(AsiaNews) - "We shall do everything possible for the good of the Iraqi Church
and the country," said Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk and new patriarch
of the Iraqi Chaldean Church. The prelate was elected last night after four
days of "intense" work, according to the new patriarch himself. He succeeds His
Beatitude Emmanuel Delly III, who resigned because of age.
Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, chaired
the "mini" conclave that began last Monday in the House of Spiritual Exercises
of Saints John and Paul on the Caelian Hill (Rome). Fifteen Chaldean bishops
took part in the process, seven from Iraq, two from Iran, two from the United
States and one from Lebanon, Syria, Australia and Canada.
difficult journey" lies ahead, the new patriarch said, which "will require so
many sacrifices, but also a lot of hope" as well as the help of "the holy
spirit and prayers."
the sake "of Christians and Iraq, he will do everything, he said. "Together
with the bishops and the Chaldean Church, we shall work together for unity and
renewal. We shall do all this together to rebuild the Chaldean Church, which has
suffered a lot in the last ten years."
and openness," the archbishop of Kirkuk said, "are essential elements to strengthen
harmonious coexistence" and promote the "liturgical and youth pastoral reforms"
needed to rebuild Iraq's Christian community. "Thanks to God, all the bishops
have pledged their cooperation," he said. "This gives me great strength because
I will depend a lot on a unity."
Christians come back to Iraq is one the new patriarch's hopes. For this reason,
"we must prepare the ground for their return, in the north as well as in Baghdad."
concluding, "We shall do all in our power for the sake of Church and the
nation," Mgr Sako said. "We are a small group but we want to be a beacon of
hope for everybody."
on 4 July 1948 in Zakho, northern Iraq, Mgr Louis Sako was ordained priest on 1
several occasions, the archbishop of Kirkuk denounced the exodus of Christians,
whose numbers have been more than halved, appealing to Church officials and local
political leaders as well as the international community to ensure that Christians
have a future in their native land.
recognition for his work, the prelate received the Defensor Fidei award in 2008;
two years later, he was given the Pax Christi international award.
interview with AsiaNews, he talked
in depth about the current situation in Iraq and the local Church, noting that
the new patriarch must be someone "who unites and does not divide".
addition, he must be a man "who is open and ecumenical;
someone who knows how to engage in dialogue, courageous and capable of doing the
right thing, like liturgical, pastoral and spiritual reforms to train the
but not least, Mgr Sako also made several pleas for peace and dialogue,
personally sponsoring interfaith meetings and moments of dialogue with the
country's highest Sunni and Shia clerical leaders.