The Assyrian Church of the East (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪܝܐ), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܘܫܠܝܚܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪܝܐ ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Assyria, northern Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – the Church of the East. Unlike most other churches that trace their origins to antiquity, the modern Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other churches, either Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Catholic.
Theologically, the church is associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, leading to the church, perhaps inaccurately, also being known as a "Nestorian Church", though church leadership has at times rejected the Nestorian label, and was already extant some four centuries prior to Nestorius. The church employs the Syriac dialect of the Aramaic language in its liturgy, the East Syrian Rite, which includes three anaphoras, attributed to Saints Addai and Mari, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius.
The Church of the East developed between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD from the early Assyrian Christian communities in the Assuristan province (Parthian ruled Assyria) of the Parthian Empire, and at its height had spread from its north Mesopotamian heartland to as far as China, Central Asia and India. A dispute over patriarchal succession led to the Schism of 1552, resulting in there being two rival Patriarchs. One of the factions that eventually emerged from this split became the Assyrian Church of the East, while another became the church now known as the Chaldean Catholic Church, originally called The Church of Athura (Assyria) and Mosul, which eventually entered into communion with the Catholic Church, both in continuation from the Church of the East.
A more recent schism in the church resulted from the adoption of the Assyrian Church of the East of the Gregorian Calendar rather than maintaining the traditional Julian calendar that is off by 13 days. The opponents to the reforms introduced formed in 1964 the Ancient Church of the East headquartered in Baghdad and headed since 1968 by a separate Catholicos-Patriarch.
The Assyrian Church of the East is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, who currently presides in exile in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Below the Catholicos-Patriarch are a number of metropolitan bishops, diocesan bishops, priests, and deacons who serve dioceses and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the Caucasus and Russia).
Early years of the Church of the East
The Church of the East originally developed during the 1st century AD in the Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic speaking regions of Assyria and northwestern Persia (today's Iraq, southeast Turkey, northeast Syria and north western Iran), to the east of the Roman-Byzantine empire. It is an Apostolic church, established by the apostles St Thomas (Mar Toma), St Thaddeus (Mar Addai), and St Bartholomew (Mar Bar Tulmay). St Peter (Mar Shimun Keapa), the chief of the apostles added his blessing to the Church of the East at the time of his visit to the see at Babylon, in the earliest days of the church when stating, "The elect church which is in Babylon, salutes you; and Mark, my son (1 Peter 5:13).
Official recognition was first granted to the Christian faith in the 4th century with the accession of Yazdegerd I to the throne of the Sassanid Empire. In 410, the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, held at the Sassanid capital, allowed the Church's leading bishops to elect a formal Catholicos, or leader. The Catholicos, Mar Isaac, was required both to lead the Assyrian Christian community, and to answer on its behalf to the Sassanid Emperor.
Under pressure from the Sassanid Emperor, the Church of the East sought increasingly to distance itself from the western (Roman Empire) Catholic Church. In 424, the bishops of the Sassanid Empire met in council under the leadership of Catholicos Mar Dadisho I (421–456) and determined that they would not, henceforth, refer disciplinary or theological problems to any external power, and especially not to any bishop or Church Council in the Roman Empire.
As such, the Mesopotamian and Assyrian Churches were not represented at the various Church Councils attended by representatives of the Western Church. Accordingly, the leaders of the Church of the East did not feel bound by any decisions of what came to be regarded as Roman Imperial Councils. Despite this, the Creed and Canons of the first Council of Nicea (325); affirming the full divinity of Christ; were formally accepted at the Synod of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The Church's understanding of the term 'hypostasis' differs from the definition of the term offered at the Council of Chalcedon. For this reason, the Assyrian Church has never approved the Chalcedonian definition.
The theological controversy that followed the First Council of Ephesus, in 431, proved a turning point in the Church's history. The Council condemned as heretical the Christology of Nestorius, whose reluctance to accord the Virgin Mary the title 'Theotokos' ('God-bearer' or 'Mother of God') was taken as evidence that he believed two separate persons (as opposed to two united natures) to be present within Christ. (For the theological issues at stake, see Assyrian Church of the East and Nestorianism.)
The Sassanid Emperor, hostile to the Roman Empire, saw the opportunity to ensure the loyalty of his Christian subjects and lent support to the Nestorian schism. The Sassanid Emperor took steps to cement the primacy of the Nestorian party within the Church of the East, granting its members his protection, and executing the pro-Roman Catholicos Babowai, replacing him with the Nestorian Bishop of Nisibis, Barsauma. The Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Babai I (497–503) confirmed the association of the Persian Church with Nestorianism.
During the medieval period the geographical horizons of the Church of the East extended well beyond its heartland in present-day northern Iraq. Communities sprang up throughout Central Asia, and missionaries from Assyria and Mesopotamia took the Christian faith as far as China and the Malabar Coast of India.
Schism and the establishment of the Chaldean Church
The massacres of Assyrian Christians by Tamerlane (1336–1405) destroyed many bishoprics, including the ancient Assyrian city of Ashur. The Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as China, was largely reduced to an Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian remnant living in its original heartland in Upper Mesopotamia (what had been Assyria), the triangular area between Amid, Salmas and Mosul. The See was moved to the Assyrian town of Alqosh, in the Mosul region, and Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437–1493) appointed Patriarch, establishing a new, hereditary, line of succession.
Growing dissent in the church's hierarchy over hereditary succession came to a head in 1552, when a group of bishops from the Northern regions of Amid and Salmas elected Mar Yohannan Sulaqa as a rival Patriarch. Seeking consecration as Patriarch by a Bishop of Metropolitan rank, Sulaqa traveled to Rome in 1553, and entered into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. On being appointed Patriarch, Sulaqa took the name Mar Shimun VIII and was granted the title of "Patriarch of Mosul and Athur (Assyria)". Later this title became "Patriarch of the Chaldeans", despite none of its adherents being from the long disappeared Chaldean tribe, or from what had been Chaldea in the far south east of Mesopotamia.
Mar Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa returned to the Near East the same year, establishing his seat in Amid. Before being put to death by partisans of the Patriarch of Alqosh, he ordained five metropolitan bishops, thus establishing a new ecclesiastical hierarchy, a line of patriarchal descent known as the Shimun line.
