|Independence Apostolic Era||Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq|
|Founder Traces ultimate origins to Thomas the Apostle, Addai and Mari; emerged from the Church of the East in 1830|
Recognition Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches
Primate Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako
Territory Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Georgia, Sweden, United Kingdom
The Chaldean Catholic Church (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ, ʿīdtha kaldetha qāthuliqetha; Arabic: الكنيسة الكلدانية al-Kanīsa al-kaldāniyya) is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, under the Holy See of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Babylon, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church. The Chaldean Catholic Church presently comprises around 500,000 people. Most Chaldo-Assyrians live in northern Iraq, with smaller numbers in adjacent areas in northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, a region roughly corresponding with what was Assyria between the 25th century BC and mid-7th century AD. There are also Chaldeans in the diaspora, primarily in the American states of Michigan, Illinois and California.
- Before its founding
- Turning Point of The Eastern Church
- 1552 founding by Yohannan Sulaqa
- 1672 The Josephite line of Amid
- The Alqosh Patriarchate in communion with Rome
- 19th century expansion and disaster
- 21st century eparchies around the world
- Persecution in Iraq and Syria
- Ecumenical relations
- Historic Church censuses
- Naming issues
Despite being known as "Chaldeans", their followers are generally accepted to be one and the same as the indigenous Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrians, although a minority of Chaldeans (particularly in the United States) have in recent times began to espouse an identity from the land of Chaldea, extant in south east Mesopotamia between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, despite there being no accredited academic study or historical record which supports this.
In addition to this church, other ethnically Assyrian Churches include The Assyrian Church of the East, The Ancient Church of the East, The Syriac Orthodox Church, The Syriac Catholic Church, The Assyrian Pentecostal Church and The Assyrian Evangelical Church.
Before its founding
The history of the Chaldean Church begins with the Assyrian Church of the East, founded between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD in Assyria (Persian ruled Athura/Assuristan), and also with the ethnoreligious group known as Assyrians who adhere to the Chaldean Catholic Church, and at least eleven other Assyrian, Chaldean, or Syriac denominations. In the 5th century BC, the region of Assyria was the birthplace of the Syriac language and Syriac script, and both of which remain important within all strands of Syriac Christianity as a liturgical language, similar to how Latin or Koine Greek may be used in Catholicism or Greek Orthodoxy. The Church of the East was an Apostolic church established by Thomas the Apostle, Thaddeus of Edessa, and Bartholomew the Apostle. Saint Peter, chief of the apostles, added his blessing to the Church of the East at the time of his visit to the See at Babylon in the earliest days of the church when stating, "The elect church which is in Babylon, salutes you; and Mark, my son." (1 Peter 5:13).
Although founded in the 1st century, the Church first achieved official state recognition from Sasanian Iran in the fourth century with the accession of Yazdegerd I (reigned 399–420) to the throne of the Sasanian Empire. In 410 the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, held at the Sasanian capital, allowed the Church's leading bishops to elect a formal Catholicos (leader). Catholicos Isaac was required both to lead the Assyrian Christian community, and to answer on its behalf to the Sasanian emperor.
Under pressure from the Sasanian Emperor, the Church of the East sought to increasingly distance itself from the Greek Orthodox Church (at the time being known as the church of the Eastern Roman Empire). Therefore, In 424, the bishops of the Sasanian Empire met in council under the leadership of Catholicos Dadishoʿ (421–456) and determined that they would not, henceforth, refer disciplinary or theological problems to any external power, and especially not to any bishop or Church Council in the Roman Empire.
Thus, the Mesopotamian churches did not send representatives to the various Church Councils attended by representatives of the "Western" Church. Accordingly, the leaders of the Church of the East did not feel bound by any decisions of what came to be regarded as Roman Imperial Councils. Despite this, the Creed and Canons of the First Council of Nicaea of 325, affirming the full divinity of Christ, were formally accepted at the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The Church's understanding of the term hypostasis differs from the definition of the term offered at the Council of Chalcedon of 451. For this reason, the Assyrian Church has never approved the Chalcedonian definition.
The theological controversy that followed the Council of Ephesus in 431 proved a turning point in the Church's history. The Council condemned as heretical the Christology of Nestorius, whose reluctance to accord the Virgin Mary the title Theotokos "God-bearer, Mother of God" was taken as evidence that he believed two separate persons (as opposed to two united natures) to be present within Christ. (For the theological issues at stake, see Assyrian Church of the East and Nestorianism.)
