In meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako raises concerns over coexistence in Iraq amidst corruption and armed militias

ERBIL, Iraq — During a meeting with Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Schallenberg in Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael Sako shed light on the precarious situation of Christians in Iraq.

During their meeting, Minister Schallenberg and Patriarch Sako candidly discussed the challenges facing Christians in the country, highlighting the troubling factors that erode coexistence.

The meeting comes in the aftermath of recent controversies surrounding the ownership of Chaldean Church properties in Iraq. In July, President of Iraq Abdul Latif Rashid issued a decision to withdraw the presidential decree recognizing Patriarch Sako as head of Church endowments.

Patriarch Sako emphasized that coexistence in Iraq has been significantly weakened by pervasive corruption, the presence of militias, the widespread proliferation of weapons, and a concerning lack of respect for human dignity and fundamental rights. These issues collectively contribute to a challenging environment for the Christian community and other minority groups in Iraq.

During a recent visit to the headquarters of the District Commissioner of Ankawa, employees told him that for three months they had not received their salaries. Officials do not consider how these citizens live, he said, especially those who have a rented house, students, etc. If there are some problems between politicians, it is not permissible for the average person to be held accountable, he added.

“A political official is known for his actions, not his speeches,” said the Patriarch. “When I visit them, they give me nice words, but they are not followed by action.”