Sees in Qochanis, Amid, and Alqosh (17th century)
Relations with Rome weakened under Shimun VIII's successors, all of whom took the name Shimun. The last of this line of Patriarchs to be formally recognized by the Pope died in the early 17th century. Hereditary accession to the office of Patriarch was reintroduced, and by 1660 the Assyrian Church of the East had become divided into two Patriarchates; the Eliya line, based in Alqosh (comprising that portion of the faithful which had never entered into Communion with Rome), and the Shimun line.
The so-called Chaldean Patriarchate was revived in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, then the Assyrian Church of the East metropolitan of Amid, entered into communion with Rome, thus separating from the Patriarchal See of Alqosh. In 1681, the Holy See granted Mar Joseph the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its Patriarch", thus forming the third Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East. It was this third Patriarchate that was to become known as the Chaldean Catholic Church in 1683.
Josephite line of Amid
Each of Joseph I's successors took the name Joseph. The life of this Patriarchate was difficult; stricken early on with internal dissent, the Patriarchiate later struggled with financial difficulties due to the tax burden imposed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Despite these difficulties, the influence of the Patriarchate expanded from its original homeland of Amid and Mardin towards the area of Mosul, where ultimately the See was relocated.
Mar Yohannan VIII Hormizd, the last of the Eliya hereditary line of the Assyrian Church of the East in Alqosh, made a Catholic profession of faith in 1780. Though entering full communion with the Roman See in 1804, he was not recognized as Patriarch by the Pope until 1830. This move merged the majority of the Patriarcate of Alqosh with the Josephite line of Amid, thus forming the modern Chaldean Catholic Church.
The Shimun line of Patriarchs, based in Qochanis, remained within the Assyrian Church of the East, and refused to enter communion with Rome and join the Chaldean Church. The Patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, with its see in Chicago, forms the continuation of this line.
In 1915 the Assyrian Church see at Qochanis see was completely destroyed by the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the context of the Assyrian Genocide, Assyrian war of independence and Armenian Genocide. Survivors of the massacres escaped by marching over the mountains into Iran and Iraq to join their kinsmen. In 1918, after the murder of Mar Shimun XXI Benyamin and 150 of his followers, and fearing further massacres at the hands of the Turks and Kurds, the survivors fled from Iran into what was to become Iraq, seeking protection under the British mandate there, and joining ancient indigenous existing Assyrian communities of both Eastern Rite and Catholic persuasions in the north of that country.
The British administration employed Assyrian troops (Assyrian Levies) to put down Arab and Kurdish rebellions in the aftermath of World War I. In consequence, Assyrians of all denominations endured persecution under the Hashemite monarchy, leading many to flee to the West, in particular to the United States, where Chicago became the center of the diaspora community.
Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII
During this period the British-educated Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, born into the line of Patriarchs at Qochanis, agitated for an independent Assyrian state. Following the end of the British mandate in 1933 and a massacre of Assyrian civilians at Simele by the Iraqi Army, the Patriarch was forced to take refuge in Cyprus. There, Shimun petitioned the League of Nations regarding his peoples' fate, but to little avail, and he was consequently barred from entering Syria and Iraq. He traveled through Europe before moving to Chicago in 1940 to join the growing Assyrian diaspora community there.
The Church and the Assyrian community in general faced considerable fragmentation and upheaval as a result of the conflicts of the 20th century, and Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII was forced to reorganize the church's structure in the United States. He transferred his residence to San Francisco, California in 1954, and was able to travel to Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, and India, where he worked to strengthen the church.
In 1964 he decreed a number of changes to the church, including liturgical reform, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, and the shortening of Lent. These changes, combined with Shimun's long absence from Iraq, caused a rift in the community which led to another schism. In 1968 traditionalists within the church elected Mar Thoma Darmo as a rival patriarch to Shimun XXIII Eshai, creating the Ancient Church of the East.
In 1972, Shimun decided to step down as Patriarch, and the following year, he married, in contravention to longstanding church custom. This led to a synod in 1973 in which further reforms were introduced, most significantly including the permanent abolition of hereditary succession a practice introduced in the middle of the fifteenth century by the patriarch Shemʿon IV Basidi who had died in 1497); however, it was decided that Shimun should be reinstated. This matter was to be settled at additional synods in 1975, however Shimun was assassinated by an estranged relative before this could take place.
Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV
In 1976, the current Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, was elected as Shimun XXIII Eshai's successor. The 33-year old Dinkha had previously been Metropolitan of Tehran, and operated his see there until the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–1988. Thereafter, Mar Dinkha IV went into exile in the United States, and transferred the patriarchal see to Chicago. Much of his patriarchate has been concerned with tending to the Assyrian diaspora community and with ecumenical efforts to strengthen relations with other churches.
Assyrian Church of the East and Nestorianism
The Nestorian nature of Assyrian Christianity remains a matter of contention. Elements of the Nestorian doctrine were explicitly repudiated by Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV (South Sudan is considered to have many Israelites. One of it's ethnicities is called Dinka) on the occasion of his accession in 1976.
The Christology of the Church of the East has its roots in the Antiochene theological tradition of the early Church. The founders of Assyrian theology are Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, both of whom taught at Antioch. 'Antiochene' is a modern designation given to the style of theology associated with the early Church at Antioch, as contrasted with the theology of the church of Alexandria.
Antiochene theology emphasised Christ's humanity and the reality of the moral choices he faced. In order to preserve the impassibility of Christ's Divine Nature, the unity of His person was defined in a looser fashion than in the Alexandrian tradition. The normative Christology of the Assyrian church was written by Babai the Great (551–628) during the controversy that followed the First Council of Ephesus (431). Babai held that within Christ there exist two qnome (essences, or hypostases), unmingled, but everlastingly united in the one prosopon(personality).
The precise Christological teachings of Nestorius are shrouded in obscurity. Wary of monophysitism, Nestorius rejected Cyril's theory of a hypostatic union, proposing instead a union of will. Nestorianism has come to mean dyaphysitism, in which Christ's dual natures are eternally separate, though it is doubtful whether Nestorius ever taught such a doctrine. Nestorius' rejection of the term Theotokos ('God-bearer', or 'Mother of God') has traditionally been held as evidence that he asserted the existence of two persons – not merely two natures – in Jesus Christ, but there exists no evidence that Nestorius denied Christ's oneness. In the controversy that followed the Council of Ephesus, the term 'Nestorian' was applied to all upholding a strictly Antiochene Christology. In consequence the Church of the East was labelled 'Nestorian', though its theology is not dyophysite.
