Iraqi Catholic patriarch elevated to cardinal by Pope Francis

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By Rudaw
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon in Iraq. Photo: Khalid Mohammed / AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Pope Francis announced in his weekly address that Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon in Iraq, was
among 14 new churchmen to be elevated to cardinal status, a group which will one day name his successor.

The announcement, which included churchmen from 11 countries across five continents, raised the number of elector cardinals from 120 to 125, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Sako, born on July 4, 1948 in Zakho, has held the position as Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon as well as Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq since 2013.

In a ceremony known as a consistory on June 29, Sako, along with the other 13 elector cardinals, will be given his traditional red hat.

In the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, cardinals fall directly beneath the Pope and hold the responsibility of counseling the pontiff as well as electing a new pope if the serving head of the church dies or renounces his papacy.

Pope Francis chose the new cardinals from regions where Catholics are a small minority, with the lowest Catholic populations living in Japan, Pakistan and Iraq.

In recent years, especially with the rise of ISIS in 2014, Christians in Iraq have faced persecution. Many have been forced to leave their homeland to live abroad.