Coptic Solidarity Leads Statement Urging Reinstatement of Chaldean Patriarch Sako
Washington, Sept. 28, 2023 /Christian Newswire/ —
Today Coptic Solidarity published a public statement signed by 86 non-profit organizations, parliamentarians and former legislators, and a wide variety of individual experts, urging the immediate reinstatement of Patriarch Sako to his position as head of the Chaldean Church.
The statement says:
“We, the undersigned, would also like to express our wholehearted support for Patriarch Sako—for speaking truth to power, defending his persecuted community, and safeguarding the properties of Iraqi Christians, and those of the Chaldean Church, while also noting that Patriarch Sako has been a strong advocate for religious freedom for all peoples”.
In July of this year, Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid rescinded presidential decree 147 of 2013, which recognized Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako as Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq and worldwide. Copts are particularly sensitive to this effort to undermine and sideline Patriarch Sako, having been through a similar situation with their previous Pope. In 1981, Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, rescinded the presidential decree of 1971, which recognized Pope Shenouda III as the Pope of Alexandria. Pope Shenouda was banished to a desert monastery, and despite the government’s efforts to undermine his leadership, he continued to direct ecclesiastical affairs for the Coptic Orthodox Church during his captivity. It wasn’t until January 1985 that President Mubarak officially reinstated Pope Shenouda to his position as Pope of Alexandria, after extensive pressure by the Copts (within Egypt and in the Diaspora) and by their supporters.
Based in this experience, Coptic Solidarity believes it is vital that the international community speak out against President Rashid’s effort to further marginalize and remove the ancient Chaldean peoples of Iraq. The statement expresses a belief that “the Presidential decree and concomitant campaign are ultimately intimidation tactics employed against Iraqi Christians—designed to drive them into forced migration in order to seize their properties”.
The signatories urge the Iraqi Government to:
- To revoke Republican Decree No. 31 issued on July 3, 2023.
- To ensure the safe return of the Patriarch to his seat in Baghdad and provide him with due protection so that he can fulfill his religious and spiritual role, as well as his administrative duties in overseeing the properties of the Chaldean Church
- To remember its sworn duty to protect the lives and properties of religious minorities, including the Christian community; and to return the properties that have been seized since 2014, so that forcibly displaced individuals can return to their homes and businesses.
The signatories stand in solidarity with Patriarch Sako and the Christians of Iraq, to ensure that they obtain full religious freedom and citizenship rights, including the ability to worship in their historical land.