The Holy Synod of
the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
St. Ignatius The Illuminator
Ma’arrat Saidnaya, September 15 – 17, 2010
His Holiness, Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka
1, Iwas called upon their Eminences, members of the Holy Synod, to attend
its sessions at St. Ignatius the Illuminator center – Ma’arrat
Saidnaya from Wednesday September 15 2010 to Friday 17th. Members of the
Holy Synod responded to His Holiness’s call and all attended.
His Eminence Mor Malatios Malki Malki,
Patriarchal Vicar of Australia and New Zealand apologized for health
reasons. The Holy Synod sent him the following message:
“It pained us to learn of your inability to attend the Holy Synod
regular session for health reasons. His Holiness our esteemed Patriarch
had mentioned you and asked that we all pray for your well being and your
good shepherding for you beloved Archdiocese. In the name of His Holiness
and the Holy Synod we pray for your continued healthiness.”
His Holiness opened the Holy Synod session
with a prayer after welcoming their Eminences. The Secretary of the Holy
Synod presented the prepared agenda which was approved by all members
after adding few subjects to be discussed during session.
Here are some points of discussion during
the session in brief:
Matters of the Syriac Archdioceses:
First: The Archdiocese of Germany –
His Holiness and their Eminences discussed the situation of the
Archdiocese of Germany. Attendees discussed details of His Holiness’s
decision issued on August 08, 2010 that included views evaluation of the
parishioners of said Archdiocese, clergy, laity, and boards of trustees to
organize the Archdiocese for its spiritual, administrative, social …etc
benefits. Said decision included the following:
1 – Dividing the Archdiocese of Germany geographically into two:
A – The Archdiocese of Northern Germany:
starts from Westfarlen – Niedersachen to Berlin – Hamburg till the far
North. It includes all cities and villages and areas included in this
division. His Holiness appointed His Eminence Mor Julius Hanna Aydin
patriarchal Vicar for this Archdiocese. His Eminence will meet with clergy
and boards of trustees in this Archdiocese to find a residence that will
become the Archdiocese’s headquarters.
B – The Archdiocese of Southern Germany:
It starts from Rheimnlandfarlz – Hessen – Bayern – Wuttemberg to the
far South. His Holiness appointed Reverend Father Rabban George Gharzani
Patriarchal Vicar for the Southern Archdiocese. His Holiness will delegate
authority to him according to regulations and his Archdiocese will arrange
a residence to manage said Archdiocese.
2 – As for St Jacob of Serouj Monastery in Warburg:
His Holiness appointed Rev. Fr. Rabban Georges Kourieh to become the head
of said monastery. The two Archdioceses have to cooperate in supporting
the monastery in every aspect by a committee from both Archdioceses and
whoever being seen fit by His Holiness. His Eminence Mor Julius Hanna
Aydin will leave the monastery as soon as his residence is secured.
After a long discussion regarding this beloved Archdiocese, all members of
the Holy Synod supported and agreed to His Holiness decision.
Second – The Archdiocese of Belgium, France, and Luxemburg –
Fathers of Holy Synod moved on to discuss matters of the Archdiocese of
Belgium, France, and Luxemburg – Patriarchal Vicariate which suffers
many problems and internal tensions. They listened to suggestions and read
reports of the Episcopal Committee that was appointed by the Holy Synod.
Many suggestions were offered to solve this
difficult crisis. Members listened to the views of his Eminence Mor
Severius Hazail Soumi, the patriarchal Vicar of this Archdiocese. The
attendees went very deep in their discussions and suggestions. They came
back and restudied the problems and decided to ask their Eminences Mor
Eustatheos Matthew Roham and Mor Dionysius Isa Gurbuz, being members of
the Episcopal Committee for Belgium situation, to submit their report.
Mor Severius Hazail Soumi insisted that all churches and Archdiocese’s
endowments to be registered in the name of the patriarchate according to
the Holy Synod’s decision held from 01 to 03 of December 2009 specially
the letter sent to the clergy and boards of trustees who didn’t submit
the required documents. The representatives view was for His Holiness to
appoint a patriarchal visitor who will take care of their spiritual needs.
