Louis Raphaël I Sako
|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
|Birth name||Louis Sako|
|Born||4 July 1948|
|Coat of arms|
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. 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.
On 1 February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI granted him ecclesiastica communio (ecclesiastical communion) which the leaders of the Eastern-rite Catholic churches seek as a sign of their unity with the wider Catholic church. Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako speaks Chaldean Neo-Aramaic, German, French, English, Italian, and Arabic.
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. 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. Sako has stated that he would go against a centuries-old tradition of wearing the traditional Chaldean head cover "shash".
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.
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.
In October 2014, Sako suspended 10 priests that fled Iraq after they refused an order to return to the country. 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. Patriarch 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 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.) 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 him as one of his three appointments to that body's council.
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- Chabot, Jean-Baptiste (1902). Synodicon orientale ou recueil de synodes nestoriens (PDF). Paris: Imprimerie Nationale.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Louis Raphaël I Sako|