly locations and hours of worship, together with Mass occasions.

There is just one devoted Chaldean Catholic church in Sweden, the Virgin Mary Chaldean Catholic church in Södertälje.

“That is the primary church, however we now have 12 totally different facilities all through Sweden for Chaldeans with out church buildings. We borrow different church buildings to have fun the Mass,” however the occasions obtainable for such gatherings could make attending onerous for the Chaldean Catholics.

Nonetheless, Bishop Hanna praises the native Catholic dioceses and Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius for his or her help. “The cardinal right here could be very open and superb with the Chaldean church and the opposite Catholics from Oriental church buildings. And the dioceses try. However there are points that we now have to take care of,” he mentioned.

For that reason, Bishop Hanna is urging for the creation of a diocese devoted to Chaldean Catholics.

“I want to see a diocese the place we will train our religion and comply with our individuals appropriately. The character of religion that folks from the Center East carry of their hearts is kind of totally different from right here in the way of life out that religion and attempting to transmit that religion to others,” Bishop Hanna defined.

“Whereas we have to be taught from the native dioceses so many issues, we additionally want a spot in a correct method to comply with our individuals, to attempt to embrace them once more contained in the church. However we’re restricted within the sources at present obtainable,” he mentioned.

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