News 17 Jul 2023

Patriarch Sako leaves Baghdad in response to Iraqi president

His Eminence Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch and the leader of the Chaldean Church, has publicly announced his decision to “withdraw from the patriarchal seat in Baghdad, and go to one of the monasteries in Iraqi Kurdistan."

The announcement was made in a statement sent to the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and published in Arabic on the official website of the Chaldean Patriarchate on 15 July. 

The cardinal thus reacts to “all the fateful events” and the “deliberate and humiliating campaign” against him in recent days and to “the president of the republic’s decision to withdraw the republican decree from me, which is unprecedented in the history of Iraq”, Sako stated.

The current President of the Republic of Iraq has chosen to rescind a Republican Decree established earlier by former President Jalal Talabani. This decree had recognised His Eminence Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako as Patriarch and leader of the Chaldean Church. The justification for this action was that it has no constitutional or legal basis. 

The decision to leave Baghdad has also been backed by "the absence of any deterrent against offenders" and "government silence", stated the document.

Cardinal Sako also described the decision of the president as an act “against the Christian community, that suffered a lot”. On Monday, Patriarch Sako had already written an open letter to President Rashid, describing the latter's decision as an unprecedented "danger" against the Christian community in Iraq. He also warned that if the president did not withdraw his decision, he would file a legal case against it.

- By Maria Lozano 

Featured Image: Patriarch Louis Raphael I. Sako. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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