Card. Sako: unity among Churches for the survival of Christians in the Middle East

In a long reflection, the cardinal relaunches the theme of a "fusion" between local realities, such as the Assyrians and the Chaldeans. The same applies to the Syro-Catholics and the Syro-Orthodox. At the basis is a shared land, liturgy, language, heritage and history'. The need to study a unitary project that sis built through "courageous dialogue". 

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - In-depth studies on the "Eastern heritage" and the writings of the "Fathers of the Church" do not reveal anything that would "prevent" the "fusion" between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East under the common name of "Church of the East", according to the Patriarch of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, Card. Louis Raphael Sako.

The leader's thoughts are contined in a message published by the patriarchate's online media in which he once again relaunches the goal of unity among the different Christian denominations to protect and guarantee their very survival.

The cardinal continued that the same applies to the Syriac Catholic and Orthodox Church under the name of the Syriac Church of Antioch, and to all the realities that "share a common land, liturgy, language, heritage and history".

The  question of unity between Churches is a recurring and fundamental theme for Card. Sako, who on more than one occasion in the past has proposed a joint path between the various ecclesiastical communities, especially the Eastern Catholic ones.

Only by joining forces is it possible to guarantee a future for a minority reality in the Middle East region, often the victim in the past of violence, attacks, and marginalisation even within the political and institutional framework of their own countries. 

He explains, down through history these Churches "have embraced many different peoples, nationalities and languages" from which, however, it is feasible to arrive at a common synthesis. "It is possible," the Chaldean primate emphasises, "to study this 'unitary project' through courageous dialogue, so that we can guarantee the future and an influential presence in our societies."

"Being a minority, along with injustice and forced migration, he warns, have driven many to emigrate to the nations of the 'diaspora' as the original lands are also those that "for the first seven centuries of history welcomed the majority of Christians". 

Card. Sako affirms that unity does not at all mean denying and erasing individual identities or even worse dispersing them in an anonymous "uniformity". On the contrary, unity means preserving "a common faith, respecting the leadership of each Church, its tradition, liturgy, nationality and language". Its unity in the faith is "real, not fictitious", the cardinal continues, and is in the first instance a "theological unity" based on the Trinity and God the father.

"Ecumenism," he says, "resides in diversity and pluralism. It begins within a parish, a diocese, a patriarchate, and then between the Churches themselves."

The Cardinal urges people "not to be afraid of challenges" or criticism of which the patriarch himself is the object, particularly for his "interference in politics", which he rejects. "I defend our citizenship," Card. Sako -, the oppressed people and I invite the government to create a civil regime. Moreover, I am not affiliated with any kind of party and I do not receive 'bribes' from anyone'.

Finally, the Chaldean Primate relaunches the challenge of ecumenism, which implies "a new vision for the Churches", a "formation of the clergy" and greater "openness" for priests and faithful. And again, a renewal of theological and spiritual education and the recognition of the "signs" of God's love in order to go forward together in "unity, love, service and witness".

"We must strengthen the Christian presence in this turbulent Middle East," he concludes, "and put an end to fanaticism and ecclesiastical, as well as national and ethnic, egocentrism."