Patriarch Louis Raphael Card. Sako
I thank God, for granting me a special grace to face the unsubstantiated media campaign, launched against me across social media, I have sufficiently refuted these fabrications, and those who followed the events closely, understood the truth.
On this occasion, it is worth reminding that issuing false accusations, bribing, corrupting and forbidden money are not “acts” of a true faithful (whether Christians or Muslims).
In the case of selling and / or exchanging property, the Church requests a license from the government departments, we do not need a permission or approval from “other’s”. Moreover, we won’t sell old Churches and shrines but rather treasure it as our precious heritage. The Church has been attacked for: refusing to bribe or be bribed; standing by the truth; and for not flattering people’s mistakes.
Along history, the Chaldean Church and its institutions have contributed with its spiritual and moral power in preserving national unity and defending Iraq in the international forums (the Security Council, the European Union and different conferences); also, in a unique precedent, this Church played a major role in achieving the historic visit of Pope Francis to Iraq (March 5-8, 2021); hence promoting Christian-Islamic dialogue and cooperation as well as fraternity and citizenship values; and still assisting thousands of needy families from Basrah to Zakho, with food, medicines and blankets through “Caritas” and Churches directly, especially during the displacement crisis in 2014, carried out by ISIS.
Regarding the intervention in politics: it was not for the sake of partisanship for certain party, but to enlighten consciences about the common good and issues of concern to human dignity. Knowing that humankind was the focus of the message of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 4/ 18-19), whose stances were strict in defending human rights and dignity. This is the focus of the Church’s service, that should be carried out honestly and never given up. I constantly call for establishing peace and security in Iraq by building a civil state of law and justice, a state of citizenship and equality, a state that respects human rights, fights corruption and uncontrolled weapons. So did the Muslim authorities on Friday sermons. It goes without saying that I insisted to respect the quota of the Christian component.
After 2003 a structural, cultural and moral problems emerged, that the government should address through its educational and media institutions, in addition to training on our prevailing values and well-known principles. This is everyone’s responsibility. If these values collapse, our civilization collapses!
Whoever (a person or a party) thinks that he is above the law and allows himself to transgress it, is only hindering the fight against corruption and the establishment of a state of law!
Since Christian and Muslim religious authorities are linked to the Iraqi society and have clear national credibility, they play an influential role in preserving the national fabric against those who want to tear it apart. Accordingly, religious authorities should be treated with respect and protected from being abused or assaulted, as indicated by Article 12 of the Iraqi constitution.
After these “long” weeks of this crisis, I would like to thank dearly all persons (Christians and Muslims) in Iraq and abroad, who declared their closeness and solidarity with the Chaldean Church by all means:
- Calls, in particular; Mr. Masrour Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government; Dr. Ayad Allawi, the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Tiaar Al-Hekma.
- Visits, of solidarity and offering help to solve the problems, among them: Mr. Qasem Al Arajy, National Security Advisor; the twice visit of Ms. Alina L. Romanowski, the US Ambassador; a group of eleven European ambassadors, Ambassador Safia Al-Suhail with her Husband Dr. Bakhtiar Amin; and other prestigious individuals and groups.
- Letters, statements and articles received from bishops, priests, monks and nuns; the ecclesiastical, cultural, political parties, Sheikes, organizations of civil and democratic society, condemning this unprecedented attack. I extend my heartfelt thanks also to the patriarchate staff, advisors and last but not least the reliable media that monitored this event decently.
Many thanks to those who raised their prayers for the Church. I will treasure their love, their prayers and the many messages renewed my hope and energy. I wish them all good health, safety and happiness.
“out of the strong came sweetness” (Judges 14/14).
The past few weeks were tiring in deed, but our trust in God is unshakable and confirms that light is stronger than darkness, that despite the pain, this attack revealed some positive impact:
- Showed the Church’s vitality and strength in facing false accusations, distortion and doubting its credibility.
- United Christians, especially Chaldeans, through their prayers and stances, rather than dividing them as some people predicted, as if the problem was among Christians. What happened was an attack on the head of the Chaldean Church and through it on the Christian component. I hope that all Churches will take off with independency, new strength and a new spirituality.
- Created among Christians, awareness of their roles and rights, evidently shown by their manifestation of solidarity in Tahrir Square on Friday evening, May 13, 2023, raising their heads and voices proudly in condemning the attack and demanding the protection of their rights. I hope that this attack made them realize the importance of voting (in the upcoming election) for those who are more capable and honest in representing them and able to contribute in achieving “equal citizenship for all”. On this occasion, I extend my deep thanks to the Iraqi security forces who dealt professionally.
- Proved that conviviality still runs in the veins of Iraqis, clarified by solidarity of honorable Iraqis with us in spite of their diverse religions and cultures. I call upon them all to use this energy in making coexistence a reality.
- Revealed the nature of people whether they are honest, loyal, insensible, paid unprincipled critics, apathetic bystanders…
Finally, I reject all their accusations “i.e. passive tolerance” and stick to forgiveness – conversion. When they apologize or if we have to go to the court, we are ready (the Patriarchate has prepared a complete file to refute these lies one by one with documented evidence. As soon as the truth is revealed, I will declare “without meeting them” my forgiveness from the bottom of my heart, as the Lord Jesus Christ did with His crucifiers (Luke 23/ 34). In my priestly life, I never accepted “wrong things”, nor did I submit to it or bargain at the expense of the truth, but I did not take revenge, I did not hold hatred, and I never wished harm to anyone, even those who disagreed with me, rather I prayed for them. May repentance change them.
Yes, Iraq is still in a good shape as long as there are great and compassionate people in it! hoping that this force of good will grow.
Thanks for standing by the truth