Cardinal Sako praises Pope Francis’ 2019 Human Fraternity document 

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During a visit to the UK this week, Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, praised the interreligious efforts of Pope Francis, saying he has brought about massive positive changes in the Middle East.  

Speaking at a press conference in central London, also attended by Bishop Basilio Yaldo, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad, Cardinal Sako, head of the Chaldean Church and Patriarch of Baghdad, explained how the Pope’s work had led to a decline in religious extremism.  

He said: “Because of the Human Fraternity document, the Pope’s visit to Iraq, and other interreligious work, there is no more provocations in some mosques. Before that, there was so much – Christians are infidels, and stuff like that.  

“The Pope found the language to speak to Islam: friendship. Friendship, nothing too theological.” 

The Human Fraternity document was signed in 2019 by Pope Francis and  Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi.  

Cardinal Sako explained that such extremist language was rare, until the change of regime following the Iraq War in 2003.  

He said: “Iraqis are by nature moderate. But the Americans opened the borders and fundamentalists from Yemen, Syria, and other places entered.” 

He added: “Since the collapse of the old regime the extremism entered. No-one used to ask, ‘Are you Christian? Are you Shia? Are you Sunni?’” 

The cardinal also gave some pointers on how Western Christians could help Christians in Iraq.  

He said: “Come to visit Iraq, encourage people to stay. Go and speak to the Iraqi government. We are proud, it’s about more than just asking for money.” 

The press conference was organized by Catholic charity Fellowship and Aid to the Christians in the East (FACE), during a visit of Cardinal Sako to the UK from 16-26 June. 


More photos of the visit can be found here: