The Pope’s decision came in virtue of Canon 72 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, explained Vatican press office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls. The patriarchal see of the Chaldean Church is in Baghdad, Iraq.
The 22 bishops of the synod met in August to appoint the successor of Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, who died July 7. Such a process followed the custom of the Eastern patriarchal churches.
Canon 72 provides for the election by a two-thirds vote in the first ballot or by an absolute majority after a certain number of votes. If the election does not take place in the first 15 days from the opening of the synod, Paragraph 2 of the canon establishes that the case goes to the Roman Pontiff.
Christians in Iraq number 800,000, about 3% of the population. Of these, Chaldean Catholics constitute over 70%. The Baghdad community has about 350,000 faithful.
The official language of the Chaldean liturgy is Aramaic. As the faithful normally speak Arabic, the celebration of the liturgy is bilingual. There are Chaldean communities in America, Europe and Oceania.