Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako: Christian exodus from Iraq accelerates
The migration of Christians out of Iraq will accelerate. This was the view held by the head of the Chaldean-Catholic Church, Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako.
In an interview with the international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need given on Saturday, June 28th in Ankawa, near Erbil, he said, "When I was in Turkey recently ten Christian
families from Mosul arrived. And in the space of only one week twenty families
left Alqosh, a completely Christian town not far from Mosul. This is very
serious. We are losing our community. If Christian life in Iraq comes to an
end, this will be a hiatus in our history."
The head of the Chaldean-Catholic
Church, which is in full communion with Rome, sees the future of Christians in
Iraq as being under threat: "In ten years there will perhaps be 50,000
Christians left. Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within ten
years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps four to five hundred thousand
The Patriarch, who resides in Baghdad, also regards the disintegration of Iraq
as inevitable: "Perhaps there will be a symbolic unit and the name Iraq
may continue to exist. But de facto there will be three independent zones with
their own budgets and armies." He shared with other bishops the view that
the situation would continue to deteriorate, Sako said. "At present there
are three fragments of Iraq, a Sunni one, a Kurdish one and a Shiite one. The
Kurds already enjoy autonomy anyway. The Shiites do as well in a sense. Now the
Sunnis are following suit. Iraq will therefore be divided up."
The effects of the
disintegration of the state on the country's Christian community are not yet definitively
foreseeable in the view of Louis Raphael I. "To be honest we Bishops are
somewhat at a loss at the present time. The future may lie in Kurdistan. Many
Christians are already living there after all. But there are also many who live
in Baghdad, and there are also some in Basra in the Shiite south. We must wait
and see how things develop."
Sako sharply criticized the behavior
of the western states: "They find football more interesting than the
situation here or in Syria. Western policy only pursues economic interests. The
international community should put pressure on Iraqi politicians to make them
find a political solution and form a government of national unity."
Sako regards the Sunni
terrorist organization ISIS as a danger extending beyond Iraq. "ISIS
intends to found an Islamic state with oil wells in order to Islamize the
world. I think this is a danger for all." The Patriarch does not discount
the possibility of finding a political way out of the present crisis:
"Such a possibility will still exist if the west and our neighbors such as
Iran, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia want it to."
With picture of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako (©ACN)