Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean (Catholic) Patriarchate, at the initiative of the Primate Mar Raphael Louis Sako, has launched a formal proposal to Iraq’s Christian Churches to set up an ‘Iraq Council of Churches’.
The proposal was made public today in an official statement released on the Patriarchate’s website and sent to AsiaNews.
“The Council,” the statement says, “is a religious body including Church families of Catholics, Assyrians, Orthodox and Evangelicals in Iraq,” to be headquartered in Baghdad.
The Iraq Council of Churches would “promote the spirit of unity among the different Churches in Iraq, to coordinate the educational and social activities”.
The press release goes on to say that the Council would also “organize prayers meetings, unify the position and its discourse toward national issues, such as social justice, equality and the rights of Christians”.
It would also “activate the dialogue with the Muslim and other religions in order to promote a culture of peace and coexistence.
The Council itself would include two bodies.
The first body would be an Executive Council that included the Chaldean patriarch, the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, and the bishop at the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church. It would also include the bishops of the Syriac Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Latin, and Evangelical Churches, as well as representatives from the Coptic, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches.
The second body would be a General Council, composed of all the heads of Churches and all the bishops of the various Christian Churches.
The statement by Chaldean Patriarchate notes that the “Executive Council meets every three months and the General council meets once a year.” Decisions would be reached on the basis of half+one votes.
Official letters by the Iraq Council of Churches would be signed by the Council president, or, in his absence, by his deputy.
The patriarch of the Chaldean Church would head the council. The patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, or one of the Churches with the greatest membership would serve as deputy. (This would be discussed in the meeting of the General Council.)
With the Council’s structure so outlined, the leaders of Chaldean Patriarchate are waiting for answers from the leaders of the country’s other Christian denominations.
When all of the Churches give their greenlight, a formal ratification would take place.
At that point, the Council and its status would be submitted for full approval to the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as the international Churches and fora.