Archbishop Sako (Wikipedia)

Archbishop Louis Raphaël I Sako, the head of the Iraq-based Chaldean Church, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, has been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, reports Asia News.

Following his nomination, the archbishop said receiving the prize “would be an important and significant gesture, because it would highlight the sacrifices of an ancient community that chose to remain in its own land despite persecution, the latest being that of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for IS], which forced hundreds of thousands of families to flee, convert or be killed”.

The Catholic association L’Œuvre d’Orient put forward his candidacy in late January, which the Norwegian Nobel Committee accepted. The nomination is backed by a number of people in Iraq and around the world, especially in France where the archbishop has developed strong ties of friendship and collaboration with Catholic and non-Catholic prelates and NGOs, including Christians and Muslims who praise his work in favour of peace and coexistence, said Asia News.

French politician Bernard Cazeau said Sako “embodies” the dialogue between faiths and is “respected” by Muslims, Yazidis, Sabeans, religious believers and atheists, for his “honesty, sincerity, simplicity, and generosity”.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee shortlists candidates in March and announces the Peace Prize winners in October. Details of nominees are usually revealed by the Committee only after 50 years have passed. The Committee has confirmed that 2018’s candidates include 216 individuals and 113 organisations.

Archbishop Sako, 69, became Chaldean patriarch in January 2013. He was born in Zakho, northern Iraq, and was ordained a priest in June 1974.