Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, has received an award for his fight for human rights in Iraq and interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The Stephanus Foundation presented the award to the bishop in a ceremony held recently in Frankfurt, at the St. George University of Theology. The German charity refers to the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) and is distinguished by its commitment to the oppressed and persecuted in the world. It is the third prize for the Iraqi archbishop, after the Defensor Fidei in 2008 and Pax Christi in 2010.
In his acceptance speech, Mgr. Sako stressed the importance of Christian-Muslim dialogue, to strengthen peaceful coexistence between the two communities and enhance the culture of diversity and mutual respect. He mentioned the need to increase the commitment to peace and stability in Iraq and called on Christians in the Middle East - with particular reference to Iraqis - to fill the role of pioneers and not give in to pressure and violence. The prelate also reiterated that Iraq is the homeland of Christians and the need to find a "modus vivendi" that helps achieve the objectives of peace, harmony and freedom.The ceremony ended with an ecumenical prayer for peace, which was attended by priests, local politicians and representatives of civil society. Archbishop Louis Sako, 62, has for years been in the forefront of the battle in favour of interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims in the defence of the Christian minority in the country, often the victim of abuse and violence. For his efforts he received the coveted Pax Christi award in 2010 and Defensor Fidei prize in 2008 (see AsiaNews, Mgr Louis Sako 31/05/2008: Do not abandon Iraqi Christians).