The American Middle East Christian Congress shares the Assyrian Church of the East in their sorrows in the passing of Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV

Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East dies at age of 79

The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV. He died on March 26 at the age of 79.
(Vatican Radio) The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, died on Thursday at the age of 79. He assumed his office in 1976.

The Assyrian Church of the East was separated from the rest of the Christian world when it refused to accept the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon in the fifth century, but under Mar Dinkha IV the Church has been very active in the Ecumenical movement, and together with Pope St. John Paul II, signed the “Common Christological Declaration Between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church” on November 11, 1994, and has signed several other statements, both with the Vatican, and the Chaldean Catholic Church.

The Assyrian Church of the East issued a statement saying: “His Holiness had dedicated his entire life, to serving our Lord and our Holy Church. All his life he worked hard to be a spiritual father to us all. Heaven has welcomed him today and may he rest in peace.”


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Iraqi Christian Leader Makes Direct Appeal at UN

Patriarch Sako compares current crisis to 1915 Armenian genocide
John Burger (253)
The leader of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholics at the United Nations in New York today urged international leaders to support his country’s government in a drive for “the liberation of all Iraqi cities.

For the first time, the UN Security Council devoted a debate to the persecution of minorities under attack by jihadists, according to ANSAMed, a service of the Italian news agency ANSA. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius chaired the debate, which included Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad Louis Raphael I Sako, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and, by video-conference from Geneva, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein.

“Frankly, the so-called Arab Spring impacted negatively on us,” Patriarch Sako told the meeting. He said that Muslim extremists are unwilling to tolerate other faiths, and conditions have deteriorated for religious minorities.

“At the same time, it is important to understand that these terroristic acts should not be generalized to all Muslims,” Patriarch Sako said. “In fact, there is a silent and peaceful majority of Muslims that reject such politicization of the religion.”

The Iraqi prelate cautioned that military action alone cannot solve the problems facing the country, according to Catholic Culture. He urged a concerted effort to counter religious extremism, end support for terrorists, and ensure the restoration of the rule of law.

In the absence of effective action, the Patriarch said, the situation could easily become more dangerous, and violence could escalate.

“Millions of children and young people are deprived of schools and education,” he said. “Millions of refugees are being in camps without care and attention. The growing frustration, unemployment and poverty could easily develop an atmosphere of revenge and extremism.”

ANSA noted that France holds the alternating presidency of the security council, and chose to focus on the issue after reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations by ISIS. Those are now well known and include the expulsion of Christians from their ancestral homes, the attack on the Yezidis, the killings of Kurds, the hostage-taking of hundreds of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in northeastern Syria and the decapitation of 21 men, including 20 Coptic Christians, in Libya. “The deliberate destruction of religious sanctuaries and archaeological finds as well as illicit trafficking by ISIS to finance terrorism activities also played a part in the reason for the Security Council meeting,” the report said.

Following France’s announcement early this month that a UN Security Council meeting would be held on the issue, a joint declaration was made on March 13 by the Vatican, Russia and Lebanon to the Geneva Human Rights Council, undersigned by 65 UN member states calling on the international community to support all ethnic and religious communities that have their roots in the Middle East. These communities, it continued, are threatened by ISIS, Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups and Christians are at risk of disappearing from the area entirely. Christian authorities have in recent months spoken out against the lack of response from the international community on violence by ISIS, which even the Pope has called for ”proportional” force to be used against.

Here is the full text of Patriarch Sako’s UN address, sent to AsiaNews:

On behalf of Christians of different ethnic and cultural denominations who are facing and enduring severe trial in the Middle East, I extend my thanks to the French government for leading this humanitarian initiative, especially to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs H. E. Laurent Fabius.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you may know, this year is the centenary of the massacres against Christians in 1915. Now a hundred years later, we are living a similar catastrophic situation, which pushes many families to leave the country. It is a big loss for all. Frankly, the so-called Arab Spring impacted negatively on us. While if we had the opportunity of working in harmony with the mosaic of religions and ethnic groups in our region, there would have been a driving force in the region towards peace, stability and progress.

From this tribune, I would like to convey a message inspired by the spiritual and humanitarian values: The positive coexistence, on the basis of justice and peace in the spirit of love and citizenship, should remain at the upper level of priorities for the Security Council and the United Nations.

With regards to my country, I call for supporting the Central Government and the Regional Government of Kurdistan towards the liberation of all Iraqi cities and for us Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks especially the city of Mosul as well as the towns in the Nineveh plain and villages; providing an International Protection for their inhabitants, who were forced to be displaced from their homes (Secure Zone); and promulgating a Real Estate and Property Law that ensure their rights in their lands, and enabling them to return home and resume their lives in a normal way. There is also a responsibility for the Central Government to compensate them for the damages incurred.

The major problem lies in understanding the different factors of state: religion, citizenship, individuals, community, the role of woman and the national education, in order to live together in peace and respect.

The Islamic extremist groups refuse to live with non-Muslims. They are persecuting and uprooting them from their homes and erasing their history (the memory). It is an ideological crisis and a way to monopolize the power, disabling institutions and restricting freedom.

This horrifying situation needs to establish principles, based on international laws, aiming to prevent this catastrophic discrimination against the human being and the mankind.

At the same time, it is important to understand that these terroristic acts should not be generalized to all Muslims. In fact, there is a silent and peaceful majority of Muslims that reject such politicization of the religion; they are accepting to live a common life with others within the civil state and according to the law.

Peace and stability cannot be achieved solely by military actions; as they are unable to dismantle this clustered way of thinking that destroys human beings and stones – the civilization.

This indicates that the international community including the Arab League and the Conference of the Islamic Countries are required to take legal decisions and definitive measures. This could be achieved by adopting political, cultural and educational solutions. These solutions should be appropriate to protect the national mosaic represented by individuals, persons and groups regardless of their religion and ethnic background. They have to safeguard the rights of all citizens and strengthen the relations among them.

Particular attention should be paid to a more significant threat. Millions of children and young people are deprived of schools and education. Millions of refugees are being in camps without care and attention. The growing frustration, unemployment and poverty could easily develop an atmosphere of revenge and extremism. Therefore there is the necessity to take care of these refugees responding to their needs and decreasing their pain.

A practical process is proposed to get out of this vicious cycle:

1. To claim, through the United Nations, the executive policy-based on updating of the constitutions and laws. This would promote justice, equality and dignity for all, as citizens without discriminating a group in a favor of another. It is imperative that our countries acquire civil governments where equality is granted among all citizens. These governments are responsible for the protection of all individuals and preserve the integral rights of all their citizens.

2. To encourage religious leaders so as to adopt a moderate discourse that deepens the sense of citizenship. They have to adopt a culture of belonging to their country and not exclusively to their religious denominations or tribes. A necessary factor is the reform of educational programs that would enhance the principles of respect between citizens and promote tolerance and communication. This would condemn division, hatred and spirit of revenge. All this will protect generations from the consequences of extremism, violence and terrorism. In order to achieve this, the Religious Hierarchy has to present an appropriate exegetic explanation of the religious texts, with zero tolerance to extracting the religious texts from their contexts.

3. To pass a law that criminalizes all states and individuals who support terrorist groups financially or intellectually or with arms, and held them accountable, and consider their acts as a crime towards social peace.

4. To promote the development of organizations for human rights and civil society. These organizations should be supported such that they don’t only have a consulting role, but rather an executive one and thus on both levels: the regional and the international one.

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The Untold Story

By Ramsay F. Dass, MD

The untold story of those whose ancestors were the cradle of civilization, they built the pyramids, the hanging garden of Babylon, the Tower of Nimrod and the civilizing of rules and regulations by Nabght Nossr by the early astrology, math and science.

AMECC Panorama


  • Written by:

by Louis Raphael I Sako*
On the second anniversary of his election, the Patriarch appeals for the unity of the Eastern Churches and announces the formation of “a joint committee of dialogue”. He recalls the “joyful mission” to “witness” the Gospel “to the world today.” Finally, Mar Sako appeals for Christians to “remain” close to the suffering of “our displaced brothers and sisters of all denominations.”
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – Seeking “the unity of the Church of the East in all its branches”; the formation of a joint committee of dialogue”; because it is a Christian’s duty to foster “unity and be ecumenical” and the challenge of “unity in love”. This is the message that his Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, wants to launch through AsiaNews two years after his election as Chaldean Patriarch, on 31 January 2013. In a pastoral letter published on the occasion of his second anniversary, Mar. Sako relaunches the commitment to ‘unity between the Churches of the East, often divided and marked by ancient conflicts and deep lacerations”. Our identity – he says – is an integral part of a Chaldean Catholic Church and the Universal Church, a mission and a joyful witness to the Gospel in today’s world”.

In the message, the Chaldean Patriarch warns against hiding behind the cloak “of nationalism, politics or partisanship” because “all this would lead the Church to lose its ecclesial Christian identity!”. He calls for unity “in the same vocational journey” and, in a difficult time, ensures that the Church “will emerge stronger and more pure.” Finally, Mar Sako appeals for people to “remain close to our forcefully displaced brothers from all denominations who are suffering, they are worried and scared”; and asks to pray “for the Church, for peace in Iraq and in the region”.

Here, below, the message sent to AsiaNews by the Chaldean Patriarch:

Beloved daughters and sons of the Chaldean Church, I would like to extend to you a message, in order to mark the second anniversary of the “Cross, which I carry, together with many other brothers and sisters “. I want to express my full love to you, those belonging to the Chaldean Church, and to all Iraqis of all faiths and affiliations.

During the past two years I have learned a lot from many of you, and I got to know many people. I have suffered a lot, and I have also benefited from the criticism, (lessons to learn).

First of all I want to thank all of those who contributed to my learning, for their understanding and their support for what was much accomplished and for the many doors of enlightenment were opened!

What happened -within our Chaldean Community Church- is the natural evolution of the Patriarchal succession, of carrying special existing circumstances of the times and present. The situation has coincided with the acceleration of events in the Iraqi arena and the region, such as comprised displacements, persecutions and emigration. There was no other way but to deal frankly if not squarely with the old and new serious circumstances; the situations in our Church were influenced by intellectual short sightedness, by a lack of spirituality and legal ethic, as well as by inappropriate upbringing. This was also triggered by a bizarre temper and human nature as well as by personal ambitions. We cannot exclude the local inheritance of certain concepts of power, which still reside in some persons from a certain unfortunate sense of tribal superiority and domination, with such mental stance happening instead of projecting a humble, faithful and generous ministry. However, we will persevere in adhering to Evangelical principles and Christian Hope; to transform our Chaldean church in a unified church together with its Clergy and faithful followers. We want this Chaldean Church to be neat and disciplined, powerful, influential but open to get influenced while carrying the principles of charity and transparency, respect for talents and diversity, searching for continuous betterment, and refusing a monolithic or single perspective, individually created here and there which can wrongly isolate entities in their attitude. The church is not a matter to gamble and isolation suicides!

Our Identity comprises A Universal Chaldean Catholic Church, a joyful mission and a witness to the Gospel for the world of today. This Church is not to follow exclusively behind nationalist, political or partisan acts because it would make the Church lose its Christian ecclesiastic identity! Thus we reassure everyone that these difficulties, challenges and pressures which we are facing, will not stop us from cleaning and regenerating the Chaldean Church. Therefor we will adjust its laws according to the canonical criteria and we will strengthen them as the Lord wants, as our people expect, and in the courageous footsteps of Pope Francis, sent by God as an opportune grace.

I do know my responsibility and its obligations, and I know that the administration create supporters and opponents, and the truth has the price, nevertheless I am ready to pursue to no end, since as I am depending on the blessing of God, as well as inspired by the Laws of the Church, while being supported by a sufficient Episcopal consensus as well as being also supported by the existence of a wide base of believers. I will cooperate with all people of good will, and with all churches, seeking in particular the unity of the “Church of the East” in all its branches. This should herald and show that a “joint dialogue committee” will be formed soon. A Christian should be unionist and ecumenical. Unity in love is a challenge!

In this New Year, I call on everyone to read deeply into the past, to learn the lessons shown to us with a degree of high spirituality and open a new page of relationship, free of prejudices. Naturally, rumors and gossiping are not to be believed in or followed; they are just a form of burning out oneself, and aiming to burn the church. I call all to work together as a team, without transforming divergent opinions into conflicts and huff; such an attitude would not worthy of our history and our priesthood in its various orders; let us live our priesthood as supreme message in accordance to the calling of Christ. Being together on the same vocational path, let us love our church and let us strive for its renaissance and for contributing to its resurrection. Let us pray for this intention. Whoever is praying is abiding in Christ. Spiritually it is a hard time for the church, but surely she will come out of it stronger and pure.

The consecration of two new bishops is a sign of renewed hope for the Chaldean Church.

At this time we have to stand strongly with our displaced people of all denominations who are suffering, worried, and frightened. Let us use all our possibilities to raise their spirits, and to nurture hope in their heart. Evil has no future. The storm will certainly pass. We are today, with our experience and belief change agents and active witnesses of Hope. We are guardian of our mission. We are carrying a history and message. Do not let this opportunity pass!

Pray for the church, for peace in Iraq and the region and for the relief of our displaced brothers and sisters through their rapid return to their homes and towns.

May our Lord bless all of you,-two-years-as-Chaldean-Patriarch:-Main-challenge-is-the-unity-of-the-Church-in-the-East-33327.html

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By Inés San Martín
Vatican correspondent
Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad spoke during a July 22 news conference in Erbil, Iraq. (Reuters)
ERBIL, IRAQ—The top Catholic official in Iraq says the current US-led bombing campaign will not dislodge the radical Islamic State, and he is pleading for a stronger response from the international community to ensure Christians can remain in the region.


“Bombing is also killing people, destroying the infrastructure, houses, schools, churches,” said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church.


“There’s no military solution for the conflict, especially when there are no troops on the ground providing assistance,” he said.


Sako spoke to Crux in Iraq, during a 48-hour pilgrimage led by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France. Together with 100 of his flock, Barbarin traveled to Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, to spend the weekend with more than 400,000 people displaced by violence.


Sako, who leads 500,000 faithful, said the only way ISIS could be expelled is through cooperation between the international coalition led by the United States and the Iraqi central government.


He said that for many months “the world turned its back” to what was happening in Iraq and Syria, where almost a half-million Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities currently live in “crowded cabins or out in the open, in small tents that cannot shelter them from the cold winter.”


Sako said the presence of Christians in the Middle East is an unparalleled tool for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.


“What’s going on in Iraq is a tragedy, and it’s an international moral duty to help those who are paying the price of fundamentalism to stay at home,” he said.


Sako said that without Christians, the region would lose important gifts.


“They’re an elite of very well-educated people that hope to remain in their country,” he said. “If they’re away, fundamentalist groups start running around the area. It’ll be just like it was when we had the Taliban.


For Sako, the French delegation’s visit had two meanings.


“They came to support the displaced families, to remind them that they’re not alone nor isolated,” he said, “and also to show with concrete action that they’re supporting us, praying for us.”




Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, talked to reporters at the Vatican March 4, 2013, the first day the College of Cardinals met to begin the process of electing a new pope. (/Tony Gentile/Reuters)

French cardinal: Christians must condemn Islamist violence

Pope denounces ‘inhuman’ ISIS violence in message to refugees

The celebration of the Immaculate Conception in Erbil, Iraq. (Ines San Martin/Crux staff)

Festival of Lights’ backs Iraqi Christians facing ISIS threat



The patriarch said the Church plays a key role in keeping the spirits of the refugees up. Sako, also president of Iraq’s conference of bishops, said he will not resign himself to seeing his country without Christians.


But to avoid that fate, he said it’s time to have all hands on deck. That includes the return of a dozen priests who fled the country after ISIS took possession of Mosul, Qaraqosh, and other cities with large Christian populations.


“We’re pastors, we should stay,” Sako said. “We have to take care of our flock. We’re consecrated people, we have to make sacrifices, give a good example.”


Nine of those priests have sought refuge in the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter based in the San Diego area.


Those priests have refused the call to go back, even when Sako declared them suspended for not respecting their vow of “obedience to their superiors.”


The Rev. Noel Gorgis told an ABC affiliate in San Diego in late October that returning to Iraq right now as a Catholic priest would be “suicide.” He said that if Francis orders him to do so he would comply, but “I don’t believe he’ll say go kill yourself.”


Sako isn’t backing down, saying simply “they have to come back.”


“They don’t have permission to stay away,” he said. “Five came back. Why are the others refusing to do the same? Seeing a priest leaving his parish, abandoning his flock creates confusion. This is not good.”


“A priest has given himself to the Lord and to service his people. He shouldn’t seek his freedom, his safety,” he said.


Though rare, there are examples of lay Iraqi Christians who have made the choice to come back.


Iraqi brothers Salwan and Nashwan Zaitor, together with their parents and most of their family, fled Iraq in 1993 and resettled in the Netherlands. While there, they founded Babylon Media Group and built a successful company abroad.


Though they were conscious of the rise in Christian persecution, they nonetheless decided to return home, along with their wives and children, in 2005. Today, Babylon Media, based in Erbil, has more than 240 employees.


“We’re probably the only case of Christians who, having left Iraq and built a successful life elsewhere, decided to come back,” Salwan said.


“We want to stay, because this is our place, where we belong,” he said. “God put us here. He wants us to remain here.”


It was because of Babylon’s technical support that thousands of refugees were able to watch a video message from Pope Francis Saturday in which he condemned the “inhuman violence” done to Christians and other religious minorities.


Another Christian leader in Iraq said the world is turning a blind eye to “genocide.”


“Two million Yazidis and Christians are in danger of being killed by ISIS,” said Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil.


Like Sako and the Zaitor brothers, Warda believes the situation here demands a global response.


“What’s happening is in Iraq and Syria, but it’s a global issue,” he said. “We have American citizens, British, Australians, and Dutch that are fighting for ISIS. The world has to get involved.”


Warda told Crux that the international involvement on the fight against the rise of the terrorist group should take a more committed shape, saying that “two or three years of fighting” won’t solve the problem.


When asked what ordinary Christians can do to show support, Warda said prayers are very important. He also encouraged people to send letters to Erbil as messages of hope for those living in the refuge centers.


“We’re receiving some, but many more should come,” he said. “A letter for Christmas or Easter would be a great gift for many.”


For those who can provide material support but don’t know how, Warda said there are many Catholic agencies currently funding projects, such as “Adopt a Refugee Family,” led by the Jesuits, or the different campaigns of “Aid to the Church in Need.”


“If you can help provide a warm night to a family that has lost it all, please, please, do so,” Warda said.


That show of solidarity is making an impact on Iraqis.


Salwan Zaitor, one of the Babylon Media brothers, was moved by the French delegation’s visit.


“We don’t need money as much as we need to know you’re here, with us,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “And that’s what they did: they came and prayed with us. I don’t remember anyone doing that before.”


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Britain’s Prince Charles, right, looks at gifts presented to him with Archbishop Habib of Basra, Iraq, during a visit to meet Iraqi Christians, in London (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)

The Prince of Wales has said that he is concerned the world may be returning to “the dark ages of public executions”.



Speaking at a Catholic church service in west London, Charles said that we have a “duty of care” towards the families of those who are being executed on camera by terrorist groups in the Middle East.


“We hear much at present about the ‘duty of care’,” he said.


“Then, ladies and gentlemen, I am bound to ask whether there is not a duty of care towards the victims of violence and their families who, like you, are daily distraught by the graphic transmission of violent images of their loved ones.”


The church service at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Acton was for Chaldean Christians, a denomination of the Catholic Church that includes many Iraqis and Syrians.


There are approximately 4,000 Iraqi Chaldean Christians in the UK, and numbers have grown since the conflict with Iran in the 1980s.


More recently Christians in Iraq have come under attack from Isis militants who are trying to create a pure Islamic state in the country, and many have been attacked and forced to leave their homes.


Charles met Chaldean Catholics whose families are suffering because of persecution in Iraq.


Maijida Nissan, 64, has a brother and sister who still live in Iraq. She has lived in the UK for 29 years and has worked as a nanny.


Mrs Nissan thanked the prince for his work to draw attention to the plight of persecuted Christians, to which he responded with: “It’s the least I can do.”


She also said she was praying, and he replied: “We all do.”


Afterwards she said: “I am very happy that he came here, and thanks to God that he came here. God brings him here.”



Mrs Nissan’s brother’s house in Baghdad has been bombed twice, and he now lives with his family in a church in Erbil.


She said that his daughter, Meena, 11, had asked her to speak to the Royal family to tell them about her family’s plight.


In his speech to the congregation Charles said he felt strongly about the plight of persecuted Christians.


“I have been deeply distressed by the horrific scenes of violence and persecution coming out of your beloved Iraq.


“I know that many of those who have been killed or forced to flee are members of your own families.


“The pain and grief must be quite unimaginable as you see them persecuted because of their faith.”


He finished his speech by saying: “You can have no idea how much I feel for those who as I speak are suffering for their faith in such terrible circumstances.”


The prince also met Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid To The Church In Need, who support persecuted Christians worldwide, telling him: “You’re doing a fantastic job.”


Last month Charles released a video message to introduce the charity’s report about religious freedom, and in September he made a donation through the charity to support Iraqi Christians.


Archbishop of Basra Habib Jajou had come from Iraq to meet the prince.


He said: “We have to express our thanksgiving to him for the solidarity he has shown for our situation.”


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Iraq: Nineveh and surrounding Christian areas have been ethnically cleansed. Churches have been destroyed and desecrated.

Old Christian religious manuscripts have been burnt. Hundreds of thousands of Christians and others have become emigrants and immigrants.

The sick, elderly, infants, and pregnant women among them are facing human catastrophe and risk of real genocide.

They need basic water, food, shelter, medicine, and others. 

The situation is going from bad to worse. International humanitarian support is lagging behind. Please help us save these innocent people from death.

We hope it is not too late.


-His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon--8/7/2014








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Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians are facing genocide.
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