“There is a Christian politician who considers that the ‘Hashd al-Shaabi’ is from God; how can a military faction be from God? This is a defect and distorts Christianity,” Sako told ACI MENA.
Sako also discussed a need to reform the way political seats are allocated and how government jobs are distributed so that Christians are not unfairly treated.
The Iraqi government and parties in power, he added, do not listen to the opinions of the Church regarding problems faced by Christians in Iraq.
The synodal way and renewal
The patriarch spoke about the synodal process taking place within the Chaldean Church and noted that he has already seen a “renewal” in the fields of theology, liturgy, and legal work, describing these changes as necessary to meet the needs of the times.
The Chaldean patriarch also called on Muslim leaders to work on a “synodal way in Islam” to renew Islam and religious discourse just as the Catholic Church has. His hope, he said, is that this renewal on the part of the religions will pave the way to a future where Christians and Muslims in Iraq and countries where Muslims are the majority can coexist.
Role of women and same-sex marriage
Cardinal Sako touched on the ultimate goal of the listening sessions: how to increase the role believers have in the Catholic Church in Iraq.
He referred in particular to the importance of ensuring that women have an active role and presence in the life of the Church.
Sako made clear that renewal does not, however, mean accepting what is contrary to Church teaching, such as same-sex marriage.
“The Church respects the human being, but it does not accept marriage that comes outside the concept of man and woman,” he said.
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Sako explained that the Church plays the role of a mother, embracing all her sons and daughters who are believers and taking care of them. Her role, he observed, is represented in accompanying and helping them to stay within the correct faith, and guiding them, reminding them that God is “mercy and love.”
At the end of the interview, Sako spoke of his desire to unify the position of the Churches of Iraq so that its members can be united in their demands before a state that deals with Christians as though they are second-class citizens. He also called for the establishment of a civil Iraqi state based on the principle of citizenship and not religious affiliation, and the abolition of any reference to religion in the country’s official documents.