The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued the following statement on the election of Archbishop Mar Raphael Louis Sako I as the new Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
“I congratulate Archbishop Sako upon his election as the new Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans. I also wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the members of Canada’s growing Chaldean community on this momentous occasion.
“The new Patriarch-elect was chosen in Rome by a Synod of 15 bishops from Iraq and the Iraqi diaspora, including Canada. The Canadian diocese was established in June 2011 by the Chaldean Patriarchate for members of the community in Canada, and Toronto’s Mar Hanna Zora represented Canadians in the synod.
“Canada is now home to an increasing number of Iraqi refugees who have desired religious freedom. Through the Government of Canada’s refugee resettlement efforts, and in particular through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program, those hopes of over 12,000 Iraqi men, women and children have been fulfilled over the past five years alone. For hundreds of years, Canada has provided religious and political freedom for persecuted people from around the world, including those fleeing anti-religious terrorism in the Middle East today.
“The Holy See’s hosting of and participation in the synod demonstrates Pope Benedict XVI’s support for the Chaldean Church, as well as the importance of the Chaldean community and its ancient tradition.
“With more than four decades in ministry and a remarkable education, Archbishop Sako is well-prepared for his increased responsibilities as a shepherd of the faithful and a voice for peace and religious freedom in what is a difficult time for minorities in the region.
“The Chaldean Canadian community is a beautiful example of diversity in unity, a principle of Canada’s pluralism. As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I extend my best wishes to the Patriarch-elect as he assumes responsibility for the Chaldean community both in Canada and around the world.”