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Archbishop Louis Sako was elected the new Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon yesterday (1 February 2013).
He will replace Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly who resigned last December at age of 85, and Pope Benedict XVI has already granted the new patriarch-elect the ecclesiastica communio.
Archbishop Sako is meeting with the other Chaldean bishops in Rome today. In my view this is good news for a battered and challenged church in Iraq; more so since the Archbishop is viewed as a man of dialogue who is accepted by Arabs and Kurds in Iraq and has been a steadying force in Kirkuk.
A renowned polyglot and relatively young at 65, he might help strengthen the ties between the Chaldean community within Iraq and the larger Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and those in the West -- some of whom were trying to transfer the Patriarchal See from its traditional location in Baghdad to the USA.
It is worth noting that ever since the ill-advised 2003 invasion of Iraq, the figures of Chaldeans have pretty much been reversed, in the sense that there are now some 150,000 within Iraq and over half a million outside.
© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris. He is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly an Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches, he is now an international fellow, Sorbonne III University, Paris, consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), Ecumenical consultant to the Primate of Armenian Church in UK & Ireland, and author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net Follow him on Twitter here: @harryhagopianTweet