Chaldean Patriarchate cancels Easter appearances protesting against Patriarch Sako's removal

Chaldean Patriarchate cancels Easter appearances protesting against Patriarch Sako's removal

Shafaq News/ On Monday, the Chaldean Patriarchate in Iraq announced canceling all the Easter festive appearances in protest against the "removal" of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako from his historical headquarters in Baghdad.

On July 2023, Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid recently decided to revoke the validity of Presidential Decree No. 147 of 2013, which conferred upon Cardinal Sako the legal jurisdiction as the head of the Chaldean Church.

A statement from the Patriarchate stated, "We are approaching the blessed Easter (March 31st), which crowns the Lenten Journey, a time of sacrifice and sharing in Christ's pain."

"Because this occasion is a spiritual and heartfelt one lived by the believers with the spirit of hope amidst all the pains, sorrows, and challenges surrounding them…the Chaldean Patriarchate announces the cancellation of all festivities, media coverage, and receptions of government officials on the occasion of Easter, opting instead for prayers, in solidarity with our Father, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, who has been staying away from his historical headquarters in Baghdad for six months now…"

The statement added, "The Patriarch did not kill or steal public funds, did not form an outlaw militia, and did not incite sectarian strife. On the contrary, he defended the rights of citizens and full citizenship, contributed to interfaith dialogue, and helped hundreds of Iraqi families across Iraq through the Patriarchate and the Brotherhood of Love."

The statement quoted Sako as saying, "He will never compromise on his dignity, the dignity of the Church, and the dignity of Christians, and he will not bow to anyone except for his church and his homeland," urging Christians to remain "steadfast, prayerful, and confident that those in positions of power and leadership will not remain in their positions indefinitely, but the Church will endure and not be broken, with the help of God, and perpetuity belongs to nations and peoples," according to the statement.

Easter holds significant meaning for Christians, symbolizing a day of joy and hope as they commemorate the belief in Jesus' triumph over death through resurrection after his crucifixion.

In Iraq, the past two decades of consecutive conflicts have had a profound impact on ancient Christian communities, once vibrant and integral parts of the region's fabric, now scattered and often in ruins.

Before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq boasted a Christian population of nearly 1.5 million.

Unfortunately, Christians became among the initial targets during the security breakdown and sectarian violence that persisted for years following the invasion.

Iraq's Christian heritage dates back to the early centuries of the religion, encompassing diverse churches such as Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian, and Armenian, each contributing to the rich tapestry of Iraq's religious and cultural landscape.

President Rashid's decision has generated vehement reactions and stirred substantial controversy within Iraqi circles.

In a meeting with the Chargé d'Affaires of the Vatican State Embassy in Iraq, it was asserted that the withdrawal of Patriarch Louis Sako's decree was motivated by a desire to rectify a constitutional situation.

The decision to rescind the presidential decree has instigated a contentious state of affairs. This consequential move led to the subsequent summoning of Sako to appear before the judiciary, which compelled him to transfer his religious authorities to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, thereby arousing considerable consternation and "anger" amongst the Iraqi Christian community.

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