|Cardinal, Patriarch of Baghdad of the Chaldeans|
|Church||Chaldean Catholic Church|
|See||Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate|
|Elected||31 January 2013|
|Predecessor||Emmanuel III Delly|
|Ordination||1 June 1974|
|Consecration||14 November 2003|
by André Sana
|Created cardinal||28 June 2018|
by Pope Francis
4 July 1948
|Coat of arms|
Louis Raphaël I Sako (Arabic: لويس روفائيل ساكو; born 4 July 1948) is a Chaldean Catholic prelate who has served as Patriarch of Baghdad since 1 February 2013. Pope Francis made him a cardinal on 28 June 2018.
Sako was born in the city of Zakho, Iraq, on 4 July 1948. 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.
He completed his early studies in Mosul and then attended the Dominican-run Saint Jean’s Seminary there. He was ordained a priest on 1 June 1974 and filled his first pastoral assignment at the Cathedral of Mosul until 1979. He then earned a doctorate in Eastern patrology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. When denied a license to teach because he was only qualified for religious instruction, he earned a second doctorate in history from the Sorbonne in Paris. With this he secured his teaching license and was able to provide religious instruction. From 1997 to 2002 he was rector of the Patriarchal Seminary in Baghdad. He then returned to Mosul and guided the parish of Perpetual Help for a year.
A synod of the bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church meeting in Baghdad elected Sako Archeparch of Kirkuk on 24 October 2002. Pope John Paul II gave his assent on 27 September 2003. He received his episcopal consecration on 14 November 2003 from his predecessor in Kirkuk, André Sana.
In August 2009, and at the beginning of Ramadan, Sako organized an appeal for national peace, reconciliation and end to violence on the part of more than fifty religious leaders in Kirkuk. He called it "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." The participants included representatives of Ali Sistani and Muqtada al Sadr.
The Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church, convoked in Rome on 28 January 2013, elected Sako to succeed Emmanuel III Delly as Patriarch of Babylon. He chose Louis Raphael I as his regnal name. Pope Benedict XVI gave his assent to the election on 1 February and granted him ecclesiastica communio (ecclesiastical communion) as required by the canon law for Eastern-rite Catholic churches in recognition of their unity with the wider Catholic church.
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. 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." 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 urged Muslim preachers to issue a religious ruling against the killing of all innocent people and said that "Issuing a fatwa preventing Muslims from killing fellow Muslims is not enough."
In 2014, Sako ordered ten priests who had fled Iraq to return there by 22 October; he suspended them when they failed to comply. The priests, all living in the United States, some for as long as twenty years, appealed to Pope Francis for relief from the order. In January 2015, Pope Francis granted them permission to remain in the United States. Sako later renewed his order despite the pope's decision.
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 required both his own resignation and that of Mar Addai II, followed by a joint synod 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.) He wrote that "Unity does not mean uniformity, nor the melting of our own church identity into one style, but it maintains unity in diversity and we remain one apostolic universal church, the Oriental Church, that maintains its independence of administration, laws and liturgies, traditions and support." The Assyrian Church of the East respectfully declined this proposal citing "ecclesiological divergences still remaining" and proceeded with its election of a new patriarch.
On 14 November 2015, the Synod of Bishops announced that Pope Francis had named Sako as one of his three appointments to that body's council.
Pope Francis made Sako a cardinal in a consistory on 28 June 2018. Later that year, Pope Francis named him one of the four cardinals to preside over sessions of the Synod of Bishops on Youth in October.
On 6 October 2018 Sako was named a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, on 22 February 2019 a member of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and on 29 September 2021 a member of the Congregation for Catholic Education. On 4 January 2022, Pope Francis made him a member of the Council for the Economy.
- Milad, Fathy (22 September 2021). "جريمةُ القتلِ المأساوية بين أول أخوين : قايين وهابيل "الإجهاضُ قتلٌ على طريقةِ قايين"". Catholic Church in Egypt (in Arabic). Retrieved 27 December 2021.
- "Dalle Chiese Orientali" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- Chabot, "Synodicon orientale", 676
- "Sako Card. Louis Raphaël I". Sala Stampa della Santa Sede. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
- "New Patriarch outwitted Saddam". The Tablet. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "Rinunce e Nomine, 27.09.2003" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- "Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako". Catholic-Hierarchy.org. David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
- Gheddo, Piero (29 August 2009). "In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation". Asia News. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- "Lettera del Santo Padre al Nuovo Patriarca di Babilonia dei Caldei per la Concessione dell'Ecclesiastica Communio, 03.02.2013" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- Iraq Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan
- "In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation". The Daily Star. 29 August 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2014.
- Schiffer, Kathy (24 October 2014). "Chaldean Priests Forced to Choose Between Disobedience and Martyrdom". Aletaia. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- Popescu, Roxana (8 January 2015). "Pope to El Cajon priest: stay put". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "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.
- "Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing 'Church of the East'". La Stampa. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
- "The Unity of the Church of the East". Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon. 25 June 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- "Assyrian Bishop Mar Awa Royel Replies to the Unity offer by Chaldean Catholic Patriarch - News | Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE". theorthodoxchurch.info. Archived from the original on 1 April 2017.
- "Comunicato della Segreteria Generale del Sinodo dei Vescovi, 14.11.2015" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- D'Emilio, Frances. "Pope, making new cardinals, hears Iraqi tell of martyrs". Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 28 June 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- Arocho Esteves, Junno (16 July 2018). "Pope nominates presidents-delegate for upcoming Synod of Bishops". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 06.10.2018" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 6 October 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 22.02.2019" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 29.09.2021" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 29 September 2021. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
- "Resignations and Appointments, 04.01.2022" (Press release). Holy See Press Office. 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
- Additional sources
- "Louis Raphaël Sako, il patriarca "combattente"". La Stampa (in Italian). 23 May 2018.
- "Cardinal Sako Interview In L'Osservatore Romano" (Interview). 12 April 2021.
- "Cardinal Louis Sako: architect of the historic papal trip to Iraq". La Croix. 5 March 2021.