Chaldean archbishop Louis Sako stands outside the Kirkuk cathedral on December 24, 2009. Bishops from the Iraq-based Chaldean Church have chosen Sako as their new patriarch at a synod held in Rome for security reasons, according to websites. Photo: AFP/Marwan Ibrahim
Iraqi archbishop elected new Chaldean patriarch by AFP – Friday, February 1, 2013.
Bishops from the Iraq-based Chaldean Church chose the archbishop of Kirkuk as their new patriarch on Friday at a synod held in Rome for security reasons, websites and the church leader said. Louis Sako will replace Emmanuel III Delly who retired in December after reaching the age limit of 85 in the Christian church which recognises the authority of the pope.
Sako was elected by 15 bishops from Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, as well as areas of North America and Europe with large Iraqi diasporas.
The election was announced by Iraqi Christian websites and the synod was presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in Rome rather than Baghdad for security reasons.
Sako told AFP in Baghdad by phone from Rome that he would be "honoured to meet the Pope on Sunday morning."
"This is a big responsibility, and I will work for (Iraq's) national unity," he said. "I am as close to the Christians as to the Muslims, the Arabs, the Kurds and the Turkmen.
"I will do my best to stop the emigration of Christians from Iraq," he added.
Sako will take on the official title of Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. He is seen as pro-Kurdish and has favoured co-operation with Muslim leaders in his archdiocese.
The Chaldean church, which has 700,000 followers and uses Aramaic -- the language that Jesus Christ would have spoken -- belongs to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.
But along with other Iraqi Christian communities, it has suffered persecution, forced flight and killings in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion.
Before 2003 there were more than a million Christians living in Iraq. Now they number around 450,000.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, many thousands fled after 44 worshippers and two priests were killed in an attack on a Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad on October 31, 2010, an atrocity claimed by Al-Qaeda.
Between 2003 and May 2012, some 900 Christians were killed, while 200 were kidnapped, tortured and ultimately released for exorbitant ransoms, according to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organisation in Iraq.
Priests bless Louis Sako, 64, the new patriarch of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church at St. Joseph's Church in central Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church enthroned a new patriarch during a ceremonial mass Wednesday that was held amid tight security in Baghdad. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)
New Chaldean Patriarch Enthroned in Iraq by Sameer N. Yacoub. Associated Press. March 6, 2013 (AP).
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church enthroned a new patriarch during a ceremonial mass Wednesday that was held amid tight security in Baghdad.
The mass at St. Joseph's Chaldean church in downtown Baghdad marked the final step as Louis Sako, 64, replaced Emmanuel III Delly, who has retired.
Iraqi troops sealed off all roads leading to the church in the middle-class neighborhood of Karradah and worshippers were searched by security forces before going in.
Last month, bishops of the Eastern rite church chose Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk since 2003, as their patriarch and later, Pope Benedict XVI approved the election.
Sako was ordained in 1974, earned two doctorates in Rome and Paris in the 1980s and then returned to Iraq. He has written books on church fathers. He speaks Arabic, Chaldean, French, English and Italian.
Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraqi Christians have suffered repeated violence by Islamic militants and hundreds of thousands have fled the country.
The most recent Iraq census in 1978 said there were 1.4 million Christians in the country, but the number dropped significantly to only several hundred thousand following the invasion. The vast majority of Iraqi Catholics are Chaldean with a small Assyrian Catholic minority.
During Wednesday's ceremony, Sako said he will push for dialogue with Muslim clerics, both Sunnis and Shiites, to ensure co-existence and cooperation in Iraq.
"I will work along with my Muslim brothers in order to provide our country with a better future," he said.
Senior Iraq officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi attended the ceremony.
Al-Maliki reiterated calls for Christians who are still living in Iraq not to leave the country and be part of the efforts to build the new Iraq. He accused al-Qaida for being behind the attacks that targeted the Christians over the past ten years.
"I urge my Christian brothers not to emigrate from the country," he said. "We are saddened to see Christians leave because of the threats from a depraved group."
New Chaldean Patriarch Sako Takes Possession of the See of Baghdad Urges Fellow Iraqis Not to Flee the Country by Zenit.org. Baghdad, March 08, 2013.
On Wednesday, the new Chaldean Patriarch of the Church, Louis Raphael I Sako, celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the mass of enthronement of the Patriarchal See in Baghdad. The ceremony, according to Fides News Agency, was broadcast by public television in Iraq, was also attended by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the President of the Iraqi parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.
In his homily, the new Patriarch re-proposed the vision and guidelines that will govern his ministry, while always bearing in mind the martyrdom condition shared by many Christians in Iraq in the last years. "What we have experienced in terms of suffering, tribulation and the bloodshed of our martyrs can, if we want, incorporate us to the mystery of Christ, help to recognize the presence of God among us, strengthen our hope that the Holy Spirit changes and improves the hearts of men and women,” he said.
“The storm will have to pass."
During his homily, Patriarch Sako announced the convocation of a Synod of the Chaldean Church on June 5 in Baghdad. He confirmed the intention to update the liturgy and teaching methods, renewing "with determination and courage the structures of our Church according to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the Apostolic Exhortation "Church in the Middle East."
Regarding ecumenism, he strongly proposed again the wish to cooperate "in all fields with the Assyrian Church of the East to achieve unity.
“This year, God willing, will be the last year in which we celebrate Easter according to two different calendars, because in the future, Easter in Iraq will be celebrated on the same date,” Patriarch Sako said. The new Patriarch also addressed the Muslim community of Iraq saying that “with them we will go into depth on the points of convergence between us and we will respect the points of difference.
“It is the will of God for having created us different,” he said.
In a speech delivered after the liturgy, Patriarch Sako addressed heartfelt words to Christians who are tempted to leave the country.
"I know your fears but I invite you to live reality with faith and hope,” he said.
“You are not a minority in this Country, you have been here for two thousand years and are at the origin of this Country. Together with the Muslims who came from the Arabian peninsula you have contributed to the construction of Arab and Muslim culture through translations, writings and the "Bayt al-Hikma" (House of Wisdom). You have lived with them the good and the bad. Why is the little flock still afraid?”
“Do not isolate yourselves and do not emigrate,” he continued. “Whatever the pressures you are under, this is your land and the contribution you can give does not depend on your number but on your attitude."
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.