The head of the Chaldean Church has accused Iraqi politicians and bishops of inaction and corruption amid the “ceaseless exodus” of the country’s Christian population. Source: The Tablet.
Cardinal Louis Sako, the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, published an uncompromising statement on Christian emigration on January 10, accusing the Iraqi Government of “double-standards in democracy, freedom, constitution, law and citizenship”.
He said that political failure had caused “a decline in moral and national values” and a deterioration in public infrastructure, driving emigration.
“The Iraqi Government is not serious about offering justice to Christians,” he said. “They say nice words and pay lip service, but offer no action.”
Cardinal Sako criticised the country’s Christian leadership, saying that its political representation had been compromised by the Babylon Brigades – a nominally Christian militia backed by Iran, which has made public attacks on the patriarch. Cardinal Sako said that “national, tribal and rural fanaticism” undermined efforts to unite Christians.
The Chaldean Church is the largest of the 14 denominations and communities among Iraq’s 250,000 Christians, and Cardinal Sako has previously encouraged other churches to cooperate or amalgamate with it. These had failed, he said in his statement, “due to the inability of some clergy to make critical decisions and the exploitation of the Babylon movement, which played a role in deceiving some bishops through temptations of money, power and leadership opportunities”.
Although he did not name any bishops, Cardinal Sako defined two groups for criticism – one that adhered to “traditional authority and ritual practice in a routine fashion” and ignored the pressing needs of the laity”, and a second group that were “submissive” and “blinded by money”, adding that “their corruption is known to the people”.
Cardinal Sako said that “most of the bishops of the Chaldean Church” and the heads of other denominations belonged to a third group, of “brave shepherds, resolute leaders, beacons of light and rays of hope”.
These bishops, he said, should form a “crisis task force” to secure the future of Christianity in Iraq.
Sako appeals for Church unity to save Iraq’s Christian population (By Patrick Hudson, The Tablet)