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Iraq's Chaldeans Get New Patriarch

Bishops from the Iraq-based Chaldean Catholic Church have chosen the archbishop of Kirkuk as their new patriarch.

Louis Sako was elected Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans at a synod held in Rome.

Under the name of Louis Raphael Sako I, he succeeds Emmanuel III Delly, who retired in December after reaching the age of 85.

After his election, the patriarch told the French AFP news agency: "I will do my best to stop the emigration of Christians from Iraq."

The Chaldean Church has 700,000 followers and uses the ancient Aramaic language.

Before the 2003 ethnic strife in Iraq, there were more than 1 million Christians living in Iraq.

Now, they number some 450,000.

Patriarch Sako was elected archbishop of Kirkuk in 2003.

Based on reporting by AFP and Vatican Radio