The Chaldean patriarch arrived in Lebanon for a rare visit Thursday and urged Christians to not leave their homeland.
Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Babylon, made
the comments at Rafik Hariri International Airport, before heading to
the Beirut suburb of Hazmieh for the holding of religious services.
“Christians, wherever they are, should not emigrate, because this is
considered a withdrawal from the scene and a loss of identity,” he said.
“In countries of emigration, they are refugees and emigres, but here, they have an identity, a role and a history.”
Sako complained about certain countries offering visas as an
“inducement” for Christians to emigrate.Sako also spoke against what he
termed a “plan for a ‘new Middle East,’ which might see this East
divided into religions and ethnic and sectarian cantons,” and lamented
civil strife in Arab countries, and particularly the specter of fighting
between Sunnis and Shiites.
“I understand a war in defense of the country, or to preserve it, but
it is incomprehensible for fighting to take place between people from
the same country,” he said.
Sako was elected patriarch in February.
During his visit to Lebanon, the patriarch is scheduled to take part
in a religious summit at Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite patriarch, and
will pay a visit to the Assyrian Diocese in Sadd al-Boushrieh and meet
with the Armenian patriarch.
Sako will also visit Baadba Palace for a meeting with President Michel Sleiman.