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    » 02/01/2013, 00.00


    New Chaldean patriarch tells AsiaNews he'll work for Christian and Iraqi unity

    Dario Salvi

    The Chaldean Synod elected Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, to replace Cardinal Delly at the helm of the Iraqi Church. A "very difficult journey" lies ahead, the new patriarch said, which "will require so many sacrifices, but also a lot of hope". He hopes to see Christians "come back to Iraq." For that, the Church "must prepare the ground".

    Rome (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.

    Card 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.

    A "very 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."

    For 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."

    "Authenticity 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."

    Seeing 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."

    In 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."

    Born on 4 July 1948 in Zakho, northern Iraq, Mgr Louis Sako was ordained priest on 1 June 1974.

    On 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.

    In recognition for his work, the prelate received the Defensor Fidei award in 2008; two years later, he was given the Pax Christi international award.

    In a long 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".

    In 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 clergy."

    Last 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.

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    See also

    04/07/2016 17:09:00 IRAQ
    For Patriarch Sako, Baghdad massacre rooted in IS’s desire to rule the world

    This morning, the Chaldean Patriarch visited Baghdad’s Karrada district, scene of the latest Jihadi attack.  So far the death toll stands at 165 with at least 225 wounded. Other sources claim more than 200 deaths. Government unity is needed to counter extremist violence. The Muslim world must realise that IS is a cancer eating away at Islam itself. Pope Francis prays for the victims and their families.

    13/06/2013 IRAQ
    Chaldean Synod: revitalising the Christian presence in Iraq and freedom for Syrian bishops
    This is the thrust of the paper that marked the end of the meeting held in Baghdad on 5-10 June. The Fathers call for the creation of a "competent" Christian political class, urging the faithful to be "a bridge between cultures." The Synod also stressed the importance of the ecumenical movement and calls for an "honest dialogue" with the Assyrian Church of the East. It issues special thanks to Pope Francis.

    30/01/2014 IRAQ
    Mar Sako, a year as Patriarch: unity, dialogue and mission, the challenges of the Chaldean Church
    In a pastoral letter His Beatitude recounts the first year at the helm of the Chaldeans , and presents guidelines for the future. He does not forget the difficulties, the exodus of Christians and sectarian violence. The call to revive "the original charism" that helps believers to really live the "gift" of faith. The hope of peace and thoughts for our “brothers and sisters” in Syria and Lebanon.

    28/04/2016 21:51:00 IRAQ
    Patriarch Sako: Amoris Laetitia, a source of mercy and learning for Christians and Muslims

    The Apostolic Exhortation contains essential elements for Christian families. It has also elicited “positive thoughts” among Muslims. For the Chaldean Patriarch, Islam too is waiting for something different on the family and spousal relations. Despite the war, few families have broken down, which is not the case for those who emigrated. Married priests could be a model for the whole Church.

    30/01/2016 13:30:00 IRAQ
    After three years as patriarch, Mar Sako continues to focus unity and service for the future of the Church in Iraq

    In a pastoral letter marking the third anniversary of his election, the Chaldean patriarch and primate of the Iraqi Church stresses achievements and outlines future challenges. In the Year of mercy, the latter include the need to forgive and be forgiven, and strong Christian political leaders to defend the rights of Iraq’s Christian community.

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