The Church is governed by an episcopal polity, which is the same as other Catholic churches. The church maintains a system of geographical parishes organized into dioceses and archdioceses. The Catholicos-Patriarch, currently Mar Dinkha IV is head of the church. The Synod comprises Bishops who oversee individual dioceses, and Metropolitans who oversee episcopal dioceses in there territorial jurisdiction.
The Chaldean Syrian Church in India and the Persian Gulf is the largest diocese of the church. Its story goes back to the Church of the East that established presence in Kerala. The converts were from lower, untouchable castes, for in a caste-ridden Malabar society. During times of disturbances in the Persian Empire and the Middle East, Assyrian inflow into Kerala ceased and local converts had to take responsibility for the churches. Nevertheless, Malabar churches retained their Nestorian connections. Connection between the Malabar church and the Church of the East was sporadic for a long period till the arrival of the Portuguese. The church is represented by the Assyrian Church of the East and is in communion with it.
The current hierarchy and dioceses is as follows. The Patriarchate of the Church of the East was located for centuries in the cathedral church of Mar Shallita, in the village of Qudshanis in the Hakkari mountains, Ottoman Empire. After the exodus in 1915 the Patriarchs temporarily resided between Urmia and Salmas, and from 1918 the patriarchs resided in Mosul, Iraq. After the Simele massacre of 1933, the then Patriarch Shimun XXIII Eshai was exiled to Cyprus. In 1940 he was welcomed to the United States where he set up his residence in Chicago, Illinois and administrated the United States and Canada as his Patriarchal province. The patriarchate was moved to Modesto, California in 1954, and finally to San Francisco, California in 1958 due to health issues. After the assassination of the Patriarch and the election of Mar Dinkha IV in 1976, the patriarchate was temporarily located in Tehran, Iran where the patriarch already resided. Since 1980, the Patriarchate again returned to Chicago, Illinois where it currently remains. The Diocese of Eastern United States served as the patriarch's province from 1994 until 2012.
Due to the unstable political, religious and economic situation in the church's historical homeland of the Middle East, many of the church members now reside in Western countries. Churches and dioceses have been established throughout Europe, America and Oceania. The largest expatriate concentration of church members is in the United States, mainly situated in Illinois and California.
Church of the East (Nestorian Christianity)
The Church of the East (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ʿĒ(d)tāʾ d-Maḏn(ə)ḥāʾ), derogatorily and both doctrinally, historically and chronologically innacurrately known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. It was founded in Assyria (Athura) in northern Mesopotamia between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, during the Parthian Empire. It was to become the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, and quickly spread widely through Asia. Between the 9th and 14th centuries it was the world's largest Christian church in terms of geographical extent, with dioceses stretching from the Mediterranean to China and India. Several modern churches claim continuity with the historical Church of the East.
The Church of the East was headed by the Patriarch of the East, continuing a line that, according to tradition, stretched back to the Apostolic Age. Liturgically, the church commonly adhered to the East Syrian Rite, and theologically, it later became associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, which emphasized the distinctness of the divine and human natures of Jesus. This doctrine and its chief proponent, Nestorius (386–451), were condemned by the First Council of Ephesus in 431, leading to the Nestorian Schism and a subsequent exodus of Nestorius' supporters to Sassanid Persia. The existing Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian Christians within the Sassanid Empire welcomed these refugees and adopted Nestorian doctrine at the Synod of Acacius in 486AD (officially adopting the decrees of the local 484AD synod of Bit Lapat), leading the Church of the East to be known alternately as the Nestorian Church. However, in 544AD the controversial Synod of Mar Aba I attempted to reverse the influence of 484 and 486 and was the basis of the reforms carried out by Babai lauded by Rome as well as the Assyrians and their branches. Eventually, the Church of the East rejected Babai and Mar Aba I but accepted King Khosrau's Synod of 612AD which was the first to describe Miaphysite Christology later adopted by the Oriental Orthodox. Catholicos Timothy I of Baghdad is perhaps the best recorded exemplar of the Church's approach to a wide variety of subjects at the turn of the 9th century AD.
The church grew rapidly under the Sassanids, and following the Islamic conquest of Persia, it was designated as a protected dhimmi community under Muslim rule. From the 6th century, it expanded greatly from its north Mesopotamian heartland, establishing communities in India (the Saint Thomas Christians), among the Mongol tribes in Central Asia, and China, which was home to a thriving Church of the East Christian community under the Tang Dynasty from the 7th to the 9th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries the church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire, which had influential Church of the East Christians in the Mongol court.
From its peak of geographical extent, the church experienced a rapid period of decline starting in the 14th century, due in large part to outside influences. The Mongol Empire dissolved into civil war, the Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols and ejected Christians and other foreign influences from China (also including Manichaeism), and many Mongols in Central Asia converted to Islam. The Muslim Mongol leader Timur (1336–1405) nearly eradicated the remaining Assyrian Christians in Mesopotamia; thereafter, Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to Upper Mesopotamia and the Malabar Coast of India. In the 16th century, the Church of the East in the Assyrian homeland of northern Mesopotamia went into a schism from which two distinct churches eventually emerged amongst the Assyrians: the modern Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See.
Organization and structure
The head of the church, the Patriarch of the Church of the East, also bears the title of Catholicos. Like the churches from which it developed, the Church of the East has an ordained clergy divided into the three traditional orders of deacon, priest (or presbyter), and bishop. Also like other churches, it has an episcopal polity: organization by dioceses, each headed by a bishop and made up of several individual parish communities overseen by priests. Dioceses are organized into provinces under the authority of a metropolitan bishop. The office of metropolitan bishop is an important one, and comes with additional duties and powers; canonically, only metropolitans can consecrate a patriarch. The Patriarch also has the charge of a province: the Province of the Patriarch.
For most of its history the church had six or so Interior Provinces in its heartland in northern Mesopotamia, south eastern Anatolia, and north western Persia, and an increasing number of Exterior Provinces elsewhere. Most of these latter were located farther afield within the territory of the Sassanids (and later of the Caliphate), but very early on, provinces formed beyond the empire's borders as well. By the 10th century, the church had between 20 and 30 metropolitan provinces including in China and India. The Chinese provinces were lost in the 11th century, and in the subsequent centuries, other exterior provinces went into decline as well. However, in the 13th century, during the Mongol Empire, the church added two new metropolitan provinces in northern China, Tangut and Katai and Ong.