The Fathers of the Holy Synod asked His Holiness the patriarch to write to
the clergy and parishioners of the Archdiocese to comply with the
decisions of the Holy Synod held in 2009 as a first step solution for
these conflicts and call specially upon the clergy to obey his Eminence
and all to cooperate for peace and Archdioceses benefit, and that His
Holiness give a appropriate period in order to register endowments,
according to the previous decision, in the name of the Patriarchate with
assurances that his Eminence’s name be mentioned as he is still the
legitimate bishop and patriarchal vicar until all come back to their
senses as a last chance to issue a decision regarding this Archdiocese.
Clergy and boards of trustees are not allowed to bring new priests to
serve the Archdiocese or churches except by His Holiness approval
according to the church constitution.
Third – The Archdiocese of Argentine – Patriarchal Vicariate:
Fathers read the Episcopalian Committee report written by their Eminence
Mor Severius Malki Mourad and Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh who visited
Argentine. They presented their report about the situation and problems
with his Eminence Mor Nicholas Matthew Abdulahad, the patriarchal vicar.
It became clear that tensions have somewhat subsided specially after His
Holiness ordered his Eminence Mor Nicholas Matthew Abdulahad to move the
Archdiocese headquarters from La Plata to Buenos Aires. His Eminence
announced that he purchased a place near Buenos Aires and started
administering from there. According to him, his opponents are now fewer
and that he with other parishioners are working to soften relations with
them. His Eminence requested for two monks to be appointed to serve in
Argentine and financial support in order to facilitate his work.
Fourth – Iraq:
Fathers of the Holy Synod discussed the church situation in Iraq and the
difficult circumstances for the Iraqis in general and the Christians in
particular and specially our Syriac Orthodox people.
His Eminence Mor Gregorios Saliba Shamoun, Archbishop of Mosul and
Environs stated that the lack of security and economic hardships are what
the Christians are suffering from. Mor Timotheos Moussa Shamani reported
that security at St. Matthew’s monastery is better and acceptable in
comparison with other regions, but that people are very cautious.
His Eminence Mor Severius Hawa, bishop of Baghdad and Basra presented a
detailed report in which he fully explained situation of renovated
churches, some endowments, schools, and parishioners’ attendance of
services and prayers. He also detailed the immigration problems and
economic situation that face them specially the religious educational, and
youth organizations whose attendance has severely dropped.
His Eminence talked about projects he is involving with in his Archdiocese
specially helping the poor and needy and securing some tranquility for
them as much as possible assuring that most of the income is from the
Archdiocese parishioners. He insisted that our family abroad must support
the church and its institutions in Iraq.
The Ecumenical Movement:
According to agenda, his Eminence Mor Theophilos George Saliba, Secretary
of the Holy Synod, presented the following:
A – Meeting between heads of the Oriental Orthodox churches with
the permanent committee: He stated that such meeting has been frozen for
over a year because His Holiness Pope Shenouda 03rd, and His Holiness
Catholicos Aram 01st are not on good terms for reasons given by the
Secretary to the Holy Synod.
B – Council of Middle Eastern Churches: Which the Coptic Orthodox
church withdrew from, for conflict with the Greek Orthodox church in
Jerusalem for the position of its patriarch Theophilos 03rd towards the
Coptic Orthodox church and His Holiness Pope Shenouda 03rd. This subject
was fully explained by the Secretary of the Holy Synod.
Most member churches in this Council spared no efforts trying to convince
His Holiness Pope Shenouda 03rd to rescind his decision but to no avail.
For the sake of peace and in stressing on the historic brotherly and
strong relations between our Syriac Orthodox church and our sister church,
the Coptic Orthodox church, His Holiness our patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka
1st Iwas, travelled to Egypt and met twice with His Holiness Pope Shenouda
03rd in the presence of bishops from both churches. His Holiness Pope
Shenouda 03rd did not change his position while His Holiness patriarch Mor
Ignatius Zakka 1st Iwas continued his efforts to bring back harmony and
understanding among our Oriental Orthodox family, knowing that the Council
is in deep financial crisis that threatens its future.
