History of the Chaldean Church
A Confusion of Religion With Ethnicity
By wm. warda
Chaldean Church rejection of its Assyrian heritage and its leaders' insistence that they are ethnically Chaldeans is contrary to all historical facts, reason and logic.
By all accounts the Chaldean church came into existence in 1551 because of a dispute in the Assyrian "Church of the East", the dissidents formed a separate church under the leadership of Yohanna (John) Sulaga, a monk of Rabban Hormizd located 30 miles north of Nineveh. This church was recognized by the Roman Catholic church and was later called Chaldean.
The name Chaldean had became fashionable among the Christians since the 12th century AD when some syriac writers such as Basil Bar Shumana came to believe that the city of Urfa known as Urhay in northern Mesopotamia was the ancient sumerian city called Ur of Chaldee of the Old Testament from which Abraham migrated to Cannon. This as we know it is not true. (see J.B. Segal, "Edessa 'The Blessed City' "Oxford 1970, p.3
John Sulaga was a member of the "Church of the East", so called "Nestorian", as were all the people who joined the Chaldean Church in the next four and a half centuries. They Joined the new church believing that they were joining a religious denomination and not another nationality. Joining the Chaldean church did not change the fact that their heritage was Assyrian and the fact that the Chaldean church itself was an Assyrian denomination.
In fact Sulaga was first appointed by the Pope Julious III as patriarch of Mosul which at that time together with nineveh were known as the District of Atour (Assyria). The last Patriarch of the Sulaga line was Simeon XIII in 1670 reverted back to the "Church of the East" and established a new branch of "Church of the East" which exists to this day.
On July 5, 1830 John Hormizd the last patriarch of the old branch of the Assyrian "Church of the East", (so called Nestorian) and its followers in northern Mesopotamia and low lands of Turkey united with the Chaldean Church and became its patriarch under the name "John IX Hormizd, Chaldean patriarch of Babylon". "Patriarch of Babylon" had been the title of the "Church of the East Patriarchs" since the early centuries of Christianity. In other word the old "Church of the East" and its wayward dissidents had once again become one. Which clearly disputes the Chaldean church claim of ethnicity other than Assyrian.
See Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading Chaldean rite.
There is a distinction between religious belief and nationality. People can change their religious belief everyday, but it would be impossible to do the same with their national origin. Believing whether Jesus has one nature or two in no way affects a person's history or nationality.
Assyrians of Iran who joined the Chaldean Church during the last two centuries did so by believing that it was just another Assyrian Church. They still proudly call themselves Assyrians. Some Assyrians from Iran also were converted into the Russian Baptist Church, to my knowledge they have not yet claimed to be Russians, nor have Assyrians of the presbyterian church pretend to be of European ancestry. Chaldean church must be the only religious denomination which requires its members to abdicate their ancestry after they joined it . It is a shame that the United States Census bureau has been mislead into believing that it can undermine the concept of Separation of Church of State with impunity by accepting Chaldeans as an ethnic minority.
Unfortunately most members of the Chaldean church refuse to identify themselves as Assyrians simply because they have been actively discouraged from doing so by their clergies. Such attempts to disunite us has weakened both communities and has squandered resources which could have been used collectively to empower our people, our shared culture and heritage. Putting three names side by side separated by slashes will never unite our people. Real unity will come only when leaders of the Chaldean and the Syrian Orthodox Church loudly declare our common Assyrian ancestry and ask their followers to honor it as much as they honor their church.
"In part I of this article, I presented historical records as to the origin of the religious name "Chaldean", a name given by the Catholic Church to its followers in Beth Nahrain as well as those in Malabar, West India. That the current days "Chaldeans" are but true descendants of Assyrian of antiquity, a fact that even the Roman Church agrees with."