Nestorian priests in a procession on Palm Sunday, in a 7th- or 8th-century wall painting from a Nestorian church in China, Tang Dynasty
The Church of the East is associated with Nestorianism, a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 – 431 AD, which emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus.
Nestorius's doctrine represented the culmination of a philosophical current developed by scholars at the School of Antioch, most notably Nestorius's mentor Theodore of Mopsuestia. This became a source of controversy when Nestorius publicly challenged usage of the title Theotokos (literally, "Bearer of God") for the Virgin Mary. He suggested that the title denied Christ's full humanity, arguing instead that Jesus had two loosely joined natures, the divine Logos and the human Jesus, and proposed Christotokos (literally, "Bearer of the Christ") as a more suitable alternative title. These statements drew criticism from other prominent churchmen, particularly from Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, leading to the First Council of Ephesus in 431, which condemned Nestorius for heresy and deposed him as patriarch. Nestorianism was officially anathematized, a ruling reiterated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. However, a number of churches, particularly those associated with the School of Edessa in Assyria and northern Mesopotamia, supported Nestorius—though not necessarily the doctrine ascribed to him—and broke with the churches of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Many of Nestorius' supporters relocated to Sassanid Persia. These events are known as the Nestorian Schism.
Christological spectrum during the 5th–7th centuries showing the views of The Church of the East (light blue)
Although the "Nestorian" label was initially a theological one, applied to followers of the Nestorian doctrine, it was soon applied to all associated Eastern Rite churches with little regard for theological consideration. While often used disparagingly in the West to emphasize the Church of the East's connections to a heretical doctrine, many writers of the Middle Ages and since have simply used the label descriptively, as a neutral and conventional term for the church. Other names for the church include "Persian Church", "Syriac" or "Syrian" (often distinguished as East Syriac/Syrian), and "Assyrian".
In modern times some scholars have sought to avoid the Nestorian label, preferring "Church of the East" or one of the other alternatives. This is due both to the term's derogatory connotations, and because it implies a stronger connection to Nestorian doctrine than may have historically existed. As Wilhelm Baum and Dietmar W. Winkler said, "Nestorius himself was no Nestorian" in terms of doctrine. Even from the beginning, not all churches called "Nestorian" adhered to the Nestorian doctrine; in China, it has been noted that none of the various sources for the local Nestorian church refer to Christ as having two natures. As such, in 2006 an academic conference changed its name from "Research on Nestorianism in China", explaining in the Preface, "...it was decided not to keep the term "Nestorianism" in the title of the future conferences and the present book, but to use the term Church of the East, which is correct and wide enough to cover the whole field of the research."
The 2000 work, The Ecclesiastical Organisation of the Church of the East, 1318–1913, offers an explanation in the first chapter:
The terminology used in this study deserves a word of explanation. Until recently the Church of the East was usually called the 'Nestorian' church, and East Syrian Christians were either 'Nestorians' or (after the schism of 1552) by the ethnic and geographic misnomer 'Chaldeans'. During the period covered in this study, the word 'Nestorian' was used both as a term of abuse by those who disapproved of the traditional East Syrian theology, as a term of pride by many of its defenders (including Abdisho of Nisibis in 1318, the Mosul patriarch Eliya X Yohannan Marogin in 1672, and the Qudshanis patriarch Shem'on XVII Abraham in 1842), and as a neutral and convenient descriptive term by others. Nowadays it is generally felt that the term carries a stigma, and students of the Church of the East are advised to avoid its use. In this thesis the theologically neutral adjective 'East Syrian' has been used wherever possible, and the term 'traditionalist' to distinguish the non-Catholic branch of the Church of the East after the schism of 1552. The modern term 'Assyrian', often used in the same sense, was unknown for most of the period covered in this study, and has been avoided.
The church was formed in Parthian and Sassanid ruled Assyria (Athura/Assuristan) and many of its original members in Upper Mesopotamia and south eastern Anatolia had since ancient times been described by both themselves and neighbouring peoples as Assyrians, however the church itself did not specifically use the prefix Assyrian until later times.
The Assyrian Church of the East has shunned the "Nestorian" label in recent times. The church's present head, Catholicos-Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, explicitly rejected the term on the occasion of his consecration in 1976.
The Peshitta, in some cases lightly revised and with missing books added, is the standard Syriac Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Indian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Maronite Church, the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syro-Malabar Church and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated from the Hebrew, although the date and circumstances of this are not entirely clear. The translators may have been Syriac-speaking Jews, or the early Jewish converts to Christianity. The translation could have been done separately for different Old Testament texts, and the whole work was probably done by the 2nd century AD.
The New Testament of the Peshitta, which originally excluded certain disputed books (2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation), had become the standard by the early 5th century.
Parthian and Sassanid periods
Christians were already forming communities in Assyria (Athura) as early as the first century, when it was part of the Parthian Empire. By the third century, the area had been conquered by the Persian Sassanid Empire (becoming the province of Assuristan), and there were significant Christian communities in northern Mesopotamia, Elam, and Fars. The Church of the East traced its origins ultimately to the evangelical activity of the apostles Addai, Mari and Thomas, but leadership and structure was disorganized until the establishment of the diocese of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, the bishop of which came to be recognized as Catholicos, or universal leader, of the church. This position received an additional title later, Patriarch of the East.
These early Christian communities in Assyria, Elam and Fars were reinforced in the fourth and fifth centuries by large-scale deportations of Christians from the eastern Roman Empire. However, the Persian Church faced several severe persecutions, notably during the reign of Shapur II (339–79), from the ethnically Persian Zoroastrian majority who accused it of Roman leanings. The church grew considerably during the Sassanid period, but the pressure of persecution led to the Persian Church declaring itself independent of all other Christian churches in 424.
