Iraqi Bishop’s Mass for 34th Infantry in Iraq

On the site of the 34th "Red bull" Infantry Division we have a story about an Iraqi bishop celebrating Holy Mass for US troops.

Iraqi Bishop Holds Catholic Mass at COB Adder
By: Sgt. Matthew E. Jones on: Sun Nov. 15, 2009

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – The acting bishop of Basra held Catholic Mass here Nov. 7 in honor of the service members and civilians working toward a safer, more secure Iraq.

Bishop Imad Al Banna, a Chaldean priest, spoke Aramaic, an ancient language spoken in Palestine 2,000 years ago and still spoken in parts of Iraq to this day.

Al Banna began his sermon with a message of peaceful coexistence.

“Peace can be achieved only by respecting other people’s opinions,” said Al Banna. “All nations who respect themselves take care of all of their citizens. National must also learn from each other and work together to achieve peace.”

Addressing the men and women in the congregation serving in the military, Al Banna extended his praise and gratitude.

“I would like to say thank you to every person who is assisting and helping,” said Al Banna. “You have come overseas so we can have a government that can take care of its citizens.”

Al Banna, who is officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as acting bishop of Basra, said he is concerned with all citizens, not only Christians.

“I try, from my religious position, to help all people of southern Iraq,” he said. “The church is very open and has services to help all people.”

Spc. Eric Jackson, Altoona, Pa., a chaplain assistant in the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, Pennsylvania National Guard, especially appreciated the Bishop’s message.

“I really like what he had to say. He is a very humble man,” said Jackson. “If you don’t have humility, you don’t have God.”

Spc. Brian Vasquez, an avionics system repairman in the 628th Aviation Support Battalion, 28th CAB, was among the non-Catholics who attended the Mass.

“I heard about it a few weeks ago,” said Vasquez, a Plainfield, N.J native. “It was kind of a historical event. I was really looking forward to it.”

Following the service, Al Banna took time to greet people as they filed by him, many exchanging hugs and kisses. With a warm smile, he even posed for pictures.

Al Banna also had lunch with dozens of troops and citizens and was given a Liberty Bell statuette by the leaders of the 28th CAB.
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  1. adamwelp says:

    What a wonderful thing for Bishop Al Banna to do! God Bless the good Bishop! And God Bless those serving in the Military.

  2. An American Mother says:

    My dad served with the 34th ID, 109th Engineer Combat Bn., in Italy during WWII.

  3. Yubbly says:

    I guess any news is good news. Still, I think it’s just rather silly that they have some Novus Ordo Latin-Rite bishop there when this is unquestionably the proper territory of the Chaldeans. Why must everywhere in the world (except for Eritrea, apparently) have an overlapping Latin jurisdiction???

  4. Random Friar says:

    This is particularly striking, because Christian clergy are already marked men by the terrorists. The bishop, by doing this, is being very brave and daring in this public act. God bless him!

  5. Mickey says:


    I’m not entirely certain, but based on my experience in the area, Latin Rite Catholics have had a long term presence in the Gulf States. The Chaldean (Syriac?) Rite is around Baghdad and east/north. Basra and COB Adder are in the south.

    For what it’s worth, I once had the pleasure of lunch with the Bishop of Arabia, a humble and holy Carmelite priest. Less than 2 weeks after the fall of Baghdad, he was already making clothing runs from Kuwait City for the Carmel in Basra as they distributed to the needy of the area…

  6. Thomas S says:

    What eactly is an “acting bishop”? Is this a case of a reporter unfamiliar with things Catholic, or is the bishop some type of temporary Apostolic Administrator while the see is vacant?

  7. aquinas138 says:


    The Chaldeans are of the East Syrian Rite; their liturgical language is Syriac, the Aramaic dialect of ancient Edessa (modern Urfa, Turkey). They broke from the “Nestorian” Church and entered communion with Rome in the 15th century at the Council of Florence.

  8. Tim Ferguson says:

    Yubbly, first of all, Al Banna is Chaldean, not Latin Rite. He is, apparently, the administrator of the Archeparchy of Basra, which has been vacant since October 2006. (I’m not positive that Msgr. Al Banna is a bishop, or if he is simply administrator of the archeparchy.

