Less acrimony, more dialogue needed

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Twice in recent months, Chaldean priests refused to cooperate with Chaldean News coverage of their own events. One was an ordination; the other a new (additional) assignment. Seemingly, they, and others around them, take issue with some of the stories the Chaldean News has covered in the past.

The August issue covered two Chaldean brothers who are gay. What we didn’t know at the time was the offensive nature of their social media profiles. Nonetheless, our coverage was not an endorsement of them, their lifestyles or anything else. It was just a story.

In some of my columns, I have also been critical of various church figures, including the previous pope, an American cardinal opposed to the current pope and a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. All those pieces reflected nothing more than my own views on various topics.

But other than these articles, the Chaldean News, for 15 years, has covered the Chaldean Church in overwhelmingly positive terms. Every major event in the life of the Chaldean Church in the United States and abroad, under both of our Bishops, has been covered in glowing terms.

Many Church figures have written original pieces or responses to previous Chaldean News stories or opinions. Those have always been and will continue to be welcome.

We need in the community to learn how to agreeably disagree. We’re bad at that and I would argue that some priests and seminarians are very bad at it. Apparently, among some, there is an unofficial boycott of the Chaldean News. If this is true, I would say it’s unfortunate.

Putting aside our values as a liberal, democratic republic and the first amendment, it seems the better approach for those that disagree with the Chaldean News from time to time would be to dialogue. It is important to note that the Chaldean News strives to be a community paper with potential reach to the approximately 180,000 Chaldeans in southeast Michigan.

While we do cover the Chaldean Church extensively, our paper was not designed to cater exclusively to the 10,000 – 15,000 weekly church goers. In fact, one might argue that the paper could be used as a vehicle to reach beyond those already in the fold—or to borrow a phrase from Pope Francis, to go to the periphery.

Last month was the celebration of the 50th ordination of John XXIII. Pope Giovanni believed in dialogue before condemnation; in choosing peace before war. As a young bishop in Bulgaria, he embraced the Bulgarian Orthodox Church against the prevailing winds at the time.

In Turkey, he negotiated the exit of Turkish Jews during WWII. As pope, he received the daughter of Nikita Khrushchev in the Vatican at the height of the Cold War. In the face of Curia opposition, he always chose engagement.

It is John XXIII’s example I hold up here.

Instead of small-mindedness, magnanimity;

Rather than pettiness, largesse;

In addition to piety, tenderness;

Finally, less acrimony and more dialogue.

Michael Sarafa is Co-publisher of the

Chaldean News.