Meanwhile, in the Roman Empire, the Nestorian Schism had led many of Nestorius' supporters to relocate to the Persian Empire. The Persian Church increasingly aligned itself with the Nestorian schismatics, a measure encouraged by the Zoroastrian ruling class. The church became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine over the next decades, furthering the divide between Roman and Nestorian Christendom. In 486 the Metropolitan of Nisibis, Barsauma, publicly accepted Nestorius' mentor, Theodore of Mopsuestia, as a spiritual authority. In 489, when the School of Edessa in Mesopotamia was closed by Byzantine Emperor Zeno for its Nestorian teachings, the school relocated to its original home of Nisibis, becoming again the School of Nisibis, leading to a wave of Nestorian immigration into the Persian Empire. TheChurch of the East patriarch Mar Babai I (497–502) reiterated and expanded upon his predecessors' esteem for Theodore, solidifying the church's adoption of Nestorianism.
Now firmly established in the Persian Empire, with centers in Nisibis, Ctesiphon, and Gundeshapur, and several metropolitan sees, the Church of the East began to branch out beyond the Persian Sassanid Empire. However, through the 6th century the church was frequently beset with internal strife and persecution from the Zoroastrians. The infighting led to a schism, which lasted from 521 until around 539, when the issues were resolved. However, immediately afterward Roman-Persian conflict led to a renewed persecution of the church by the Sassanid King Khosrau I; this ended in 545. The church survived these trials under the guidance of Patriarch Mar Abba I, who had converted to Christianity from Zoroastrianism.
By the end of the 5th century and the middle of the 6th, the area occupied by Nestorians included "all the countries to the east and those immediately to the west of the Euphrates", including Persia, Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Socotra, Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia), Media, Bactria, Hyrcania, and India; and possibly also to places called Calliana, Male, and Sielediva (Ceylon). Beneath the Patriarch in the hierarchy were nine metropolitans, and clergy were recorded among the Huns, in Persarmenia, Media, and the island of Dioscoris in the Indian Ocean.
Nestorian Christianity also flourished in the kingdom of the Lakhmids until the Islamic conquest, particularly after the ruler Al-Nu'man III ibn al-Mundhir officially converted in c. 592.
Ecclesiastical provinces of the Church of the East in 10th century
After the Sassanid Empire was conquered by Muslim Arabs in 644, the newly established Rashidun Caliphate designated the Church of the East as an official dhimmi minority group headed by the Patriarch of the East. As with all other Christian and Jewish groups given the same status, the Church was restricted within the Caliphate, but also given a degree of protection. Nestorians were not permitted to proselytize or attempt to convert Muslims, but their missionaries were otherwise given a free hand, and they increased missionary efforts farther afield. Missionaries established dioceses in India (the Saint Thomas Christians). They made some advances in Egypt, despite the strong Monophysite presence there, and they entered Central Asia, where they had significant success converting local Tartar tribes. Nestorian missionaries were firmly established in China during the early part of the Tang Dynasty (618–907); the Chinese source known as the Nestorian Stele describes a mission under a proselyte named Alopen as introducing Nestorian Christianity to China in 635. In the 7th century, the Church had grown to have two Nestorian archbishops, and over 20 bishops east of the Iranian border of the Oxus River.
The patriarch Timothy I (780–823), a contemporary of the caliph Harun al-Rashid, took a particularly keen interest in the missionary expansion of the Church of the East. He is known to have consecrated metropolitans for Damascus, for Armenia, for Dailam and Gilan in Azerbaijan, for Rai in Tabaristan, for Sarbaz in Segestan, for the Turks of Central Asia, for China, and possibly also for Tibet. He also detached India from the metropolitan province of Fars and made it a separate metropolitan province, known as India. By the 10th century the Church of the East had a number of dioceses stretching from across the Caliphate's territories to India and China.
Nestorian Christians made substantial contributions to the Islamic Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, particularly in translating the works of the ancient Greek philosophers to Syriac and Arabic. Nestorians made their own contributions to philosophy, science (such as Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Qusta ibn Luqa, Masawaiyh, Patriarch Eutychius, Jabril ibn Bukhtishu) and theology (such as Tatian, Bar Daisan, Babai the Great, Nestorius, Toma bar Yacoub). The personal physicians of the Abbasid Caliphs were often Assyrian Christians such as the long serving Bukhtishu dynasty.
The Church of the East had a vigorous corps of missionaries, who proceeded eastward from their base in Persia, having particular success in India, among the Mongols, and reaching as far as China and Korea.
The Saint Thomas Christian community of Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelism of Thomas the Apostle, had a long connection with the Church of the East. The earliest known organized Christian presence in Kerala dates to the 3rd century, when Nestorian Christian settlers and missionaries from Persia settled in the region. The Saint Thomas Christians traditionally credit the mission of Thomas of Cana, a Nestorian from the Middle East, with the further expansion of their community. From at least the early 4th century, the Patriarch of the Church of the East provided the Saint Thomas Christians with clergy, holy texts, and ecclesiastical infrastructure, and around 650 Patriarch Ishoyahb III solidified the church's jurisdiction in India. In the 8th century Patriarch Timothy I organised the community as the Ecclesiastical Province of India, one of the church's Provinces of the Exterior. After this point the Province of India was headed by a metropolitan bishop, provided from Persia, who oversaw a varying number of bishops as well as a native Archdeacon, who had authority over the clergy and also wielded a great amount of secular power. The metropolitan see was probably in Cranganore, or (perhaps nominally) in Mylapore, where the shrine of Thomas was located.
In the 12th century Indian Nestorianism engaged the Western imagination in the figure of Prester John, supposedly a Nestorian ruler of India who held the offices of both king and priest. The geographically remote Malabar church survived the decay of the Nestorian hierarchy elsewhere, enduring until the 16th century when the Portuguese arrived in India. The Portuguese at first accepted the Nestorian sect, but by the end of the century they had determined to actively bring the Saint Thomas Christians into full communion with Rome under the Latin Rite. They installed Portuguese bishops over the local sees and made liturgical changes to accord with the Latin practice. In 1599 the Synod of Diamper, overseen by Aleixo de Menezes, Archbishop of Goa, led to a revolt among the Saint Thomas Christians; the majority of them broke with the Catholic Church and vowed never to submit to the Portuguese in the Coonan Cross Oath of 1653. In 1661 Pope Alexander VII responded by sending a delegation of Carmelites headed by Chaldean Catholics to re-establish the East Syrian rites under an Eastern Catholic hierarchy; by the next year, 84 of the 116 communities returned, forming the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The rest, which became known as the Malankara Church, soon entered into communion with the Syriac Orthodox Church; from the Malankara Church has also come the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.
