Speech of His Beatitude Sako
18 January 2019
We are delighted to have you all here today, Ambassadors, Ministers, Religious Leaders, Family members of the 2 newly ordained Bishops, Friends and Faithful. We would like also to express gratitude for our guests who have traveled long distances to be with us in this celebration. Cardinal Barbarin from France, our bishops from Canada and the States, Dr. Escalante from Italy, others from Australia and those who came from the north and south of Iraq.
Thank you everyone we are honored to have you sharing with us the joy of seeing the Chaldean Church “growing” in spite of all the challenges.
I would like to start with a heartfelt CONGRATULATIONS for the “honorees” for being granted this Episcopal Ordination that I put in the hands of our Heavenly Father, in your hands as a “treasure”, and in the hands of the Christian community who is entrusted to both of you.
As you know, episcopal “rank” is a call rather than a privilege and the bishop is nothing but servant of people and the bearer of hope, God’s love and forgiveness. He is there for them, not otherwise. Bishop is the spiritual father for his priests and his community, especially the displaced, in our case, keeping a spiritual fraternal / paternal bond with them.
Therefore, Bishop in Chaldean – Syriac dialect is called “Abun Maalia”, means the “higher” father, or “Hassia”, means the bearer of forgiveness. A father, who treats his children equally with love and tenderness “away from discrimination”, listens to them and deals with their problems seriously and modestly and offers help as much as he can. Subsequently, the episcopal authority is to serve and teach on both spiritual and human basis rather than “domination”. Beware that the priest or bishop becomes a contractor!
Unfortunately, we sometimes hear a priest or bishop repeating “I am the Church”. This is an arrogance and corruption, which conflicts with the action of lying down on the ground to remind himself that he is “dust” and to “dust” he will return. It goes also in contrary with the action of placing the Gospel on his back to let the word of God dwell in him, guide his life in a way that can be delivered to others and never be against it.
Bishop must realize that people are his partners and associates working as one team for the growth and prosperity of the Church (Diocese) that shines with faith, spirit, love and virtue. This requires wisdom, listening, patience and consultation with his assistants. Prayers must be the source of support to gain Lord’s enlightenment in making the right decision. Here, I would like to highlight a related statement from the first letter of St. Paul to Timothy (3: 2-4): “a bishop must be blameless …, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not argumentative, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well…”
Your Excellency Archbishop Michaeel-Najeeb, I am fully aware of the difficulties of the “devastated” Diocese of Mosul. Even though, your mission is to deepen the joy of liberation and establish the hope of returning, by working closely with two other archbishops, Youhanna Petrus Moshi for Syrian catholic and Dawood Sharaf of Syrian orthodox as well as those of good will, in building trust between diverse components of Mosul society, for promoting coexistence and dismantling the “residues” left by ISIS, such as ideology, customs and traditions. This is the greatest challenge that requires active participation of the Church and Christians in public life in a city of “almost fully destroyed” ancient Churches. A city in which Christians, in particular, contributed nationally, culturally and professionally, along the history. We pray that you will be the new Jonah for Nineveh.
Your Excellency Bishop Robert, I know that you were a successful priest in your parish, living almost “independently”. Today, you are an Auxiliary Bishop and I hope that you will adapt to the new “communal” life and be a member of the “Patriarchal Team” working with eagerness, understanding, love and humility.
The Chaldean Synod Fathers and I will keep you both in our prayers and be there for you in this new mission.
In Conclusion, I have the following 3 recommendations:
- To remember that you inherited the faith of St. Thomas, the Eastern Church Apostle, who knelt down saying “My Lord and My God”. So, you are called to love God and Jesus Christ with all your heart and a “complete submission” to His will, I mean to be full of God not of yourself, money or the world related issues, so that you can lead your people to Him as the star led magi to where Jesus was born.
- To love the Chaldean Church by strengthening its’ unity through your relationship and teamwork with the Patriarchate, the “mother Church”, and the Catholic Church. This way, you reflect the light of God on everything, especially in these circumstances.
- To love Iraq “our homeland” as it is our identity, and work hard for its’ unity and stability, so that the country will achieve peace and move towards progress and prosperity.
Finally, I call upon the community is to support both of you with love, respect, and prayers. As the strength and happiness of the leader comes from having his people around him.