Bishop Sako to (ADO-World): Our presence is in danger, our existence is threatened, and our home is ruined, so why are we fighting over the name issue?

ado_sako_20101005_011.jpgSanta MIKAIL – Brussels

On Thursday, October 5, 2010, a delegation of the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO – Mtakasta Europe), which included Mr. Ablahad Astepho (Director of ADO Europe) and Mr. Georges Chachan (Head of ADO Belgium), met with His Grace Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk. The meeting took place in Brussels during Archbishop Sako’s participation in the European Parliament’s session on “Persecution Against Christians.” 

The two sides discussed our people’s situation in the homeland and the problems facing them and threatening their existence in our ancestral homeland, as well as the rise of Islamic extremism.They also discussed the work that needs to be done to support and strengthen the Christian existence in Iraq, and prevent the extinction of Christianity in the Middle East. 

They also talked about the Holy Synod of the Roman Catholic Church to be held in the Vatican on from October 10 to 24, 2010, to discuss the situation of Middle East Christians. 

Following the meeting, the ADO’s website ( interviewed His Grace Archbishop Louis Sako. The following is the transcript of the interview:

Q: How do you see the situation of our people in Iraq and their future?

Sako: If radicalism continues, then we are facing extinction. Our Christian presence is weak, our existence is threatened, and we are fighting over the name Chaldean or Syriac or Assyrian. This is not fruitful and it resembles the Byzantines’ arguments when the city was under siege and they were busy discussing the sex of the angels. 

We must not get caught up in issues such as who is the origin or the oldest, and now, we must focus on working to preserve the lives of our people before arguing about who is a Chaldean or Syriac or Assyrian.

The Christians are weak and these arguments weaken the existence and presence of Christians. 

The Christian Political Parties are being run under the agenda of other political parties. The Churches are not unified in action or in speech, and are not planning well to address the current situation of our people. There are only scattered individual efforts here and there. As Christians, we can have a strong role in opening the dialogue among Iraqis, and to pursue a peaceful coexistence.

Q: What about the efforts to bring the Churches and Political Parties closer to each other?

A: The political parties are not in agreement with each other. There are 8 or 9 parties and each one is working alone. The Church should not interfere in the work of the political parties. The Church should not be bound to ethnicities or nationalities; they must always remain open for everyone. But the Church can play a role in supporting unity.

The politicians must also put their differences aside and work together for an issue that is much more important than them, which is “Our Christian Existence.” Whether it’s Assyrian or Chaldean political parties, they must not fight and rather unite to tackle the current and upcoming dangers.

Our internal home is ruined, so why are we fighting over the name issue?

Q: What is the Solution then?

A: There are calls for holding conferences for all of our Christian people, and we must study the situation and evaluate future solutions, and there must be a specialized and qualified team that would analyze the situation. 

The political parties must prepare for the conference with support from the Church. Several proposals have been put forward more than once. However, we have received no response from the political parties. We believe there may be outside forces that do not want the Christians to unite.

Consequently, we need to hold a conference where the matter is carefully addressed and create a comprehensive study to understand the nature of the risks. Ultimately, we hope a solution will be offered. 

Currently in Iraq, there is unity among Shiites as well as unity among Sunnis, and the Kurds are also united. It’s only the Christians that are scattered religiously and politically. We do not possess a strong political or religious leadership. The political and religious differences must not become an obstacle.

There is a danger that is awaiting us and we must unite to strengthen our Christian presence. Concessions must be made by everyone to serve our cause.

Q: In your opinion what is the role that could be played by our people’s organizations in Diaspora?

A: Our organizations in Diaspora can support us financially and morally, and also through their visions, which should be realistic and take into account the realities on the ground. Their speech should not be fiery and their demands must be practical. I hope that they are all seeking to preserve our historical Christian presence.

Q: There is a census that is being prepared for in Iraq, and there are attempts to place our people under one name (Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians), what is your opinion on this matter?

A: I hope that an agreement is reached over a unified name that would satisfy all sides. Everyone should make concessions for a more important issue and that is the “The Existence and Survival of Christians.” 

There is no unity or agreement among us. Sectarian interests are currently much stronger in all of Iraq and it is a major problem.

The ChaldoAssyrian name that was proposed and accepted in the Baghdad Conference in 2003 was closer to unification and it was used officially in state institutions, but then the three name solution was introduced which complicated matters, and then a four name solution and this weakens us. 

If a particular side adopts one of the names under pressure, it is realistic to expect the other side to oppose it. We must agree on a name that would be acceptable by the majority at least or even by just the politicians.

Even our own representatives in the Iraqi Parliament are not united and there is no agreement among them.

Your Grace, thank you