The news about the conflict in the Syriac Orthodox Church

February 8, 2017
Six Syrian Orthodox Archbishops denounce Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aphrem II Karim’s authority

On February 8, 2017, a group of six Syrian Orthodox Archbishops issued a joint statement where they totally denounce the supremacy and authority of their Patriarch His Holiness Mar Ignatius Aphrem II Karim. They also refuse to accept his decisions retroactively From the day he was concentrated Patriarch. They accuse him of heresy after his statement that Jesus has no grave because he descended to heaven.

Source: ASSYRIA T.V. 

The group of six archbishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch 
(four of whom are members in the Holy Synod and two are not)

His Eminence Mar Eustathius Matta Roham, Metropolitan Archbishop of Jazirah and Euphrates
His Eminence Mar Climis Eugene Kaplan, Metropolitan Archbishop, Patriarchal Vicar of Western USA
His Eminence Mar Severius Malki Murad, Metropolitan Archbishop, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem and Jordan.
His Eminence Mar Malatius Malki Malki, Metropolitan Archbishop, Patriarchal Vicar of Australia and New Zealand
His Eminence Mar Severios Hazail Soumi, Metropolitan Archbishop, Patriarchal Vicar of Belgium and France
His Eminence Mar Bartholomaus Nathanael, Metropolitan Archbishop, Patriarchal Vicar of United Arab Emirates and Arabian Gulf

Statement Issued by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East

Damascus, February 9, 2017--

The so-called Rev. Yuhanon Aydin is not a priest in the Syriac Orthodox Church and his so-called ordination is invalid because it is not done by the proper ecclesiastical authority.

Based on Article 70 a) of the Constitution of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch: “a Metropolitan shall have no right to interfere in an Archdiocese that does not belong to him. Moreover, he is not allowed to perform church services in it unless permitted by the head of that Archdiocese and with his consent. Also, if he performs any ordinations there, they are considered void, and the matter will be referred to H. H. the Patriarch”. Therefore, the ordination that took place in Brussels – Belgium on the evening of Thursday February 9, 2017 of the so-called Rev. Yuhanon Aydin is void because it was not done by the proper episcopal authority, authorized to perform such an ordination, who is exclusively His Eminence Archbishop Mor George Kourieh, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese-Patriarchal Vicariate of Belgium, France and Luxemburg, even though the Patriarchate had warned from the consequences of such an illegal and unconstitutional action a day before it took place.
His Holiness the Patriarch directs the members of the Archdiocese-Patriarchal Vicariate of Belgium, France, and Luxemburg, and the faithful throughout the world not to consider or deal with the so-called Rev. Yuhanon Aydin as a priest for he is forbidden from practicing priesthood.

Source: Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate (facebook)

28 members of the Synod support Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aphrem II Karim of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch

Statement Issued by the Fathers of the Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

February 10, 2017

A statement was issued by six archbishops of our Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (four of whom are members in the Holy Synod and two are not) in which they attacked His Holiness our Patriarch, “the Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the defender of its faith, doctrine, and apostolic traditions, the symbol of its unity, its representative and spokesman everywhere, the general supervisor of all its affairs, and the spiritual father of all Syrian Orthodox people worldwide.” (Article 7 of the Church Constitution) and questioned, in particular, the faith of His Holiness and his adherence to the Orthodox Christian dogma, and permitted themselves to speak on behalf of the Holy Synod declaring their rebellion against Church leadership and Constitution, considering His Holiness an alien to the rank of Patriarch.
We confirm in this statement that carries our names, the following:
1. Our utter condemnation and absolute rejection of everything that appeared in the referenced statement in the form of accusations against our Patriarch, which are hereby declared totally false and hostile positions that incite discord and sow the seeds of division among our people.
2. Our clear declaration that these six archbishops do not, in any way, represent our Holy Synod nor do they speak for any of us.
3. We consider invalid and illegal every and any action that these archbishops conduct in the form of ordinations and any other episcopal services that, contrary to the Constitution of the Church, are carried out without securing the approval of His Holiness the Patriarch (Article 50 – Section H, which states: “All of his [the Metropolitan] activities are subject to the supervision of H.H the Patriarch”, and Article 56, which states: “The Metropolitan will be vigilant in choosing the best priests whom he ordains, according to church rules and traditions after obtaining approval from H.H. the Patriarch”). By their actions, in disobedience of these laws, they are separating themselves from the Church.
4. Our clear call to these six archbishops to follow the path of repentance and for their return from their deviation, subject to the Church canon law in accordance with the Constitution of our Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.

