Louis Raphaël I Sako

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His Beatitude
  • Louis Raphaël I Sako
  • ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
Louis Raphaël I Sako November 2015.jpg
Church Chaldean Catholic Church
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 69)
Zakho, Iraq
Denomination Chaldean Catholic
Residence Iraq
Previous post
  • Archbishop of Kerkūk (2002–2013)
Coat of arms Louis Raphaël I Sakoܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Louis Raphaël I Sako
Priestly ordination
Date of ordination 1 June 1974
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecrator André Sana
Co-consecrator Shlemon Warduni
Co-consecrator Paulos Faraj Rahho
Date of consecration 14 November 2003

Louis Raphaël I Sako (Syriac: ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ‎) (born 4 July 1948) was chosen as Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church[1] at his election on 1 February 2013.


Early life[edit]

Sako was born in the city of Zakho on the Iraq–Turkey border. He is a Chaldean Catholic from a religious community that has had presence in the city of his birth since the 5th century AD.[2] Before he was consecrated bishop, then-Father 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.[3]

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 Syriac, German, French, English, Italian, and Arabic.[5]

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 Chaeldean 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.

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]

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 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 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.[11]

In October 2014, Patriarch 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, Patriarch 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.


  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 Chaledean Church". News.va. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Elezione del nuovo Patriarca di Babilonia dei Caldei (Iraq)". Press.catholica.va. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  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.
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