C – Universal Council of Churches: Our church is represented by
his Eminence Mor Eustatheos Matthew Roham who is successfully fulfilling
D – Roman Catholic & Oriental Orthodox Dialogue: Which is the
official theological dialogue between our Oriental Orthodox family and the
Roman Catholic family. His Eminence Mor Theophilos George Saliba and Mor
Theophilos Kyriakos from our church in India, represent our church.
The Affaires of our Syriac church in India:
His Holiness our patriarch detailed the history of our Syriac Orthodox
Church in India and the problems it faced since 1908 till the election and
ordination of Mapheryono (Catholicose) Eugene 01st in 1964 and the
discords between Antioch and Malankara. In 1975 the Holy Synod
excommunicated Mapheryonno Eugene and his followers and Mor Basilios Paul
2nd was elected the new Mapheryono. In 2002 Mor Baselios Thomas 1st was
elected and ordained by His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka 1st Iwas as the
Mapheryono of India with jurisdiction over India only, while Syriac
Indians living abroad in the Gulf or Europe or America report to His
Holiness the patriarch.
His Holiness mentioned items to be added to the church constitution by
identifying the names of those eligible to elect the patriarch from His
Beatitude the Mapheryono and the Holy See churches in India (Simhasana
Churches), and the Canaanite Archdiocese and Syriac Orthodox organizations
and the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese in North America.
A suggestion was made to form a shared committee from the Holy Synod of
Antioch and the local Malankara Holy Synod in India, to schedule a
Universal Synod of the Holy Synod of Antioch and Malankara in 2011,
according to what His Holiness and the committee will agree upon.
According to our church constitution and upon request of members of the
Holy Synod to discuss the situation of the retired bishops who do not
attend the Holy Synod’s meetings and are not eligible to vote or to be
nominated. Their relationship would be with His Holiness outside the
meeting if he deems necessary to consult them and ask for their expertise.
His Holiness stated: “We decided at our last Holy Synod’s session to
call for a monk’s general meeting (convention). The Secretary General
and the preparatory committee sent questions and invitations to the monks
to attend this convention supposed to be held last July”. According to
answers received by the patriarchate, His Holiness said: “We think it is
better to postpone this convention for another time.” His Holiness spoke
today about the importance of this convention and that it should be very
well prepared for in order to be more effective.
Other subjects also were discussed.
The Holy Synod discussed many other subjects and was suggested that future
items should be reported to the Holy Synod secretary’s office before
holding the next Holy Synod. These items will be on the next agenda. They
will be discussed and decisions will be taken according to the rules.
Being the Dean of bishops, members of the Holy Synod, his Eminence Mor
Gregorios Saliba Shamoun thanked His Holiness in person for his presence
and presiding over the Holy Synod’s meeting, who by the grace of God and
the blessings of His Holiness came out with suggestions and decisions for
the benefit of the holy church. He asked, in the name of all bishops, for
his Holiness’s health and prolonged life to shepherd the church and lead
it to progress and prosperity.
He also thanked bishops in charge of serving the holy center of St.
Ignatius the Illuminator and St. Ephrem the Syriac monastery, specially
his Eminence Mor Philoxenos Mattias Naish, the monks and nuns for their
His Holiness the patriarch said: “Thank you, Dean of bishops, and thanks
to the Holy Synod members for your presence at these important meetings in
which we conferred about church matters in all our Archdioceses. We
recognize the hardships faced by our people due to immigration. Wherever
we go we are accompanied by these problems. We arrange for our people all
kinds of spiritual, administrative, and social services. I pray that
harmony and optimism prevail between the bishops as every one of them is
responsible in front of God and his conscience for the benefit of the holy
church. I pray that God bless our clergy and laity and protect our holy
church that He may make peace reign all over the world preventing wars and
confusions specially in our beloved Middle East where some regions are
suffering from destitutions and dark days.”
His Holiness asked for good health and happiness for all, bestowing his
apostolic blessings with his well known fatherly love. The Holy Synod was
concluded by a prayer.