The Sasanian Emperor, hostile to the Byzantines, saw the opportunity to ensure the loyalty of his Christian subjects and lent support to the Nestorian Schism. The Emperor took steps to cement the primacy of the Nestorian party within the Church of the East, granting its members his protection, and executed the pro-Roman Catholicos Babowai in 484 and replaced him with the Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis, Barsauma. The Catholicos-Patriarch Babai (497–503) later confirmed the churches support for Nestorianism.
After this split with the Western World and adoption of Nestorianism, The Assyrian Church of the East expanded rapidly due to missionary works during the Medieval period. During the period between 500–1400 the geographical horizons of the Church of the East extended well beyond its heartland in present-day northern Iraq, north eastern Syria and south eastern Turkey. The Church went through a golden age, and held significant power and worldwide influence during this period. Assyrian communities sprang up throughout Central Asia, and missionaries from Assyria and Mesopotamia took the Christian faith as far as China, with a primary indicator of their missionary work being the Nestorian Stele, a Tang dynasty tablet written in Chinese script found in China dating to 781 AD that documented 150 years of Christian history in China. Their most important conversion, however, was of the Saint Thomas Christians of the Malabar Coast in India, as they are now the largest group of non ethnically Assyrian Christians on earth, with around 10 million followers when all denominations are added together and their own diaspora is included. The St Thomas Christians were believed by tradition to have been converted by St Thomas, and were in communion with the Church of the East until the end of the medieval period.
Turning Point of The Eastern Church
Around 1400 AD, the Turco-Mongol nomadic conqueror Timur arose out of the Eurasian Steppe to lead military campaigns across Western, Southern and Central Asia, ultimately seizing much of the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire, and the declining Delhi Sultanate. Timur's conquests devastated most Assyrian bishoprics and destroyed the 4000-year-old city of Assur, which was the cultural and religious capital of the Assyrian Church of the East and its followers. After the destruction brought on by Timur, the massive and organized Nestorian Church structure, which at its peak extended as far as China, Central Asia, Mongolia and India, was largely reduced to the small region of Assyria, its place of origin (with the exception of the St Thomas Christians in India) – and went from a world religion to one practiced almost exclusively in the Assyrian Triangle by its founding ethnic group the Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian people, and stayed as such until the Assyrian genocide, when a large portion of the Assyrian homeland in the Hakkari mountains was ethnically and culturally cleansed of its endemic Assyrian population entirely, and in effect also ended the Shimun Branch, which had to reestablished itself in America up until 2015 when they established their new see in Erbil. Along with the destruction of the Hakkari cultural region, The Assyrians of Tur Abdin, Amid, Urfa and other regions of the southeast suffered genocide as well, but due to an agreement with the Turks, the Syriac Orthodox Church was able to exist in the region after the end of the genocide, and a Syriac community still exists in Turkey til this day, and is the most geographically spread out Church still functioning in Turkey, with active churches in Adiyaman, Siirt, Istanbul, and its primary area of operation and seat at Mor Gabriel Monastery in Tur Abdin.
This blow by Timur to the structure of The Assyrian Church of the East may have been one of the reasons for its decline, and subsequent rise of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1552.
1552: founding by Yohannan Sulaqa
Dissent over the hereditary succession grew until 1552, when a group of Assyrian bishops, from the northern regions of Amid and Salmas, elected a priest, Mar Yohannan Sulaqa, as a rival patriarch. To look for a bishop of metropolitan rank to consecrate him patriarch, Sulaqa traveled to the pope in Rome and entered into communion with the Catholic Church, after first being refused by the Syriac Orthodox Church. In 1553 he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the rank of patriarch taking the name of Mar Shimun VIII. He was granted the title of "Patriarch of the East Assyrians", and his church was named The Church of Athura and Mosul.
Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to northern Mesopotamia in the same year and fixed his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by the partisans of the Assyrian Church of the East patriarch of Alqosh, he ordained five metropolitan bishops thus beginning a new ecclesiastical hierarchy: the patriarchal line known as the Shimun line. The area of influence of this patriarchate soon moved from Amid east, fixing the See, after many places, in the isolated Assyrian village of Qochanis.
The connections with Rome loosened up under Sulaqa's successors: The last patriarch to be formally recognized by the Pope died in 1600, the hereditary status of the office was reintroduced and, in 1692, the communion with Rome was formally broken, with this part of the church once more rejoining the Assyrian Church of the East.
