2,000-year-old Christian community in Iraq gains a spiritual first in Baghdad





BAGHDAD: There is neither a cross nor a sign on the heavy metal gate to indicate that this is the official residence of one of the country's most prominent Christians, the first in Iraq in modern times to be elevated to cardinal by the Roman Catholic Church.

The simple structure, in a dilapidated neighborhood of this capital, opposite empty former ministry buildings, is the home of Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, whom the pope named on Oct. 17 to the College of Cardinals along with 22 others from around the world.

The only outward sign that this compound is Christian is in the garden, where a lawn surrounded by roses and zinnias is watched over by a graceful white statue of the Virgin Mary.

Many of his fellow cardinals come from Latin America, Africa and the Far East, places where Catholic practice is only a few hundred years old. But Cardinal Delly, 81, the patriarch of the Baghdad-based Chaldean Church, comes from Mosul, in northern Iraq, a place where Christian rites have been practiced for nearly 2,000 years.

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