In protest of decree revoking Cardinal Sako's standing

Chaldean Patriarchate cancels Easter celebrations

BAGHDAD – The Chaldean Patriarchate of Iraq has canceled Easter celebrations in protest of the Iraqi authorities’ decision last year to revoke a 2013 presidential decree that formally appointed Cardinal Mar Louis Raphael I Sako as “the Patriarch of the Chaldeans in Iraq and the world and a trustee of their endowments.”

However, in July of last year, President Abdul Latif Rashid revoked the 2013 presidential decree on grounds of unconstitutionality. Subsequently, in November, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq upheld the legality of Rashid’s decision.

Now, the Chaldean Patriarchate has expressed its dismay, asserting “a lack of constitutional and legal basis for the withdrawal of the decree from Patriarch Sako.” The statement emphasized the inconsistency of the decision, asking, “Why was the decree withdrawn from Patriarch Sako and not from other, lower-ranking clergy members?” Highlighting the historical significance, the Patriarchate pointed out that “this tradition of granting decrees to senior Christian clergy dates back 14 centuries,” underscoring the abrupt end to a decade-long acknowledgment of Cardinal Sako’s position.

The Patriarchate characterized the decision as an unwarranted political maneuver, diverting attention from pressing national issues such as corruption.
The Chaldean Patriarchate’s latest statement has raised renewed concerns about the potential politicization of religious appointments.

Some interpret the presidential decree as potentially enabling the Babiliyoun Movement, the political arm of a Christian militia, to assume control over the assets of the Christian Church in areas under the federal government’s jurisdiction.

Cardinal Sako, known for his advocacy for citizen rights and interfaith dialogue, has remained defiant against the decision so far. In July, he relocated from Baghdad to Kurdistan in protest of the decree.

In its statement, the Chaldean Patriarchate underscored the transient nature of political appointments compared to the enduring values of the church and the homeland. It also critiqued the government’s priorities, arguing that efforts should be directed towards combating corruption and theft.

The Patriarchate’s cancellation of Easter celebrations symbolizes solidarity with Cardinal Sako and protests what it perceives as unjust and selective legal practices. The dispute highlights broader concerns regarding religious authority, legal rights, and their implications for Iraq’s Christian community amid ongoing political and legal challenges.