1672: The Josephite line of Amid
After the Shimun line cut off ties with Rome and re-established itself in Qodchanis, A second so-called 'Chaldean' Patriarchate began a few decades later in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, Archbishop of Amid, entered in communion with Rome, separating from the Assyrian Church Patriarchal see of Alqosh (of which his territory was formerly a part). In 1681 the Holy See granted him the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its patriarch."
All Joseph I's successors took the name of Joseph. However, The life of this patriarchate was difficult. At the beginning there were problems due to the vexations from the traditionalists, under which they were subject from a legal point of view, and later it struggled with financial difficulties due to the Jizya imposed by the Ottoman authorities upon Christian subjects.
Nevertheless, its influence expanded from its original strongholds in Amid (modern Diyarbakir) and Mardin towards the area of Mosul and the Nineveh plains. The Josephite line merged in 1830 with the Nestorian Alqosh patriarchate. In order to do this, the Alqosh patriarchate entered into full communion with Rome, and the two Chaldean patriarchates combined, and the capital was designated as Alqosh. It was from this point that the modern Chaldean Catholic Church came into being.
The Alqosh Patriarchate in communion with Rome
The largest and oldest patriarchal see of the Assyrian Church of the East was based at the Rabban Hormizd monastery of Alqosh. It spread from Aqrah up to Seert and Nisibis, covering in the south the rich plain of Mosul. In the short period between 1610 and 1617 it entered in communion with Rome, and in 1771 the patriarch Eliya Denkha signed a Catholic confession of faith, but no formal union resulted. When Eliya Denkha died, his succession was disputed by two cousins: Eliyya Isho-Yab, who was recognized by Rome but renounced his Catholic faith, and Yohannan Hormizd, who, although unrecognized by Rome, considered himself a Catholic.
In 1804, after Eliyya Isho-Yab's death, Yohannan Hormizd was made by default the patriarch of Alqosh. There were thus two patriarchates in communion with Rome now, the larger one in Alqosh, and the original one in Amid that was ruled by Augustine (Yousef V) Hindi. However, Rome did not want to choose between the two candidates: and granted neither the title of Patriarch, even though from 1811 it was Augustine Hindi who ruled the Church de facto. After Hindi's death, on July 5, 1830, Yohannan Hormizd of the Alqosh line was by default formally confirmed Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic church by Pope Pius VIII with the title of "Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans." In this act, The merging of the patriarchates of Alqosh and Amid was completed, forming a single Chaldean Catholic Church.
On the other hand, the Shimun line of patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained in the traditional Assyrian church, independent of the new Chaldean Church. When the large Alqosh branch took a Catholic profession of faith, the Shimun line remained the sole remaining Nestorian patriarchate left. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its See in Erbil, forms the continuation of that line.
19th century: expansion and disaster
The following years of the Chaldean Church were marked by externally originating violence: in 1838 the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the town of Alqosh was attacked by the Ottomans and the Kurds of Soran, and hundreds of Christian Assyrians died. In 1843 the Kurds started to extort as much money as they could from Assyrian villages, killing those who refused: more than 10,000 Assyrian Christians of all denominations were killed and the icons of the Rabban Hormizd monastery defaced.
In 1846 the Chaldean Church was recognized by the Ottoman Empire as a 'millet', a distinctive 'religious community' in the Empire, thus obtaining its civic emancipation. The most famous patriarch of the Chaldean Church in the 19th century was Joseph VI Audo who is remembered also for his clashes with Pope Pius IX mainly about his attempts to extend the Chaldean jurisdiction over the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. This was a period of expansion for the Chaldean Catholic Church.
In the early 20th century Russian Orthodox missionaries established two dioceses in north Assyria. Many Assyrian leaders believed that the Russian Empire would be more interested in protecting them than the British Empire and the French Empire. Hoping for the support of the Russians, World War I and the subsequent Assyrian Genocide (which saw the deaths of up to 300,000 Assyrians of all denominations) was seen as the right time to rebel against the Ottoman Empire. An Assyrian War of Independence was launched, led by Agha Petros and Malik Khoshaba. On 4 November 1914 the Turkish Enver Pasha announced the Jihad, the holy war, against the Christians. Assyrian forces fought successfully against overwhelming odds in northern Iraq, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran for a time. However, the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the collapse of Armenian resistance left the Assyrians cut off from supplies of food and ammunition, vastly outnumbered and surrounded. Assyrian territories were overrun by the Ottoman Empire and their Kurdish and Arab allies, and the people forced to flee: most who escaped the massacres and continuation of the Assyrian Genocide died from cold in the winter or hunger. The disaster struck mainly the regions of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean dioceses in north Assyria (Amid, Siirt and Gazarta) were ruined (the Chaldeans metropolitans Addai Scher of Siirt and Philip Abraham of Gazarta were killed in 1915).