Christianity reached China by 635, and its relics can still be seen in Chinese cities such as Xi'an. The Nestorian Stele, set up on 7 January 781 at the then-capital of Chang'an, attributes the introduction of Christianity to a mission under a Persian cleric named Alopen in 635, in the reign of Tang Taizong during the Tang Dynasty. The inscription on the Nestorian Stele, whose dating formula mentions the patriarch Hnanishoʿ II (773–80), gives the names of several prominent Christians in China, including the metropolitan Adam, the bishop Yohannan, the 'country-bishops' Yazdbuzid and Sargis and the archdeacons Gigoi of Khumdan (Chang'an) and Gabriel of Sarag (Loyang). The names of around seventy monks are also listed.
Nestorian Christianity thrived in China for approximately 200 years, but then faced persecution from Emperor Wuzong of Tang (reigned 840–846). He suppressed all foreign religions, including Buddhism and Christianity, causing it to decline sharply in China. A Syrian monk visiting China a few decades later described many churches in ruin. The Church disappeared from China in the early 10th century, coinciding with the collapse of the Tang Dynasty and the tumult of the next years (the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period).
Christianity in China experienced a significant revival during the Mongol-created Yuan Dynasty, established after the Mongols had conquered China in the 13th century. Marco Polo in the 13th century and other medieval Western writers described many Nestorian communities remaining in China and Mongolia; however, they clearly were not as vibrant as they had been during Tang times.
Mongolia and Central Asia
The Church of the East enjoyed a final period of expansion under the Mongols. Several Mongol tribes had already been converted by Nestorian missionaries in the 7th century, and Christianity was therefore a major influence in the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan was a shamanist, but his sons took Christian wives from the powerful Kerait clan, as did their sons in turn. During the rule of Genghis's grandson, the Great Khan Mongke, Nestorian Christianity was the primary religious influence in the Empire, and this also carried over to Mongol-conquered China, during the Yuan Dynasty. It was at this point, in the late 13th century, that the Church of the East reached its greatest geographical extent. But Mongol power was already waning, as the Empire dissolved into civil war, and it reached a turning point in 1295, when Ghazan, the Mongol ruler of the Ilkhanate, made a formal conversion to Islam when he took the throne.
Jerusalem and Cyprus
Rabban Bar Sauma had initially conceived of his journey to the West as a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, so it is possible that there was a Nestorian presence in the city ca.1300. There was certainly a recognizable Nestorian presence at the Holy Sepulchre from the 1348 through 1575, as contemporary Franciscan accounts indicate. At Famagusta, Cyprus, a Nestorian community was established just before 1300, and a church was built for them ca.1339.
Schism and later history
Collapse of the exterior provinces
The 'exterior provinces' of the Church of the East, with the important exception of India, collapsed during the second half of the fourteenth century. Although little is known of the circumstances of the demise of the Nestorian dioceses in Central Asia (which may never have fully recovered from the destruction caused by the Mongols a century earlier), it was probably due to a combination of persecution, disease, and isolation.
The blame for the destruction of the Nestorian communities east of northern Iraq has often been thrown upon the Turco-Mongol leader Timur, whose campaigns during the 1390s spread havoc throughout Persia and Central Asia, but in many parts of Central Asia, Christianity had died out decades before Timur's campaigns. The surviving evidence from Central Asia, including a large number of dated graves, indicates that the crisis for the Church of the East occurred in the 1340s rather than the 1390s. Several contemporary observers, including the papal envoy Giovanni de' Marignolli, mention the murder of a Latin bishop in 1339 or 1340 by a Muslim mob in Almaliq, the chief city of Tangut, and the forcible conversion of the city's Christians to Islam.
At the end of the 19th century, tombstones in two East Syrian cemeteries were discovered and dated in Mongolia. They dated from 1342, and several commemorated deaths during a plague in 1338. In China, the last references to Nestorian and Latin Christians date from the 1350s. It is likely that all foreign Christians were expelled from China soon after the revolution of 1368, which replaced the Mongol Yuan dynasty with the xenophobic Ming dynasty.
By the 15th century, Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to the Eastern Aramaic speaking Assyrian communities of northern Mesopotamia, in and around the rough triangle formed by Mosul and Lakes Van and Urmia, the same general region where the Church of the East had first emerged between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. Small Nestorian communities were located further west, notably in Jerusalem and Cyprus, but the Malabar Christians of India represented the only significant survival of the once-thriving exterior provinces of the Church of the East.
Schism of 1552
Around the middle of the fifteenth century the patriarch Shemʿon IV Basidi made the patriarchal succession hereditary, normally from uncle to nephew. This practice, which resulted in a shortage of eligible heirs, eventually led to a schism in the Church of the East. The patriarch Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb (1539–58) caused great offense at the beginning of his reign by designating his twelve-year-old nephew Khnanishoʿ as his successor, presumably because no older relatives were available. Several years later, probably because Khnanishoʿ had died in the interim, he designated as successor his fifteen-year-old brother Eliya, the future patriarch Eliya VII (1558–91). These appointments, combined with other accusations of impropriety, caused discontent throughout the church, and by 1552 Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb had become so unpopular that a group of bishops, principally from the Amid, Sirt and Salmas districts in northern Mesopotamia, chose a new patriarch, electing a monk named Yohannan Sulaqa, the superior of Rabban Hormizd Monastery near the Assyrian town of Alqosh. However, no bishop of metropolitan rank was available to consecrate him, as canonically required. Franciscan missionaries were already at work among the Nestorians, and they persuaded Sulaqa's supporters to legitimize their position by seeking their candidate's consecration by Pope Julius III (1550–5).
Sulaqa went to Rome to put his case in person. At Rome he made a satisfactory Catholic profession of faith and presented a letter, drafted by his supporters in Mosul, which set out his claims to be recognized as patriarch. On April 9, having satisfied the Vatican that he was a good Catholic, Sulaqa was consecrated bishop and archbishop in the basilica of Saint Peter. On April 28 he was recognized as "patriarch of Athura and Mosul" by pope Julius III in the bull Divina disponente clementia and received the pallium from the pope's hands at a secret consistory in the Vatican. These events, which marked the birth of the Chaldean Catholic Church, created a permanent schism in the Church of the East.
