Leaders from Muslim, Yazidi, Christian and Kurdish communities took part in the celebration of the ordainment of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako as Cardinal, following his return from the Vatican.
In Baghdad, religious leaders, diplomats and community representatives from across Iraq gathered to celebrate the ordainment of Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako following his return from the Vatican. Cardinal Sako has become the third Iraqi to be ordained by the Vatican.
“This celebration witnessed the presence of Sabeans, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Kurds and Yazidis, in addition to [representatives from] all [of Iraq’s] sects, ministers, diplomats and ambassadors,” said Bishop Basel Salim Yaldo, Curial Bishop of Babylon. “They all came here to celebrate this occasion, which is the ordainment of the Cardinal.”
Religious and community leaders alike praised the Vatican’s decision to ordain Cardinal Sako, who has worked tirelessly to promote interfaith relations within Iraq, as well as to encourage the proliferation of peace post-ISIS.
“We have worked extensively with Cardinal Sako. We have worked with him in the past and hopefully [we will continue to work with him] in the future,” said Zaid Bahr al-Uloom, a scholar of Islam from Baghdad. “We are aware of the way he thinks. He has love and care for all Iraqis. This is what we noticed from his activities and statements.”
During the celebration, Cardinal Sako spoke of the need to speed up the formation of the Iraqi Government and for it to resume its obligations to the Iraqi people. Moreover, Cardinal Sako spoke of the need to counter the country’s endemic corruption.
“The division between the government and the people is dangerous,” said Cardinal Sako. “There is a need to speed up the process of forming a new national and strong civil government in accordance with the constitution. The government needs to set up a general strategy for the country’s development, in order to boost the economy, provide services, fight corruption and save the country from division and fragmentation.”
Cardinal Sako’s speech has come as a response to the protests that have swept across southern Iraq since July 8th, which have led to the deaths of 14 people. Protesters in the country’s oil-rich south are demanding greater access to economic opportunities, an end to corruption in the local and national government and improvements to the southern province’s supply of clean water and electricity.