ASIA/IRAQ - The Chaldean Patriarch Sako: our priests are good, criticism without charity is bad for the Church

Friday, 5 February 2021 middle east   oriental churches   priests   pastoral

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - The priests of the Chaldean Church are also only people with their personal limits, but the vast majority of them exercise their priestly ministry with devotion and generosity, to the point of extreme sacrifice. This was emphasized by Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, in a public letter in which he responded to the criticism directed against the local clergy in a post published by the website
In the letter, the Patriarch tells his own story: "I have lived in Iraq since I was born", he writes "and I have met many Bishops and priests who were important in my long journey of service to the Church. I owe my priestly vocation, among other things, to the example of a great priest". The Primate of the Chaldean Church does not deny that there are also priests who misuse their office. "But the great majority of our priests", emphasizes the Patriarch "are fully dedicated and immersed in their priestly ministry. Among them we have true martyrs".
In this context Cardinal Sako recalls the fundamental aspects of the Church: it is "a divine and human institution. The Church is holy and not the clergy! Divinity belongs only to God. Priests, Bishops and Patriarchs are not divine, and holiness itself is a vocation for every Christian, and therefore not reserved only for the clergy". "As far as I know and for what I see - continues the Chaldean Patriarch - most priests take on their obligations up to the sacrifice. Just look at what Iraqi priests have done for a large number of displaced people since 2014.
Regarding the alleged misuse of church property, the Patriarch stresses that "today most of our parishes have offices for the transparent management of resources, parish councils and diocesan councils". Many steps have been taken to promote a transparent governance model. Nevertheless - adds the Patriarch - "we are only human and we do not perform miracles, because only God can do that".
The Iraqi cardinal, with an interesting and infrequent addition, also mentions the widespread complaints and excessive claims that in the Middle East are often taken for granted towards ecclesial institutions when it comes to looking for a job or helping with building houses and roads or even promoting political careers. This attitude inevitably leads to indiscriminate criticism, which the Patriarch believes is harmful to the Church, especially when defamation is spread without evidence of improper conduct by members of the clergy. In this regard - according to Patriarch Sako - anyone who can prove incorrect behavior should report this to the local bishop, who, if he deems it necessary, will initiate the necessary investigations using the ecclesiastical authority. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/2/2021)