Sulaqa was consecrated "patriarch of Athura and Mosul" in Rome in April 1553 and returned to northern Mesopotamia towards the end of the same year. In December 1553 he obtained documents from the Ottoman authorities recognizing him as an independent "Chaldean" patriarch, and in 1554, during a stay of five months in Amid, consecrated five metropolitan bishops (for the dioceses of Gazarta, Hesna d'Kifa, Amid, Mardin and Seert). Shemʿon VII Ishoʿyahb responded by consecrating two more underage members of the patriarchal family as metropolitans for Nisibis and Gazarta. He also won over the governor of ʿAmadiya, who invited Sulaqa to ʿAmadiya, imprisoned him for four months, and put him to death in January 1555.
Sees in Qochanis, Amid, and Alqosh
The connections with Rome loosened up under Shimun VIII Sulaqa's successors, who all used the patriarchal name Shimun. The last patriarch to be formally recognized by the Pope died in the 1600, and the heredity of the office was reintroduced, and thus by 1660 the Church of the East had become divided into two patriarchates, the Eliya line in Alqosh (which comprised those who had not entered in Communion with Rome) and the Shimun line. In 1672 the Patriarch of the Shimun line, Mar Shimun XIII Denha, moved his seat to the Assyrian village of Qochanis in the mountains of Hakkari. In 1692 he formally broke communion with Rome and he allegedly resumed relations with the line at Alqosh.
In the Western regions, a new start for the so called Chaldean Patriarchate began in 1672 when Mar Joseph I, then the metropolitan of Amid, entered in communion with Rome, separating from the Patriarchal see of Alqosh. In 1681 the Holy See granted him the title of "Patriarch of the Chaldeans deprived of its patriarch" as leader of the Assyrian people who stayed in communion with Rome, and thus forming the third patriarchate of the Church of the East.
Josephite line of Amid
All Joseph I's successors took the name of Joseph. The life of this patriarchate was difficult: the leadership was continually vexed by traditionalists, while the community struggled under the tax burden imposed by the Ottoman authorities. Nevertheless its influence expanded from the original towns of Amid and Mardin toward the area of Mosul, where they relocated the see.
Yohannan Hormizd, the last in the Eliya hereditary line in Alqosh, made a Catholic profession of faith in 1780. He entered full communion with the Roman see in 1804, but he was recognized as Patriarch by the Pope only in 1830. This merged the majority of the Patriarchate of Alqosh with the Josephite line of Amid, thus forming the modern Chaldean Catholic Church.
The Shimun line of patriarchs at Qochanis, which extended mainly in the Northern mountains, remained independent of the Chaldean Church, and the patriarchate of the present-day Assyrian Church of the East, now located in Chicago, Illinois, forms the continuation of this line.
The Assyrian Church of the East faced a further split in 1898, when a bishop and a number of followers from the Urmia area in Iran entered communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, and again in 1964 when some traditionalists responded to ecclesiastical reforms brought on by Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII (1908–1975) by forming the independent Ancient Church of the East.
Today the Assyrian Church has about 170,000 members, mostly living in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East is in exile in Chicago, and that of the Ancient Church of the East is in Baghdad.
In the Common Christological Declaration between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East in 1994, the two churches recognized the legitimacy and rightness of each other's titles for Mary.
Chaldean Catholic Church
The Chaldean Catholic Church (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܟܠܕܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ; ʿītha kaldetha qāthuliqetha), is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, under the Holy See of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Babylon, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church. The Chaldean Catholic Church presently comprises an estimated 500,000 people who are ethnic Assyrians indigenous to northern Iraq, and areas bordering it in southeast Turkey, northeast Syria and northwest Iran.
The history of the Chaldean Church is the history of the Church of the East founded in Assyria (Persian ruled Athura) -represented today by at least eleven different churches, including the Assyrian Church of the East, of Assyria (then ruled by the successive Parthian and Sassanid Empires, where it was known by its derivative names of Athura and Assuristan)- between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. The Assyrian region of northern Mesopotamia was also the birthplace of the Syriac language and Syriac script, both of which remain important within all strands of Syriac Christianity.
It was originally a part of The Assyrian Church of the East before the 1553 consecration of Shimun VIII Yohannan Sulaqa who entered communion with the Roman Catholic Church, when it was renamed The Church of Athura (Assyria) and Mosul, subsequent to this, it was again renamed by Rome in 1683 as The Chaldean Catholic Church, despite none of its Assyrian adherents being connected ethnically or geographically to the long extinct Chaldeans.
After the extensive massacres of Assyrian and other Christians by Tamerlane in around 1400 AD had devastated many Assyrian bishoprics, the Church of the East, which had previously extended as far as China, Central Asia, Mongolia and India, was largely reduced to Assyria, its place of origin, and followed by the core of Eastern Aramaic speaking ethnic Assyrians who lived largely in the area of Northern Mesopotamia between Amid (Diyarbakır), Harran and Hakkari in the north to Mosul and Kirkuk in the south, and from Salmas and Urmia in the east to Al-Hassakeh in the west; an area approximately encompassing ancient Assyria.:55 The episcopal see was moved to Alqosh, in the Mosul region, and Patriarch Mar Shimun IV Basidi (1437–1493) made the office of patriarch hereditary within his own family.
19th century: expansion and disaster
The following years of the Chaldean Church were marked by externally originating violence: in 1838 the monastery of Rabban Hormizd and the town of Alqosh was attacked by the Kurds of Soran and hundreds of Christian Assyrians died and in the 1843 the Kurds started to collect as much money as they could from Assyrian villages, killing those who refused: more than ten thousand Assyrian Christians of all denominations were killed and the icons of the Rabban Hormizd monastery defaced.
In 1846 the Chaldean Church was recognized by the Ottoman Empire as a millet, a distinctive religious community within the Empire, thus obtaining its civic emancipation. The most famous patriarch of the Chaldean Church in the 19th century was Joseph VI Audo who is remembered also for his clashes with Pope Pius IX mainly about his attempts to extend the Chaldean jurisdiction over the Indian Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. This time was a period of expansion for the Chaldean Catholic Church.