A further massacre occurred in 1933 at the hands of the Iraqi Army, in the form of the Simele massacre, which resulted in thousands of deaths.
A minority of Assyrians have converted to Protestantism during the 20th century, leaving the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Syriac Orthodox church in favour of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church.
21st century: eparchies around the world
A recent development in the Chaldean Catholic Church has been the creation in 2006 of the Eparchy of Oceania, with the title of 'St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans'. This jurisdiction includes the Chaldean Catholic communities of Australia and New Zealand, and the first Bishop, named by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2006, is Archbishop Djibrail (Jibrail) Kassab, until this date, Archbishop of Bassorah in Iraq.
There has been a large immigration to the United States particularly to southeast Michigan. Although the largest population resides in southeast Michigan, there are populations in parts of California and Arizona as well. Canada in recent years has shown growing communities in both eastern provinces, such as Ontario, and in western Canada, such as Saskatchewan.
In 2008, Mar Bawai Soro of the Assyrian Church of the East and 1,000 Assyrian families were received into full communion with the Chaldean Catholic Church from the Assyrian Church of the East.
On Friday, June 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI erected a new Chaldean Catholic eparchy in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and named Archbishop Mar Yohannan Zora, who has worked alongside four priests with Catholics in Toronto (the largest community of Chaldeans) for nearly 20 years and who was previously an ad personam Archbishop (he will retain this rank as head of the eparchy) and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese (Archeparchy) of Ahwaz, Iran (since 1974). The new eparchy, or diocese, will be known as the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai. There are 38,000 Chaldean Catholics in Canada. Archbishop Zora was born in Batnaia, Iraq, on March 15, 1939. He was ordained in 1962 and worked in Iraqi parishes before being transferred to Iran in 1969.
The 2006 Australian census counted a total of 4,498 Chaldean Catholics in that country.
Persecution in Iraq and Syria
Assyrians of all denominations, and other religious minorities in Iraq, have endured extensive persecution since 2003, including the abductions and murders of their religious leaders, threats of violence or death if they do not abandon their homes and businesses, and the bombing or destruction of their churches and other places of worship. All this has occurred as anti-Christian emotions rise within Iraq after the American invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the rise of militant Jihadists and religious militias.
Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, the pastor of the Chaldean Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul who graduated from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome in 2003 with a licentiate in ecumenical theology, was killed on 3 June 2007 in Mosul alongside the subdeacons Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, and Gassan Isam Bidawed, after he celebrated mass.
Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho and three companions were abducted on 29 February 2008, in Mosul, and murdered a few days later.
In recent years, particularly since 2014, the Assyrians in northern Iraq and north east Syria have become the target of unprovoked Islamic terrorism. As a result, Assyrians have taken up arms, alongside other groups (such as the Kurds, Turcomans and Armenians) in response to unprovoked attacks by Al Qaeda, ISIL, Nusra Front, and other Wahhabi terrorist Islamic fundamentalist groups. In 2014 Islamic terrorists of ISIS attacked Assyrian towns and villages in the Assyrian homelands of northern Iraq and north east Syria, together with cities such as Mosul, Kirkuk and Hasakeh which have large Assyrian populations. There have been reports of a litany of religiously motivated atrocities committed by ISIS terrorists since, including; slavery, beheadings, crucifixions, child murders, rape of women and girls, torture, forced conversions, ethnic cleansing, robbery, kidnappings, theft of homes, and extortion in the form of illegal taxes levied upon non Muslims. Assyrians forced from their homes in cities such as Mosul have had their houses and possessions stolen, and given over to ISIS terrorists or local Sunni Arabs.
In addition, the Assyrians have suffered seeing their ancient indigenous heritage desecrated, in the form of Bronze Age and Iron Age monuments and archaeological sites, as well as numerous Assyrian churches and monasteries, being systematically vandalised and destroyed by ISIS. These include the ruins of Nineveh, Kalhu (Nimrud, Assur, Dur-Sharrukin and Hatra.
