Already from 2003 on as archbishop of Kirkuk Mons Sako had opposed the tendency to ‘ethnicize’ the Eastern churches, evoking the paradigm of the first Abbasid period in which the Iraqi Christians had opened to the reality of the Arab conquerors. Although remaining firm in the profession of their faith, and even composing important apologetic works addressed to Muslim, these Christians had given a fundamental contribution to the construction of a super-confessional Humanism first of all in the field of translations of philosophy and sciences from Greek. Following this model Mons. Sako has for years been involved in an Islam Christian dialogue which highlights points in common and shared fields of work without avoiding dogmatic differences.
This is the background to the letter. The text does not take refuge in invoking the glorious past of the Chaldean Church but it starts with a clear explanation of the serious crisis it is in. A crisis, however, that as soon as was recognized a possible renewal started based on the Vatican Council II and refusing exclusive nationalism. ‘The Chaldean Catholic Church has been and will continue to be open to all nations and languages […]. Today in it there are Syrians, Arabs and Curds: should we “Chaldeanize” them? And what can be said of the Chaldean Muslims?’, Patriarch Sako asks. Animated by an ecumenical passion, first of all where the Syrian oriental church is concerned (Chaldean but not united to Rome), he does not fear to denounce what lacks and he does not give in to the blackmail of ringing the bells every minute to prove that they are ‘Chaldean’. And thus Eastern Christianity takes on a new air showing that fidelity to one’s own tradition and universal tension, continuity with one’s history and openness to the present, can live together in a Catholic dimension which can be reinforced every day.
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