The fathers of the Synod confirm their standing by the side of the lawful successor of St. Peter, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, who was chosen by the Holy Spirit through his election by the Holy Synod in these difficult circumstances that we are currently witnessing. We value his clear fatherly conduct through his constant presence among his people, particularly during at critical times, and we call upon all Church members, clergy and laity, to pray fervently for the sake of the Holy Church and her shepherds and to rally around the their spiritual leadership.

We ask the Lord God to protect His Church from all evil and to bless her people throughout the world; by the prayers of the Virgin St. Mary, St. Peter, the head of the Apostles and all saints and martyrs.

The names of their eminences the metropolitans:
Mor Gregorios Saliba Chamoun, Patriarchal Advisor
Mor Severius Hawa, Metropolitan of Baghdad and Basra
Mor Theophilos George Saliba, Metropolitan of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli
Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas, Metropolitan of Tur Abdin and Abbot of Mor Gabriel Monastery
Mor Philoxenus Yusuf Cetin, Patriarchal Vicar in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir
Mor Julius Abdelahad Shabo, Metropolitan of Sweden and Scandinavia
Mor Dioscorus Benjamin Atas, Patriarchal Vicar in Sweden
Mor Dionysius Issa Gurbuz, Patriarchal Vicar in Switzerland and Austria
Mor Selwanos Petros Al-Nemeh, Metropolitan of Homs and Hama
Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi, Patriarchal Vicar in Canada
Mor Philoxenus Saliba Ozmen, Metropolitan of Mardin and Diyarbakir
Mor Theethose Yeldo, Metropolitan of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America
Mor Nicolaos Matta Abdelahad, Patriarchal Vicar in Spain
Mor Justinos Paulos Safar, Patriarchal Vicar in Zahla and Bekaa
Mor Timotheos Moussa Al-Shamani, Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Mor Mattai Monastery
Mor Athanasius Touma Dakkama, Patriarchal Vicar in the United Kingdom
Mor Gregorius Malke Urek, Patriarchal Vicar in Adiyaman and its Environs
Mor Philoxenus Mattias Nayis, Patriarchal Vicar in Germany
Mor Julius Hanna Aydin, Head of Foreign Relations in Germany
Mor Clemis Daniel Kourieh, Metropolitan of Beirut
Mor Polycarpus Augin Aydin, Patriarchal Vicar in Holland
Mor Chrysostomos Mikhael Chamoun, Patriarchal Vicar and Director of the Patriarchal Benevolent Institutions in Atchaneh
Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of Eastern United States
Mor Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Metropolitan of Mosul, Kurdistan and their Environs
Mor Titus Boulos Touza, Apostolic Nuncio to the Evangelical Churches in Brazil
Mor Timotheos Matta Al-Khouri, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Damascus
Mor Chrysostomos Youhanna Ghassaly, Patriarchal Vicar in Argentina
Mor Yacoub Eduardo Aguirre, Patriarchal Vicar in Central America

Also, in support of this statement:

- His Eminence Mor Georges Kourieh, Patriarchal Vicar of Belgium, France and Luxemburg,
- His Grace Bishop Mor Maurice Amsih, Patriarchal Delegate for the Archdiocese of Jazirah and Euphrates.


Archbishop Hazail Saume: The faith of the Patriarch main reason for our statement

In an exclusive interview with Assyria TV during his visit to Sweden, His Eminence Archbishop Mar Severius Hazail Soumi of Belgium explains the reasons behind his recent statement along with five other bishops where they denounce the supremacy of their patriarch.