Assyrians of all denominations in both northern Iraq and north east Syria have responded by forming armed Assyrian militias to defend their territories, and despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned have had success in driving ISIS from Assyrian towns and villages, and defending others from attack. Armed Assyrian militias have also joined forces with other peoples persecuted by ISIS and Sunni Muslim extremists, including; the Kurds, Turcoman, Yezidis, Syriac-Aramean Christians, Shabaks, Armenian Christians, Kawilya, Mandeans, Circassians and Shia Muslim Arabs and Iranians.
The Church's relations with its fellow Assyrians in the Assyrian Church of the East have improved in recent years. In 1994 Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East signed a Common Christological Declaration. On the 20 July 2001, the Holy See issued a document, in agreement with the Assyrian Church of the East, named Guidelines for admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, which confirmed also the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.
The Chaldean Catholic Church has the following dioceses:
The current Patriarch is Louis Sako, elected in January 2013. In October 2007, his predecessor, Emmanuel III Delly became the first Chaldean Catholic patriarch to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal within the Catholic Church.
The present Chaldean episcopate (January 2014) is as follows:
Several sees are vacant: Archeparchy of Diyarbakir, Archeparchy of Ahwaz, Eparchy of 'Aqra, Eparchy of Cairo.
Historic Church censuses
Despite the internal discords of the reigns of Yohannan Hormizd, Nicholas I Zayʿa and Joseph VI Audo, the second half of the 19th century was a period of considerable growth for the Chaldean church, in which its territorial jurisdiction was extended, its hierarchy strengthened and its membership nearly doubled. In 1850 the Anglican missionary George Percy Badger recorded the population of the Chaldean church as 2,743 Chaldean families, or just under 20,000 persons. Badger's figures cannot be squared with the figure of just over 4,000 Chaldean families recorded by Fulgence de Sainte Marie in 1796 nor with slightly later figures provided by Paulin Martin in 1867. Badger is known to have classified as Nestorian a considerable number of villages in the ʿAqra district which were Chaldean at this period, and he also failed to include several important Chaldean villages in other dioceses. His estimate is almost certainly far too low.
Paulin Martin's statistical survey in 1867, after the creation of the dioceses of ʿAqra, Zakho, Basra and Sehna by Joseph Audo, recorded a total church membership of 70,268, more than three times higher than Badger's estimate. Most of the population figures in these statistics have been rounded up to the nearest thousand, and they may also have been exaggerated slightly, but the membership of the Chaldean church at this period was certainly closer to 70,000 than to Badger's 20,000.
A statistical survey of the Chaldean church made in 1896 by J. B. Chabot included, for the first time, details of several patriarchal vicariates established in the second half of the 19th century for the small Chaldean communities in Adana, Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Edessa, Kermanshah and Teheran; for the mission stations established in the 1890s in several towns and villages in the Qudshanis patriarchate; and for the newly created Chaldean diocese of Urmi. According to Chabot, there were mission stations in the town of Serai d’Mahmideh in Taimar and in the Hakkari villages of Mar Behıshoʿ, Sat, Zarne and 'Salamakka' (Ragula d'Salabakkan).
The last pre-war survey of the Chaldean church was made in 1913 by the Chaldean priest Joseph Tfinkdji, after a period of steady growth since 1896. The Chaldean church on the eve of the First World War consisted of the patriarchal archdiocese of Mosul and Baghdad, four other archdioceses (Amid, Kirkuk, Seert and Urmi), and eight dioceses (ʿAqra, ʿAmadiya, Gazarta, Mardin, Salmas, Sehna, Zakho and the newly created diocese of Van). Five more patriarchal vicariates had been established since 1896 (Ahwaz, Constantinople, Basra, Ashshar and Deir al-Zor), giving a total of twelve vicariates.
Tfinkdji's grand total of 101,610 Catholics in 199 villages is slightly exaggerated, as his figures included 2,310 nominal Catholics in twenty-one 'newly converted' or 'semi-Nestorian' villages in the dioceses of Amid, Seert and ʿAqra, but it is clear that the Chaldean church had grown significantly since 1896. With around 100,000 believers in 1913, the membership of the Chaldean church was only slightly smaller than that of the Qudshanis patriarchate (probably 120,000 East Syrians at most, including the population of the nominally Russian Orthodox villages in the Urmi district). Its congregations were concentrated in far fewer villages than those of the Qudshanis patriarchate, and with 296 priests, a ratio of roughly three priests for every thousand believers, it was rather more effectively served by its clergy. Only about a dozen Chaldean villages, mainly in the Seert and ʿAqra districts, did not have their own priests in 1913.
