ASIA/IRAQ - Patriarch Sako, message to the Chaldeans: Iraqi Christians are also infected by sectarianism

Tuesday, 20 February 2024 middle east   oriental churches   sectaniarism  

Erbil (Agenzia Fides) - Sectarianism is destroying the sense of belonging of the Iraqi nation, and even Christians are are "drawn into these sectarian logics and its divisions". For them, a fragile minority community, the contagion of sectarianism is equivalent to self-destruction: It is a heartbroken and urgent appeal addressed by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako "to the Chaldeans of the whole world". A warning issued at a time that Cardinal Sako considers critical for Christian communities. It is a decisive time in which the survival of Christian communities in Iraq seems threatened not so much by external enemies, but by ambitions and sectarian divisions that are dividing the hearts of brothers and sisters in Christ. The Patriarch recalls in the same title of the Message the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew: "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and no town or house divided against itself will stand".

In the message, published on Sunday, February 18, the Patriarch calls into question "international and regional influences and corrupt parties" that "strive to divide Iraqis into sectarian communities", and "have managed to destroy the sense of belonging to a nation". Currently, in Iraq - continues Cardinal Sako - everyone "claims to belong to their own community: Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and now also Christians", while the governments, "equally immersed in this sectarian logic", seem incapable of protecting the national sovereignty of the country.
The Chaldean Cardinal confesses that he "painfully confirmed" all the divisions that exist within the Iraqi Christian communities during his recent trip to Belgium and the Netherlands. Furthermore, in those countries, among Iraqi Christians in the diaspora, "there are those who call themselves Chaldeans or Assyro-Chaldeans and those who define themselves as Assyrians or Syriacs". There are those who are mobilizing to "found a new party" and those who "plan to organize a Chaldean conference, and it is certainly not for the good of the Chaldeans".
The divisions among Iraqi Christians - the Patriarch insists - "lead us to self-destruction", a scenario that must be avoided by not calling the Chaldeans to unite "around their identity and their Church". Patriarch Sako, who is currently engaged in a trip to Saudi Arabia, claims his support for the unity of the Churches, recalling that "unity is achieved with strong people, not with opportunists". The Iraqi Cardinal also points out that the divisions that infiltrate among Christians in Iraq and the Middle East have a political nature. The Patriarch invites everyone to consider what is happening in Lebanon, where Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raï's attempts to bring together the Maronite political parties to elect a President of the Republic "have not been successful." "There is no salvation for us - concludes Cardinal Sako - without unity and solidarity, especially since our numbers in Iraq are decreasing and our presence is threatened". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 20/2/2024)