Louis Raphaël I Sako

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  • Louis Raphaël I Sako
  • ܠܘܝܣ ܪܘܦܐܝܠ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܣܟܘ
Chaldean Patriarchate
Louis Raphaël I Sako November 2015.jpg
ChurchChaldean Catholic Church
SeeChaldean Catholic Patriarchate
Elected31 January 2013
PredecessorEmmanuel III Delly
Other post(s)
  • 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 73)
Zakho, Iraq
DenominationChaldean Catholic
Previous post(s)
  • Archbishop of Kerkūk (2002–13)
  • Apostolic Administrator of Sulaimaniya (2010–13)
Coat of armsCoat of arms of Louis Raphael I Sako.svg
Ordination history
Priestly ordination
Date1 June 1974
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorAndré Sana
Co-consecratorsShlemon Warduni,
Paulos Faraj Rahho
Date14 November 2003
Elevated byPope Francis
Date28 June 2018

Louis Raphaël I Sako (born 4 July 1948) has been the Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholics and head of the Chaldean Catholic Church[1] since 1 February 2013.

Pope Francis created him a cardinal on 28 June 2018.


Early life[edit]

Sako was born in the city of Zakho, Iraq. He comes from an ethnic Assyrian family of the Chaldean Catholic Church 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 license, 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 Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, 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 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.

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, elected him to succeed Emmanuel III Delly as Patriarch of Babylon. 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 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[15][16] with the Ancient Church of the East[17] 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.)[18] The Assyrian Church of the East respectfully declined this proposal citing "ecclesiological divergences still remaining" and proceeded with its election of a new Patriarch.[19]

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 patriarch in a consistory on 28 June 2018.[20]


See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b "Elezione del nuovo Patriarca di Babilonia dei Caldei (Iraq)". Press.catholica.va. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. 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". The Daily Star. 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. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  15. ^ Reuters Staff (2 March 2021). "Factbox: Iraq's Christian denominations". Reuters. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Chaldean Catholic Church". Catholics & Cultures. 15 March 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  17. ^ "The true people identity of our Church of East - ChaldeanWiki". chaldeanwiki.com. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing 'Church of the East'” La Stampa 25 June 2015. Accessed 11 May 2017.
  19. ^ https://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/assyrian-bishop-mar-awa-royel-replies-to-the-unity-offer-by-chaldean-catholic-patriarch/
  20. ^ 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[edit]

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Patriarch of Babylon
of the Chaldeans