Tfinkdji's statistics also highlight the effect on the Chaldean church of the educational reforms of the patriarch Joseph VI Audo. The Chaldean church on the eve of the First World War was becoming less dependent on the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the College of the Propaganda for the education of its bishops. Seventeen Chaldean bishops were consecrated between 1879 and 1913, of whom only one (Stephen Yohannan Qaynaya) was entirely educated in the monastery of Rabban Hormizd. Six bishops were educated at the College of the Propaganda (Joseph Gabriel Adamo, Thomas Audo, Jeremy Timothy Maqdasi, Isaac Khudabakhash, Theodore Msayeh and Peter ʿAziz), and the future patriarch Joseph Emmanuel Thomas was trained in the seminary of Ghazir near Beirut. Of the other nine bishops, two (Addaï Scher and Francis David) were trained in the Syro-Chaldean seminary in Mosul, and seven (Philip Yaʿqob Abraham, Yaʿqob Yohannan Sahhar, Eliya Joseph Khayyat, Shlemun Sabbagh, Yaʿqob Awgin Manna, Hormizd Stephen Jibri and Israel Audo) in the patriarchal seminary in Mosul.
The Chaldean Catholic Church uses the East Syrian Rite.
A slight reform of the liturgy was effective since 6 January 2007, and it aimed to unify the many different uses of each parish, to remove centuries-old additions that merely imitated the Roman Rite, and for pastoral reasons. The main elements of variations are: the Anaphora said aloud by the priest, the return to the ancient architecture of the churches, the restoration of the ancient use where the bread and wine are readied before a service begins, and the removal from the Creed of the Filioque clause.
It is believed that the term "Chaldean Catholic" may have arisen due to a Latin misinterpretation and misreading of the Hebrew Ur Kasdim as meaning "Ur of the Chaldees". The Hebrew Kasdim does not mean or refer to the Chaldeans. Ur Kasdim is generally believed by many to have been somewhere in Assyria, northeastern Syria or southeastern Anatolia. It is also noteworthy that the Roman Catholic Church already had a long history of misapplication of the term Chaldean in an ethnic, historical and geographical sense; the term was used to describe 15th century Greek converts to Catholicism, and to designate the completely unrelated Chaldia in Asia Minor on the Black Sea. Rome also used the term Chaldeans to indicate the members of the Church of the East in Communion with Rome primarily in order to avoid the terms Nestorian, Assyrian and Syriac, which were theologically unacceptable, having connotations to churches doctrinally and politically at odds with The Vatican.
The term "Chaldean Catholic" is thus historically, usually and properly taken purely and solely as a doctrinal and theological term for Assyrian converts to Catholicism, without any ethnic and geographical implications.
Despite this, a minority of Chaldean Catholics (particularly in the United States) have in recent times confused a purely religious term with an ethnic identity, and espoused a separate ethnic identity, despite there being no historical, academic, cultural, geographic, archaeological, linguistic, anthropological or genetic evidence supporting a link (or any sort of Chaldean continuity) to the late Iron Age Chaldean land or people, both of which wholly disappeared from history during the 6th century BC. Chaldean Catholics are generally accepted to be Assyrian people, and a part of the Assyrian continuity.
Raphael Bidawid, the then patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church commented on the Assyrian name dispute in 2003 and clearly differentiated between the name of a church and the name of an ethnicity:"I personally think that these different names serve to add confusion. The original name of our Church was the 'Church of the East' ... When a portion of the Church of the East became Catholic in the 17th Century, the name given to the church was 'Chaldean' based on the Magi kings who were believed by some to have come from what once had been the land of the Chaldean, to Bethlehem. The name 'Chaldean' does not represent an ethnicity, just a church... We have to separate what is ethnicity and what is religion... I myself, my sect is Chaldean, but ethnically, I am Assyrian."
In an interview with the Assyrian Star in the September–October 1974 issue, he was quoted as saying:"Before I became a priest I was an Assyrian, before I became a bishop I was an Assyrian, I am an Assyrian today, tomorrow, forever, and I am proud of it."