Message to Chaldeans
on the Feast of Saint Thomas, the Apostle
3/ July /2022
Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako
Patriarch of the Chaldean Church
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The 3rd of July is the feast of our Patron, Apostle Thomas. It gives me a great pleasure to send you on such an important ecclesiastical occasion heartfelt congratulations, encouraging you to be truthful in adhering to St. Thomas’ faith: “my Lord and my God” (John 20/ 28).
Iraqis have been through painful crises for the past 19 years, without finding “solutions” to their problems. Yet, there is still a hope for “change”, since injustice is “temporary” and does not last. In the meantime, Iraqi Chaldeans need to be patient while keeping in mind Jesus’ words: Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid (Matthew 14/ 27); and we all have to work diligently on spiritual renewal, fraternal solidarity, and national commitment to heal our wounds.
No matter how bitter the “suffering” is, be inspired by the love, faith and hope of your ancestors believing that the Lord will never abandon you. It is enough to know that you share with them the authenticity of faith; Gospel message; and the “splendor” of saints and martyrs of the Chaldean Church in the past and present. However, the way leads to a bright future is long and hard, but many countries have experienced conflicts and wars, are enjoying today peace and prosperity.
On the other hand, the world today is moving rapidly from classical traditions and practices to modernity. However, the precious Chaldean heritage can be reflected with vitality wherever Chaldeans are, and mutually accept with the same energy good things of the society that embraces you. This is what we have done in the Church during the past nine years, by renewing: liturgy, approaches of catechism and pastoral work. Overall, Chaldeans are descendants of an ancient civilization and are children of one of the oldest Churches in the world. So, it is not appropriate for them to be helpless, pessimistic and frustrated, or be drawn into the “thought” of hatred.
I will grab this opportunity to call upon Christians to stop selling their homes and properties in order to prevent demographic change in Nineveh Plain, following the example of Alqoosh town that has been protected by its people.
Therefore, I encourage you to collaborate with your citizens in building a modern state, in which the law “rules”, securing equal rights for every citizen, regardless of religious, social or political affiliation. While, you work to establish peace, stability and achieve justice, you contribute to promote dignity and freedom for all.
A reminder to be grateful for your mother Church, for its’ achievement during and after ISIS crisis. The Chaldean Church was, and still is your voice at home and abroad (international and ecclesiastical forums). Also, don’t forget to thank God for Pope Francis’ historic visit to Iraq, for his prayers and continuous support.
Whoever chose to keep criticizing the Church and been addicted to this act, excludes himself from its community, by not seeing the truth and being devoid of loyalty and gratitude, unlike the one who chose objective / constructive criticism. Saint John Chrysostom said “Do not be separated from the Church in which your salvation is”.
I would like also to shed the light on the importance of opening up to other Churches, institutions and activities of Christian “component”, especially those with “open-minded” leaders, because “closing doors” means a slow death. In fact, our unity makes us stronger, since our common ground is faith, land and future. Additionally, we need to understand that the only way to overcome “the shock of splitting and divisions” should be love, courageous and honest dialogue, in order to fulfill the desire of Christ and Christians: “May they all be one… so that the world may believe it was you who sent me”. (John 17/ 21). Therefore, past failures should not turn into disappointments, but rather into lessons to learn.
Chaldeans are called now more than ever, to think seriously about supporting the “Chaldean League” by all means, away from sensitivities and “random” criticisms that do not help. This association has been established to serve Chaldeans around the world rather than for the sake of serving the Patriarch or Clergy. Hence, the lack of majority cooperation, means no progress.
Every Chaldean around the globe is able to pay “annually” one dollar ($1 a year), as a contribution, which will be sent to fellow Chaldeans in Iraq to implement educational, economic, social…etc… projects). In this regard, Synod 2021, proposed the “Chaldean Fund” project, but no “outcome” yet, unfortunately.
Please discuss these issues in a friendly, responsible, and trustworthy environment, so you can deal with these matters in a civilized way rather than being emotional. I would appreciate also your effort in the following:
Establishing Chaldean Youth Union
Establishing Chaldean Women’s Union
Establishing Chaldean Family Association
Protecting heritage and traditions and paying attention to studying and publishing them using a scientific methodology
Preserving your language, especially in villages and rural areas
May the Almighty Lord bless you with the prayer of our Patron, Apostle Thomas