Bishop Hazail says Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aphrem II Karim has abused the fundamental pillars of the Christian faith when he kissed the Koran “in the contrary to thousands of faithful whom for centuries had sacrificed their lives refusing to kiss the Koran”, he says. Bishop Hazail insists that Patriarch Karim by doing so has made a big mistake against the Christian faith and therefore should apologize to his people.

As to the letter of bishop Augin Kaplan to his congregation two days after the joint statement, bishop Hazail says it was written by all six bishops together “in order to reach a dialogue with the patriarch and accept a meeting with him in accordance with the wish of the congregations to solve the conflict on neutral soil”.

Finally, we asked; in case no solution will be reached and the six of you will be banished by the patriarch or the Synod, what are you going to do then?

Bishop Hazail says in such a case the person who takes such a decision would be hold responsible for the consequences. “If the majority still will stay with the one who denies the faith, then we have same situation as Jesus and Barabbas”, bishop Hazail adds.

Assyria TV has tried to get a comment from the patriarch or, at least from the bishops in Sweden, but they refused.

Source: ASSYRIA T.V.

Archbishop Abdulahad Gallo Shabo: I have not signed the letter from the synod

Archbishop Abdulahad Gallo Shabo to the Swedish television: ” I say it openly on television. We are all with the Patriarch but we are not With those who lie. It is not okay that they wrote my name there without informing me"

Bishop Abdulahad Gallo Shabo confirmed that he has not signed the letter issued by the Patriarchate.

Tomorrow Swedish television will broadcast a longer interview about this.

Source: ASSYRIA T.V.

Priests’ Sunday – Holy Qurobo

Damascus , February 12, 2017-- His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated the Holy Qurobo on the occasion of Priests’ Sunday at St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral in Bab Touma, Damascus.
He was assisted by His Grace Bishop Mor Maurice Amsih, Patriarchal Delegate for the Archdiocese of Al-Jazeerah and Euphrates.
In his sermon, His Holiness spoke about the sacred role of the priests and prayed for the peace in the Church and her unity.

Homily of His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II

Priests' Sunday – St. Georges Patriarchal Cathedral – Damascus – February 12, 2017
  1, 2, 3

The six rebellious bishops backpedal, ask for forgiveness from patriarch

VIDEO: Assyria Tv 

Why did the bishops backpedal?

Bishop Hazail explains the U-turn and the excuse to the Patriarch
Source: AssyriaT.V. /Videos

”Not enough apology by the bishops”

After the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church Mar Ignatius Afrem II Karim met with 18 bishops in Lebanon on February 16, 2017, the General Secretariat of the Holy Synod issued a statement on February 17 about the apology of the six rebellious bishops to their patriarch. The statement says that the act of the bishops ”does not reflect true repentance nor does it constitute a clear and explicit apology for all the offenses they committed”.

Source: ASSYRIA T.V.

Source: Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church



Report on the Fourteenth meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches

Here is the report issued at the conclusion of the Fourteenth meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The meeting took place January 22 to 27, 2017 in Rome.



Fourteenth Meeting

Rome, January 22-27, 2017

The fourteenth meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches took place in Rome from January 22 to 27, 2017, hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. It was chaired jointly by His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette.

Joining delegates from the Catholic Church were representatives of the following Oriental Orthodox Churches: the Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of All Armenians and Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia), the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. No representative of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church was able to attend.

The two delegations met separately on January 22 and 23. Plenary sessions were held January 22-27, each of which began witha a brief prayer service based on material prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

During the first plenary session, recent developments in the relations between the two communions were discussed. These included: the visit of His Holiness Abune Mathias I to Rome (26-29 February), when he was received by His Holiness Pope Francis; the Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to Armenia (24-26 June); the meeting of the General Assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches in Amman (6-8 September). The members also discussed the present situation of Christians in the Middle East.

Building upon the previous meeting's focus on the sacraments of Christian Initiation, the members turned in this meeting to the Holy Eucharist. Papers were presented by Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette; Rev. Father Columba Stewart, OSB; Metropolitan Youhanon Mar Demetrios; Metropolitan Theophilose Kuriakose; Metropolitan Theophilus George Saliba; Metropolitan Gabriel Mar Gregorios (sharing a paper prepared by Dr. B. Varghese); Bishop Paul Rouhana, OLM; Bishop Magar Ashkarian; Rev. Father Shahe Ananyan; Rev. Father Frans Bouwen, M.Afr.; Rev. Father Shenouda Maher Ishak; Rev. Father Daniel Seifemichael Feleke.

The papers considered the historical, theological, and ecclesiological aspects of the Holy Eucharist as celebrated in the various Churches. The recognition of a common heritage of early Christian liturgical texts that have shaped later theology and practice of the Holy Eucharist was complemented by descriptions of aspects particular to the different Churches. There was also discussion of modern pastoral issues, touching upon communities in diaspora, the challenges of secularism, reaching the younger generation, and the possibility of pastoral adaptation of traditional liturgies. The discussion affirmed a common understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, including agreement that all elements of the anaphora are necessary for eucharistic consecration. The members agreed that differences of practice in celebration of the Holy Eucharist such as the use of various anaphoras, or customary usage of leavened or unleavened bread, are not fundamental disagreements in matters of doctrine.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 24, many members were able to attend Vespers at the Benedectine Collegio di Sant'Anselmo at the kind invitation of the Right Revered Gregory Polan, O.S.B., Abbot Primate of the Benedectine Confederation, and to share supper with the community.

On Wednesday, January 25, the members remembered at their morning prayer the late Archbishop Mesrob Krikorian of Vienna, a founding member of the Joint Commission, and sent a letter of condolence addressed to His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.

On the evening of Wednesday, January 25, the members attended the Vespers Service at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle which was presided over by Pope Francis to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In his homily, in which he extended his best wishes to the dialogue members, Pope Francis asked: "How do we proclaim this Gospel of reconciliation after centuries of division? Paul himself helps us to find the way. He makes clear that reconciliation in Christ requires sacrifice. Jesus gave his life by dying for all. Similarly, ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in his name, to lay down their lives, to live no more for themselves but dor Christ who died and was raised for them (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-15). As Jesus teaches, it is only when we lose our lives dor love of him that we truly save them (cf. Lk 9:24). This was the revolurion wxperienced by Paul, but it is, and always has been, the Christian revolution. We live no longer for ourselves, for our own interests and "image", but in the image of Christ, for him and following him, with his love and in his love". He also observed, "Authentic reconciliation between Christians will only be achieved when we can acknowledge each other's gifts and learn from one another, with humility and docility, without waiting for the others to learn first." At the end of the service the Holy Father paused to greet personally many of the commission members.

On the evening of Thursay January 26, Cardinal Koch kindly hosted a dinner for the members of the Commission at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican gardens.

At noon on Friday January 27, Pope Francis received the dialogue members in private audience. In his greetings to the Pope, Metropolitan Bishoy reported on the work of the Joint Commission, thanked His Holiness for his hospitality, and then noted, "We appreciate Your Holiness's care and efforts to keep and preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East which has been undergoing serious difficulties in this last decade. We are worries about the forced emigration, displacements, kidnapping of both clergy and people, and the killing of groups of Christian people in this historical area for Christianity. We are sure that Your Holiness will continue your care for bringing peace to the Middle East."

In his response, Pope Francis asked the members of the Joint Commission to persevere in their efforts, to "facilitate the path towards that greatly desired day when we will have the grace of celebrating the Lord's Sacrifice at the same altar, as a sign of fully restored ecclesial communion." Noting Metropolitan Bishoy's concern for the Christians of the Middle East, he continued, "Many of you belong to Churches that witness daily the spread of violence ad acts of brutality perpetrated by fundamentalist extremism.... Saint Paul writes: 'If one member suffers, all suffer together' (1 Cor. 12:26). Your sufferings are our sufferings. I join you in praying for an end to the conflict and for God's closeness to those who have endured so much, especially children, the sick and the elderly. In a particular way, my heart goes out to the bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful who have been cruelly abducted, taken hostage or enslaved.... Just as in the early Church the blood of the martyrs was the seed of new Christians, so in our own day may the blood of so many martyrs be a seed of unity between believers, a sign and instrument of a future of communion and peace."

