By Mgr Daniel McHugh

On Saturday 17 June, members of the Chaldean Catholic Community in Birmingham gathered to welcome His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the Chaldean Church and Patriarch of Babylon, on the occasion of his visit to Birmingham Oratory.

The Cardinal is held in high regard as a key leader in the quest for peace in the Middle East. On his current visit to the UK he will be meeting Government Ministers and Parliamentarians in his quest for Christians to have a part to play in the future of Iraq as a free and open society.

It is an official visit, at the invitation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and coordinated by the British charity, Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (FACE), with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq.

His Beatitude visited the Archdiocese of Birmingham to make a private pilgrimage to the Shrine of St John Henry Newman and to attend Mass at Birmingham Oratory.

He also visited St Mary’s College, Oscott to meet Archbishop Bernard Longley and the seminarians.

In his brief reflection after the Gospel the Cardinal spoke movingly of the persecution of Christians in his homeland; many have fled abroad to escape the violence.

Another objective of his visit is to encourage the Chaldean Christian Diaspora. In the Archdiocese, the Chaldean Catholics meet regularly for Mass supported by their Chaplain, Fr Andrawis, who commutes from London.

Dr Subhi Zora is a key person at local level in gathering the community and works closely with the other Catholic Ethnic Communities.

Mgr Daniel McHugh, the Co-ordinator of Ethnic Chaplaincies in the Archdiocese, has expressed his happiness at Dr Zora being ordained Deacon on Sunday 25 June in London by Cardinal Sako.

Main picture: Mgr Daniel, Archbishop Bernard, Cardinal Sako and Cardinal Fitzgerald at prayer in the Shrine of St John Henry Newman.

Photo Gallery by Con McHugh

Head of the Chaldean Church Pastoral visit to Birmingham