    Secondly, there is overlapping jurisdiction in most of the world because of immigration. Latin Catholics in large numbers in areas of the world that are not traditionally Latin countries have a right to their own hierarchy and their own traditions, just as Eastern Catholics in traditionally Latin countries have a right to theirs (witness the large number of Eparchies, Archeparchies, Exarchies and so forth in North America, for example). The Latins in Iraq have as their sole diocese the Latin Archdiocese of Baghdad, with three parishes.

  9. Oleksander says:


    “Why must everywhere in the world (except for Eritrea, apparently) have an overlapping Latin jurisdiction???”

    Well, because there are Latin Catholics present in Eastern Catholic places who deserve pastoral care. In Ukraine for example there are much more than enough Latin Catholics (I think over 300,000) to warrant having their own bishops.

  10. Yubbly says:

    Well, if he is Chaldean, that is the most Latinized and Novus-Ordoized Chaldean liturgy I’ve ever seen…

    You all can make whatever arguments you want in favor of the status quo, but you KNOW that any reunion with the Orthodox is going to end that. They wont tolerate such overlapping jurisdictions. Some sort of Exarchate could handle First Generation members of a ritual church in major cities outside their home territory. Second generation people…should really assimilate to the local area less “ghetto” communities be created within the larger community.

    All this being said, I will also say the United States is a special case when it comes to diversity vis a vis Rites.

  11. Tim Ferguson says:

    …which is why the Orthodox are in such a hurry to eliminate their jurisdictions in Western Europe, the Americas and Australia…. and why you would NEVER have overlapping Orthodox jurisdictions – the Greeks and the Russians and the Romanians and the Bulgarians and the OCA NEVER have any issues with overlapping jurisdictions and willingly cede place to each other when in each other’s territories.

    /sarcasm off/

    And you’re calling this liturgy “Novus-Ordoized” based on one photo? Granted, this liturgy is not being celebrated in a Chaldean Church, as it’s being offered at a temporary chapel in a military base, but this one photo doesn’t look too terribly different from the Elevation at any of the Chaldean Churches here in the Metro Detroit area, home to the largest number of Chaldeans outside of Iraq.

  12. uugreggy says:

    Do you think the soldiers for whom this Mass was said really cared about what liturgical rite was used to bring them the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ? I know not your background, but mine includes 23 plus years in the USAF, and I know how precious the visit of any priest/ chaplain means to the men and women wearing the uniform of the U.S. Maybe the discussion of the “silliness” of having someone you really don’t know anything about bringing Christ to those who crave Him might be just a little bit out of line.

    Comment by Fr. Gregg

  13. JPG says:

    Not knowing the chaldean rite but I would imagine what his excellency is saying is Yours of Your own for all on behalf of all.
    Far from being OF latin it looks Eastern rite. One should not be fooled by camera angles and jumping to needless conclusions. In addition to his work as a minister to a scarcely tolerated minority he is ministering to the “infidel occupier”. This act jeopardizes his life and that of his flock. I am not certain if his predecessor was murdered by sectarian savages or was that a bishop in a more northern see. I would quote Archie Bunker on this to Yubbly with all due respect,” Stifle it”.

  14. PatrickV says:

    I don’t particularly care if the good Bishop is praying a pure Chaldean or a Latin mass, the fact that he is praying the mass for the troops is enough.

    The fact that he is defying death to do it is enough.

    I saw a news report during the First Gulf War that showed a Chaldean Rite priest praying Holy Mass for a small congregation of Iraqis in a bombed out building. It looked a deal like a Latin Rite mass, but from the small amount of footage it was hard to tell.

    What mattered was that Catholics were still worshipping as their ancestors did in spite of horrible conditions and possible persecution.

    Bp. Al Banna is another example of priestly virtue and perseverance in this Year of the Priest.

  15. Unvanquished says:

    It is my understanding that the good bishop has done this for the troops before, and I applaud him for it. I am supposed to be in Basra myself in less than three months and hope to get the chance to meet him while there.

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