The next meeting will take place in Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia, hosted by the Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of All Armenians). The day of arrival will be Monday, 29 January. Separate family meetings will take place on the morning of Tuesday, 30 January, followed by plenary meetings on the afternoon of Tuesday, 30 January, and on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 31 January-3 February. The members will participate in a special ecumenical service on Sunday, 4 February. Deparures will be on Monday, 5 February.

The members of the Commission are:

Representatives of the Oriental Orthodox Churches (in alphabetical order)

Antiochian Syrian Orthodox Church: H.E. Mor Theophilus George Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon, Beirut, Lebanon; H.E. Kuriakose Theophilose, Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary and President of the Ecumenical Secretariat of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in India, Ernakulam, India;

Armenian Apostolic Church: Catholicosate of all Armenians: H.E. Khajag Barsamian, Archbishop of the Eastern Diocese of the USA, New York; Reverend Father Shahe Ananyan, Director of the Intercultural Relationships Department, Etchmiadzin, Armenia;

Armenian Apostolic Churc: Holy See of Cilicia: H.E. Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus, Nicosia (unable to attend, represented by H.E. Bishop Meghrig Parikian, Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon); H.E. Bishop Magar Ashkarian, Proxy of the Armenian Prelacy, Teheran, Iran;

Coptic Orthodox Church: H.E. Anba Bishoy, Metropolitan of Damiette, Egypt (co-chair); Rev. Fr. Shenouda Maher Ishak, West Henrietta, New York, USA; H.G. Bishop Daniel of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney, Australia (Observer); H.G. Bishop Barnaba El Soryany, Rome, Italy (Observer); H.G. Bishop Kyrillos, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Dean of the St. Athanasius St. Cyril Coptic Orthodox Theological School (observer);

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church: no representative was able to attend;

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: Archbishop Gabriel of Sidamo (unable to attend); Rev. Fr, Daniel Seifemichael Feleke of Holy Trinity Theological University College in Addis Ababa;

Malankara Orhodox Syrian Church: H.E. Metropolitan Dr. Gabriel Mar Gregorios, President of the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Metropolitan of the Diocese of Trivandrum, India; H.E. Metropolitan Dr. Youhanon Mar Demetrios (co-secretary), Metropolitan of the Diocese of Delhi, India.

Representatives of the Catholic Church

His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (co-chair);

Most Reverend Paul-Werner Scheele, Bishop Emeritus of W├╝rzburg, Germany (unable to attend);

Most Reverend Youhanna Golta, Patriarchal Auxiliary Bishop of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate, Cairo, Egypt;

Most Reverend Archbishop Basilios Georges Casmoussa, Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, Beirut, Lebanon;

Most Reverend Peter Marayati, Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria;

Most Reverend Woldetensae Ghebreghiorghis, Apostolic Vicar Emeritus of Harar, Ethiopia, President of the Ecumenical Commission of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia;

Most Reverend Paul Rouhana, OLM, Bishop of the Patriarchal Maronite Vicariate of Sarba, Jounieh, Lebanon;

Most Reverend Boghos Levon Zekiyan, Archbishop of Istanbul and Turkey for the Catholic Armenians;

Rev. Fr. Frans Bouwen, M.Afr., Sainte-Anne, Jerusalem;

Rev. Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, Executive Director, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, Professor of Theology, Saint John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA;

Rev. Fr. Ronald G. Roberson, CSP, Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC, USA (unable to attend);

Rev. Fr. Mark Sheridan, OSB, Collegio di S. Anselmo, Rome;

Rev. Malpan Fr. Mathew Vellanickal, Spirituality Center, Manganam, Kottayam, India;

Prof. Dietmar W. Winkler, Consultant to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Salzburg, Austria.

Rev. Monsignor Gabriel Quicke, Official of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome (co-secretary).

Rome, January 27, 2017