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Pope names auxiliary Chaldean bishop in San Diego to head Toronto eparchy

WASHINGTON – Pope Francis has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Bawai Soro of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle in San Diego as bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto.

Bishop Soro, 63, has been an auxiliary bishop of the San Diego-based eparchy since the pope named him to the post in January 2014. He was ordained as a bishop in 1984, two years after his ordination to the priesthood.

The appointment was announced Oct. 31 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The bishop, a native of Iraq who came to the United States as a refugee in 1976, has spoken about the plight of displaced Iraqi Christians for years.

This past summer, at a news conference in Washington, he said the current situation for Christians in the Middle East remains fragile, as they suffer at the hands of radical Islamic groups.

"It is very unfortunate that Iraq as a country still lacks the certain constitutional amendments that guarantee liberty and equality to all Iraqis," he said. "It remains our dream that the Christians will not be second-class citizens in their own native homeland, Iraq. But instead, they will hopefully soon have equal social, economic, political, lives and statuses just as all Iraqis have."

In an interview with Catholic News Service in 1992, he lamented the plight of more than 50,00 Iraqi Christian refugees who fled their country along with hundreds of thousands of Kurds to escape the destruction unleashed by the Gulf War and Iraqi military operations against Kurdish rebels that followed.

"The future is unknown for these people," he said. "Mainly, they sit down and wait; they don't know what to do with their lives."

And in a 2004 interview, he told CNS that Christians and ethnic minorities have always played a "significant and civilized role" in the progress of Iraq, and sees the unification of Christians as even more crucial today. But he noted that the number of Christians in Iraq is dwindling.