Update, 2 p.m.: The regional Chaldean Catholic diocese now says canon law does allow Rev. Gorgis and the other priests to continue working until word comes down from the Vatican. Gorgis has resumed his ministry work.
Just 14 priests serve the tens of thousands of Chaldean Catholics who have emigrated from Iraq to the western United States. A church leader in Iraq has suspended seven of those priests, including the Rev. Noel Gorgis in El Cajon.
Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the church, wants the Iraqi-American priests who fled violence in Iraq to return home or leave the church. San Diego County Chaldeans oppose that and say they will appeal to the Vatican to stop it.
A memo issued last month by Sako lists 10 priests who fled violence in Iraq and started churches in their new homes. The memo said they were to return to Iraq by Oct. 22, 2014, or face suspension. The reason: The church never officially approved their moves, which were mostly to escape the Gulf War in the 1990s.