Baghdad, Sep. 16 ( - The Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon, representing the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq, have issued a demand to Paul Bremer, the US civil administrator of Iraq, that they be included and represented in the country's new governmental institutions.

The 19 bishops said Chaldeans are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, and that their people have made significant contributions to the country, as one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, tracing their roots back to the time of the Apostles. And they said the Chaldean role in society has been prominent until modern times. In fact, the Chaldean Patriarch was a member of the Iraqi Senate in the years of the Iraqi Republic prior to the reign of Saddam Hussein.

At present, a single member of Iraq's Governing Council is a Christian, although Christians are a significant presence in Iraq. Additionally, the single Christian is a member of the Assyrian Church, whereas about 80 percent of Christians in the country are Chaldean. "Unfairly, the Temporary Council of Government was formed without any Chaldean presence, and the structure and members of the new government have been announced without any participation of Chaldeans in the name of Chaldeans, as well," the bishops said. "That is an injustice committed against our people, for which we protests hereby explicitly and insistently."

The bishops said they want an equal representation of Chaldeans in the new State institutions, including on the commission entrusted with drafting a new constitution. The absence of Chaldeans from the drafting commission would be significant as some Chaldeans have expressed concern that a primarily Muslim representation would result in an abridgement of Christians' rights, undermining the country's acclaimed religious plurality and pushing it to become a more radical Islamic state.