Baghdad – “Mary has a unique position: she brings Christians and Muslims together”. This was reiterated by Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, in a speech addressed to an audience of Christian and Muslim scholars and listeners, centered on the figure of the Virgin Mary.
The Chaldean Patriarch spoke at an event of the Islamic- Christian dialogue. A group of Shia clerics from Najaf and members of Baghdad’s Sunni Judicial Council also attended the meeting on “The Virgin Mary Unites Us,” held on February 24 at Baghdad’s Latin Cathedral. During the evening, when excerpts from the Gospel and the Koran were read, various speeches were made on the status of women.
In his speech, Patriarch Sako emphasized that the doctrinal differences between Christianity and Islam regarding the figure of Mary can be “objectively assessed and understood” in the context of sincere relationships.
“In the Christian experience,” said the Patriarch, “the person of Mary is united to the mystery of Christ”. Her role and greatness are recognized and celebrated “through her relationship with her son and never apart from him,” according to the cardinal, and Mary’s faith and hope “are based on her absolute trust in God and her total devotion to him.” Referring to “Islamic Mariology”, the Iraqi cardinal recalled that the Koran speaks of Mary several times and devotes an entire Sura to her. The Holy Book of Islam recognizes the virginity of the Mother of Christ and her immaculate purity. All stages of Mary’s life are mentioned in the Koran: the Annunciation, her pregnancy, the birth of Jesus, the Presentation in the Temple and the Dormition. In addition, the Primate of the Chaldean Church noted that “Mary occupies a special place in Islamic popular devotion as Muslim women enjoy visiting Marian shrines”.
At the end of his speech, Patriarch Sako emphasized that “Christianity regards man and woman as created in the image and likeness of God”, who are therefore endowed with equal dignity and equal rights. “Christianity,” the cardinal added, “rejects polygamy because it contradicts God’s plan expressed in creation.” “God,” said Patriarch Sako, among other things, “could have given Adam several wives as companions, but instead he gave only one, Eve.” Christianity respects God’s willed order of creation and “regards polygamy as a contradiction to human nature and Will of God” and recognize that “only marriage between a man and a woman is a source of stability and harmony”.