Louis Raphaël I Sako

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  • Louis Raphaël I Sako
  • ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
Louis Raphael I Sako November 2015.jpg
Church Chaldean Catholic Church
See Babylon
Elected31 January 2013
Predecessor Emmanuel III Delly
Other posts
  • Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad (2013–)
Ordination1 June 1974
Consecration14 November 2003
by  André Sana
Created cardinal28 June 2018
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Birth nameLouis Sako
Born (1948-07-04) 4 July 1948 (age 70)
Zakho, Iraq
Denomination Chaldean Catholic
Previous post
  • Archbishop of Kerkūk (2002–13)
  • Apostolic Administrator of Sulaimaniya (2010–13)
Coat of arms Coat of arms of Louis Raphael I Sako.svg
Ordination history of
Louis Raphaël I Sako
Priestly ordination
Date1 June 1974
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator André Sana
Co-consecrators Shlemon Warduni,
Paulos Faraj Rahho
Date14 November 2003
Elevated by Pope Francis
Date28 June 2018

Louis Raphaël I Sako (Syriac : ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ; born 4 July 1948) is the current Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church [1] since 1 February 2013.

Syriac language dialect of Middle Aramaic

Syriac, also known as Syrian/Syriac Aramaic, Syro-Aramaic or Classical Syriac, is a dialect of Middle Aramaic of the Northwest Semitic languages of the Afroasiatic family that is written in the Syriac alphabet, a derivation of the Aramaic alphabet. Having first appeared in the early first century CE in Edessa, classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from the 4th to the 8th centuries, preserved in a large body of Syriac literature. Indeed, Syriac literature comprises roughly 90% of the extant Aramaic literature. Syriac was once spoken across much of the Near East as well as Anatolia and Eastern Arabia. Syriac originated in Mesopotamia and eventually spread west of Iraq in which it was became the lingua franca of the region during the Mesopotamian Neo-Assyrian period. During the establishment of the Church of the East in central-southern Iraq, speakers of Syriac split into two; those who followed the Eastern Syriac Rite and those who followed Western Syriac Rite. Syriac was the lingua franca of the entire region of Mesopotamia and the native language of the peoples of Iraq and surrounding regions until it was spread further west of the country to the entire Fertile Crescent region, as well as in parts of Eastern Arabia, becoming the dominant language for centuries, before the spread and replacement with Arabic language as the lingua franca. For this reason, Mesopotamian Iraqi Arabic being an Aramaic Syriac substratum, is said to be the most Aramaic Syriac influenced dialect of Arabic, sharing significant similarities in language structure, as well as having evident and stark influences from other ancient Mesopotamian languages of Iraq, such as Akkadian, Sumerian and Babylonian. Mesopotamian Arabic dialects developed by Iraqi Muslims, Iraqi Jews, as well as dialects by Iraqi Christians, most of whom are native ethnic Syriac speakers. Today, Syriac is the native spoken language of millions of Iraqi-Chaldo-Assyrians living in Iraq and the diaspora, and other Syriac-speaking people from Mesopotamia, such as the Mandaean people of Iraq. The dialects of Syriac spoken today include Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, and Mandaic.

Chaldean Catholic Church Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church

The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic particular church in full communion with the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church, with the Chaldean Patriarchate having been originally formed out of the Church of the East in 1552. Employing the East Syriac Rite in Syriac language in its liturgy, it is part of Syriac Christianity by heritage. Headquartered in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of Sorrows, Baghdad, Iraq, since 1950, it is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako. It comprises 640,828 members, mostly Chaldean Christians living in northern Iraq, with smaller numbers in adjacent areas in northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran, a region roughly corresponding to ancient Assyria. There are also many Chaldeans in diaspora in the Western world.


Pope Francis made him a cardinal on 28 June 2018.


Early life

Sako was born in the city of Zakho, Iraqi Kurdistan. He comes from a Chaldean Christian family that has roots in a religious community that has had a presence in the city of his birth since the 5th century AD. [2] Before he was consecrated bishop, Sako had demanded to see President Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi Government refused to allow him to teach religious education. Saddam refused his request but Sako responded by doing a separate doctorate and, because it had little religious content, the Government gave him his teaching licence, which enabled him to teach the subject. [3]

Zakho Place in Kurdistan, Iraq

Zakho is a city in Iraq, at the centre of the eponymous Zakho District of the Dohuk Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, located a few kilometers from the Iraqi–Turkish border. The city has a population of 350,000.

Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi part of Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the Iraqi constitution, is an autonomous region located in northern Iraq. It is also referred to as Southern Kurdistan, as Kurds generally consider it to be one of the four parts of Greater Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey, northern Syria, and northwestern Iran.

Saddam Hussein Iraqi politician and President

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba'ath Party and its regional organization the Iraqi Ba'ath Party—which espoused Ba'athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and socialism—Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to power in Iraq.

On 1 February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI granted him ecclesiastica communio (ecclesiastical communion) [4] which the leaders of the Eastern-rite Catholic churches seek as a sign of their unity with the wider Catholic church. [5] [6] Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako speaks Chaldean, German, French, English, Italian, and Arabic. [5]

Eastern Catholic Churches autonomous, self-governing particular Churches in full communion with the Pope

The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, and in some historical cases Uniate Churches, are twenty-three Eastern Christian particular churches sui iuris in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Headed by patriarchs, metropolitans, and major archbishops, the Eastern Catholic Churches are governed in accordance with the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, although each church also has its own canons and laws on top of this, and the preservation of their own traditions is explicitly encouraged. The total membership of the various churches accounts for about 18 million, according to the Annuario Pontificio, thus making up about 1.5 percent of the Catholic Church, with the rest of its more than 1.2 billion members belonging to the Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church.

Sako was ordained a priest on 1 June 1974 for the Chaldean Archeparchy of Mosul. After his election and subsequent confirmation in 2003 he was consecrated the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Kirkuk on 27 September 2003. He was elected to the position by a synod of bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church on 24 October 2002. [7] He was awarded the Defensor Fidei prize in 2008 and in 2010, he was awarded the International Pax Christi Award.

Mosul City in Iraq

Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq. Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, Mosul stands on the west bank of the Tigris, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank. The metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the "Left Bank" and the "Right Bank", as the two banks are described by the locals compared to the flow direction of Tigris.

Kirkuk City in Iraq

Kirkuk is a city in Iraq, serving as the capital of the Kirkuk Governorate, located 238 kilometres north of Baghdad. Kirkuk lies in a wide zone with an enormously diverse population and has been multilingual for centuries. There were dramatic demographic changes during Kirkuk's urbanization in the twentieth century, which saw the development of distinct ethnic groups. Kurds, Iraqi Turkmen, Arabs, and Assyrians lay conflicting claims to this zone, and all have their historical accounts and memories to buttress their claims.

Pax Christi international organization

Pax Christi International is an international Catholic peace movement. The Pax Christi International website declares its mission is "to transform a world shaken by violence, terrorism, deepening inequalities, and global insecurity."

In August 2009, and at the beginning of Ramadan, Sako sent out an appeal for national peace, reconciliation and end to violence along with other religious leaders in Kirkuk. Archeparch Sako explained that this is "a gesture of closeness to our Muslim brothers. We are all brothers, sons of the same God we must respect and cooperate for the good of the people and our country. " "Iraq – said Msgr. Sako – needs reconciliation and dialogue”. The participants included representatives of Ali Sistani and Muqtada al Sadr. [8] Sako has stated that he would go against a centuries-old tradition of wearing the traditional Chaldean head cover "shash". [9]

Ramadan Ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and the month of fasting for Muslims

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm) fasting, prayer, reflection and community. A commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad, the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one visual sighting of the crescent moon to the next.

As Patriarch

The Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, convoked in Rome on 28 January 2013, elected him to succeed Emmanuel III Delly as Patriarch of Babylon. Sako chose Louis Raphael I as his regnal name.

Emmanuel III Delly patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic church

Mar Emmanuel III Delly was the Patriarch Emeritus of Babylon of the Chaldeans and former Primate of the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic sui juris particular church of the Catholic Church, and also a Cardinal. An ethnic Chaldean, he was born in Tel Keppe and was ordained a priest on 21 December 1952. He was consecrated a bishop ten years later in December 1962 at the age of 35. He was elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Church on 3 December 2003, succeeding the late Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid. He was created a Cardinal Bishop on 24 November 2007.

In July 2014 Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword. At the Vatican, Pope Francis decried what he said was the persecution of Christians in the birthplace of their faith, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Islamic State's actions could constitute a crime against humanity. Hundreds of Christian families left Mosul ahead of the ultimatum, many of them stripped of their possessions as they fled for safety. They formed the remnants of a community which once numbered in the tens of thousands and traced its presence in Mosul to the earliest years of Christianity. [10]

In September 2014 Sako said “The U.S. is indirectly responsible for what is going on in Iraq as it said it would ensure democracy and the well-being of the people, but 10 years have passed and on the contrary we have gone backward,” Sako told reporters at Beirut's airport. He was responding to a question following remarks attributed to him in the local daily Ad-Diyar in which he accused the U.S. of supporting ISIS. Sako had also criticized Muslim countries for lack of support. “Our Muslim neighbours did not help us,” he said, as he urged Muslim preachers to issue a religious ruling against the killing of all innocent people. “Issuing a fatwa preventing Muslims from killing fellow Muslims is not enough,” Sako said. [11]

In October 2014, Sako suspended 10 priests that fled Iraq after they refused an order to return to the country. [12] The priests, including Fr. Noel Gorgis, who has lived in the United States for 20 years, appealed to Pope Francis for relief from the order. In January 2015, Pope Francis granted permission to the 10 to remain in the United States. [13] Patriarch Sako later renewed his order despite the Pope's decision. [14]

In 2015, Sako proposed a "merger" or reunion of his own Chaldean Catholic Church with the Ancient Church of the East and the Assyrian Church of the East to create one united "Church of the East" with a single patriarch in union with the Pope. His proposal would have involved both his own resignation and that of Mar Addai II, followed by a joint synod of all of the bishops of all three churches to elect a new patriarch for the reunited Church of the East. (The patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East was vacant at the time, following the death of Mar Dinkha IV.) [15]

On 14 November 2015, the Synod of Bishops announced that Pope Francis had named him as one of his three appointments to that body's council.

Pope Francis made Sako a cardinal bishop in a consistory on 28 June 2018. [16]

See also

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  1. Pio, Francesco (1 February 2017). "Il-Patrijarka Kaldew: L-ordni ta' Trump hi ta' ħsara għall-Insara fil-Lvant Nofsani". iNews Malta (in Maltese). Attard, Malta. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017.
  2. Chabot, "Synodicon orientale", 676
  3. "New Patriarch outwitted Saddam". Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  4. "Abp. Louis Sako elected Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church". News.va. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  5. 1 2 "Elezione del nuovo Patriarca di Babilonia dei Caldei (Iraq)". Press.catholica.va. Retrieved 28 December 2013.[ permanent dead link ]
  6. "Granting of Ecclesiastica Communio to the new Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans". Microsofttranslator.com. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  7. "Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako". Catholic-Hierarchy.org . David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  8. Gheddo, Piero. "In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation". Asianews.it. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  9. "Il patriarca che rinuncia al "Shash" – Vatican Insider". Vaticaninsider.lastampa.it. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  10. Iraq Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan
  11. "In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation". 29 August 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
  12. Phillips, Preston (22 October 2014). "Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon". KGTV. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  13. Popescu, Roxana (8 January 2015). "Pope to El Cajon priest: stay put". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  14. "Chaldean patriarch defies pope, orders priests back to Iraq". XETV San Diego 6. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  15. "Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing 'Church of the East'” La Stampa 25 June 2015. Accessed 11 May 2017.
  16. D'Emilio, Frances (28 June 2018). "Pope, making new cardinals, hears Iraqi tell of martyrs". Fox News. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 June 2018.

Additional sources

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
André Sana
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk
Succeeded by
Yousif Thomas Mirkis
Preceded by
Emmanuel III Delly
Patriarch of Babylon
of the Chaldean Catholic Church