The following comes from a Jan. 8 story on Channel 10 News, San Diego.
In a landmark decision, Pope Francis has ruled that a priest who is part of the San Diego Iraqi Christian community will not have to return to Iraq.
The Pope this week overturned a decree that would have sent Father Noel Gorgis of the St. Peters Chaldean Church in El Cajon back to Iraq.
In October of last year, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church ordered 10 priests, including Gorgis, to return to Iraq or leave the church for good. The church patriarch said the group never had their moves to the U.S. approved.
Most of them had fled Iraq around the time of the Gulf War, and today ISIS militants are threatening Iraq’s Christians with death if they don’t convert to Islam.
10News spoke with Father Noel Gorgis in October about his fears of returning home.
“To tell me go back to Iraq, it really is to make to tell me go and have suicide,” Gorgis said at the time.
The Chaldean Church of San Diego appealed to Pope Francis shortly after the decree to move was issued.
“We applaud the Pope’s decision with solemn hearts,” said Mark Arabo, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Christian community in San Diego, in a statement Thursday. “Our community can once again sleep soundly, knowing that our priest, and spiritual leader is safe within the United States.”
The decision applies to other Chaldean priests, in addition to Gorgis. Lundon Attisha, communications director for Arabo, said the Pope’s decision was “over-arching” and that it “applied to all the priests in this situation.
There are only 14 priests serving the 140,000 Chaldean Catholics on the West Coast. Half of those they are serving live in San Diego County.
To read original story, click here.