Louis Raphael I Sako

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His Beatitude
  • Louis Raphaël I Sako
  • ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
See Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon
Appointed 1 February 2013
Predecessor Emmanuel III Delly
Other posts Chaldean Archbishop of Baghdad
Ordination 1 June 1974
Consecration 14 November 2003
by André Sana
Personal details
Birth name Louis Sako
Born (1948-07-04) 4 July 1948 (age 66)
Zakho, Iraq
Denomination Chaldean Catholic
Residence Iraq
Previous post
  • Archbishop of Kerkūk (2002–2013)
Coat of arms

Louis Raphaël I Sako (Syriac: ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ) (born 4 July 1948) is the current Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church since his election on 1 February 2013.


Early life[edit]

Sako was born in the city of Zakho on the Iraq–Turkey border. He is ethnically Chaldean and from a community that has had a religious presence in the city since the 5th century AD. [1]Before he was ordained a bishop, then-Fr 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 the cleric 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.[2]

On 1 February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI granted him ecclesiastica communio (ecclesiastical communion)[3] which the leaders of the Eastern-rite Catholic churches seek as a sign of their unity with the wider Catholic church.[4][5] Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako speaks Syriac, German, French, English, Italian, and Arabic.[4]

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 ordained the Chaldean Catholic Archeparch of Kirkuk since 27 September 2003. He was elected to the position by a synod of bishops of the Chaeldean Catholic Church on 24 October 2002.[6] He was awarded the Defensor Fidei prize in 2008 and in 2010, he was awarded the International Pax Christi Award.

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.[7] Sako has stated that he would go against a centuries old tradition of wearing the traditional Assyrian head cover "shash".[8]

As Patriarch[edit]

The Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, convoked in Rome on 28 January 2013, electing him Patriarch of Babylon in succession of Emmanuel III Delly who had resigned because of old age. Sako chose Louis Raphael I as his regnal name.

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 Saturday's 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.[9]

In September 2014 he 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.[10]

Patriarch Sako suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday was the deadline. The priests, though, are refusing to leave and are now waiting on Pope Francis to tell them what to do next. Dozens of devout Chaldean Catholics attended an emergency mass Wednesday at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in Rancho San Diego, to pray for the 10 priests who have now been suspended by Sako. He claims Father Noel Gorgis of El Cajon and other priests who he demanded return never had their moves to the United States approved when most of them fled Iraq.[11] According to canon law, an appeal suspends the execution of a sentence, meaning the priests will be able to continue practicing here unless the pope says otherwise.


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