Address on the Sixth Anniversary of Electing me as a Patriarch for the Chaldean Church
31/1/2013 – 31/1/2019
First of all, I thank God for everything, and thank my auxiliary bishops, synod Fathers, priests and all those who have helped me generously at work, consultations, suggestions, and even in encouraging me to move forward. May God bless them all.
As a person, my thoughts and choices are clear. I reject compromising and bargaining. I love honesty and transparency, and I have no desire to hold on the “wreckage” of this world. I have a peace of mind. The source of my strength is in confrontation, sincerity and prayers. Therefore, I believe that the criticism directed to me in person or to the patriarchate, comes mostly from “sick” people who cannot tolerate seeing the “revival” of the Chaldean Church and its’ brilliant role at both local and global levels, in spite of all the challenges that has been faced over the last six years. such as:
- Invasion of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain towns by ISIS followed by the displacement of its inhabitants – one year after my inauguration-. So, the Church took the responsibility of caring about them for the period of three years and a half, covering the expenses of their housing, food, medication as well as ensuring education requirements in Erbil and Kirkuk. The Chaldean Church supported them also by making their voices heard in international forums, strengthen the hope during their exodus, and sharing with them the joy of returning, after liberation, by helping in reconstructing their homes, churches and schools.
- The emigration, in which the Iraqi Christian component lost around million people, and responding to the demands of immigrants, including sending priests to serve them in diaspora.
- Confront statements inciting hatred, violence and the seizure of Christian homes in Baghdad and other cities in Iraq and the success of the Chaldean Church in restoring many of them, despite the fragile security situation in the country.
- Oppose the unjust laws against Christians.
- The Church “battle” with some Christian politicians who serve their personal interests by overriding the will of the Christian component, resulted in being attacked and criticized by them in an unprofessional manner.
Signs of Hope:
Organizing the Patriarchal Finance Department; meeting of the Chaldean Synod “regularly” on annual basis; Renewing of the Chaldean liturgy to be understood easily by young people at this particular time; Ordinating eight “new” Bishops as well as number of Priests and Deacons.
Establishment of the Chaldean League; formation of the pastoral Council in Baghdad; creation of the Patriarchate Board of “advisors”; Maintained an on-going formation of Chaldean clergy in Iraq; Generous hospitality of a large number of visiting Cardinals, Bishops and priests from different Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in support of the Iraqi displaced families; following up on the solemn claims of the martyrdom at the Chaldean Church; held successfully the 26th meeting of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs in November 2018 in Baghdad, for the first time in history; welcomed Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of the State at the Vatican during his visit to Iraq and the remarkable celebration of the Christmas Eve mass (24/12/2018) in the presence of the Iraqi President, ministers. other diplomats and Muslim clerics; assured catechism in all parishes; visited most of the Chaldean Dioceses within Iraq and abroad; participated in a large number of local and international conferences; paid a special attention to youth by organizing so many spiritual, cultural and art related activities; renovated most of our churches in Baghdad; and the Patriarchate was credited for founding a dialogue committee of Christian, Shiite, Sunni, Mandaean and Yazidis, who worked to dismantle the radical discourse and prepared a booklet to acknowledge all religions in Iraq.
Finally, I would like to say: that the time is so precious and better not to waste it, also life is so short and we would rather live in peace, uprightness and joy. However, life provide us with certain opportunities to “re-think” and have enough time to live happily, but this is available only to those who have the courage, modesty and confidence “to go deep into” their hearts, and cleans them from “debris”.
I realize that Christ did nothing but good, then people did not like Him and crucified Him. I am not worthy to be treated better than that.
From the beginning of my priesthood, I have dedicated myself, seriously and humbly to serve every human being. Today, I am renewing my pledge to listen to the people, feel their problems and help them as much as I can. I love Iraq, which is my identity, and love the Chaldean Church, which is my responsibility and I will continue serving Christians of all Churches, and all Iraqis. I am confident that my work will be appraised one day.
Please pray for me, for the Church and for peace in Iraq
Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako