WASHINGTON, D.C. / BAGHDAD — Amidst growing concerns over the handling of Roman Catholic Cardinal and Chaldean Patriarch Mor Louis Raphael Sako’s role as guardian of Church property in Iraq, support has poured in from various religious and political entities worldwide.
Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the US State Department, voiced Washington’s unease regarding the issue and condemned the Iraqi presidential decision, considering it a blow to religious freedom. The US is “disturbed by the harassment of Cardinal Sako … and troubled by the news that he has left Baghdad,” said Miller, urging the Iraqi government to address the fears directly and looks forward to the return of the patriarch to Baghdad.
Baghdad summoned the US Ambassador in response to Miller’s comments.
The Vatican Embassy in Baghdad expressed its disapproval of the decision, deeming it inappropriate in relation to the Patriarch’s role as the guardian of the Chaldean Church’s property. The Vatican maintains that Church property should continue to be administered by the heads of Churches and remain subject to Iraqi courts and government offices.
The website of the Chaldean Patriarchate sent a powerful message to Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, highlighting the critical situation of Baghdad’s dwindling Christian population, adding that the state’s response should prioritize tranquility, justice, equality, and putting an end to aggression.
Observers view the presidential decree as a concerning interference not just to the Patriarch but to all Eastern Christians, underscoring the gravity of the situation beyond the individual involved.
As the controversy continues, international support for Patriarch Sako has only grown, drawing attention to the importance of safeguarding religious freedom and upholding the sacred role of Church leaders in Iraq and around the world.