In the early 20th century Russian Orthodox missionaries established two dioceses in North Assyria, and many Assyrian leaders believed that the Russian Empire would be more interested in protecting them than the British Empire and the French Empire. Hoping in the support of Russians, World War I and the subsequent Assyrian Genocide was seen as the right time to rebel against the Ottoman Empire, and an Assyrian War of Independence was launched, led by Agha Petros and Malik Khoshaba. On 4 November 1914 the Turkish Enver Pasha announced the Jihad, the holy war, against the Christians. Assyrian forces fought successfully against overwhelming odds in northern Iraq, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran for a time. However the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the collapse of Armenian resistance, left the Assyrians cut off from supplies of food and ammunition, vastly outnumbered, and surrounded. Assyrian territories were overrun by the Ottoman Empire and their Kurdish and Arab allies, and the people forced to flee: most who escaped the massacres and continuation of the Assyrian Genocide died from winter cold or hunger. The disaster struck mainly the regions of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean dioceses in North Assyria (Amid, Siirt and Gazarta) were ruined (the Chaldeans metropolitans Addai Scher of Siirt and Philip Abraham of Gazarta were both killed in 1915).
A further massacre occurred in 1933 at the hands of the Iraqi Army, in the form of the Simele massacre, which resulted in thousands of deaths.
21st century: eparchies around the world
A recent development in the Chaldean Catholic Church has been the creation in 2006 of the Eparchy of Oceania, with the title of 'St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans'. This jurisdiction includes the Chaldean Catholic communities of Australia and New Zealand, and the first Bishop, named by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 October 2006, is Archbishop Djibrail (Jibrail) Kassab, until this date, Archbishop of Bassorah in Iraq. There has been a large immigration to the United States particularly to Southeast Michigan. Although the largest population resides in Southeast Michigan, there are populations in parts of California and Arizona as well. Canada in recent years has shown growing communities in both eastern provinces, such as Ontario, and in western Canada, such as Saskatchewan.
In 2008, Mar Bawai Soro of the Assyrian Church of the East and 1,000 Assyrian families were received into full communion with the Chaldean Catholic Church from the Assyrian Church of the East.
The Chaldean Catholic Church uses the East Syrian Rite.
A slight reform of the liturgy was effective since 6 January 2007, and it aimed to unify the many different uses of each parish, to remove centuries-old additions that merely imitated the Roman Rite, and for pastoral reasons. The main elements of variations are: the Anaphora said aloud by the priest, the return to the ancient architecture of the churches, the restoration of the ancient use where the bread and wine are readied before a service begins, and the removal from the Creed of the Filioque clause.
Ancient Church of the East
The Ancient Church of the East (Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܥܬܝܩܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ʿĒtā ʿAttīqtā d'Maḏnəḥā, Arabic: كنيسة المشرق القديمة), officially the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East (ܗܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܕܐܫܬܬܐܣܬ ܒܫܢܬܐ) was established in 1964. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – the Church of the East, one of the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia.
The Ancient Church of the East was established as the result of a schism within the Assyrian Church of the East, distinguishing itself by opposition to introduction into the Assyrian Church of the East of the modern Gregorian Calendar in place of the traditional Julian calendar (which differs from the Gregorian by a widening number of days, currently thirteen). The Ancient Church of the East seated itself in Baghdad, headed by a separate Catholicos-Patriarch. The first, Mar Thoma Darmo (1968–1969), was succeeded as Catholicos-Patriarch by Mar Addai II Giwargis in 1970.
The position of Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East remained vacant for the initial four years of the Church (1964-1967). In 1968, the followers of the newly established church elected a rival catholicos-patriarch Mar Thoma Darmo while Mar Shimun XXIII continued as the official head of the Assyrian Church of the East. The elected catholicos-patriarch Mar Thoma Darmo was a native of Mesopotamia, a former Metropolitan of the Assyrian Church of the East in India from 1952 to 1968 based at Thrissur, India. He became the head of the Ancient Church of the East in October 1968 and relocated to Baghdad.
Following Patriarch Mar Thoma Darmo's death in 1969, Mar Addai II was elected to head the Ancient Church of the East in February 1970.
The head of the church is the Patriarch of the Church of the East, who also bears the title of Catholicos, presently Mar Addai II. The Ancient Church of the East has an ordained clergy divided into the three traditional orders of deacon, priest (or presbyter), and bishop. It also has an episcopal polity, meaning it is organized into dioceses, each headed by a bishop and made up of several individual parish communities overseen by priests. Dioceses are organized into provinces under the authority of a metropolitan bishop.
In September 1968 Mar Addai Giwargis was consecrated Metropolitan of Iraq, Mar Aprem Mooken was consecrated Metropolitan of India, and Mar Poulose Poulose was consecrated Bishop of India. These prelates in turn consecrated Mar Thoma Darmo Catholicos-Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East during the first week of October 1968. Mar Thoma Darmo died in September 1969, and Mar Addai Giwargis became Acting Patriarch. Mar Addai Giwargis consecrated two Metropolitans in December 1969, Mar Narsai Toma for Kirkuk, and Mar Toma Eramia for Mosul and Northern Iraq. Mar Addai's jurisdiction now was Baghdad.
In February 1972, Mar Narsai Toma of Kirkuk and Mar Toma Giwargis of Nineveh consecrated Mar Addai Giwargis as Catholicos-Patriarch.
Mar Daniel Yakob, Bishop of Kirkuk for the Assyrian Church of the East was accepted in the Ancient Church of the East, in 1985, to head the North American parishes. In July 1992, Mar Yacoub Daniel was consecrated Bishop for Syria and in June 1993 Mar Emmanuel Elia as Bishop for the Patriarchate of Baghdad. In 1994, Mar Emmanuel Elia shifted his residence and became Bishop of North America (USA and Canada).
Several changes occurred in the church hierarchy during November–December 1995. Mar Aprem Mooken, Mar Pouluse Poulose and the Church in India united with the Assyrian Church of the East. Timothaus Mar Shallita was accepted into the Holy Synod and appointed Metropolitan of Europe, and Mar Yacoub Daniel was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.
In June 2010, the Ancient Church of the East Synod officially declared that the church will begin starting 2010 to celebrate Christmas on the 25 December of each year according to the Gregorian calendar. From its establishment, the church had continued to celebrate Christmas on January 7 of each year. This move will mean that both the Ancient Church of the East and the Assyrian Church of the East will follow the same calendar. The calendar issue was one of the main reasons the Church of the East had split. Easter will continue to be celebrated according to the Julian calendar.
The Ancient Church of the East acknowledges the traditional lineage of the Patriarchs of the Church of the East from Thoma Shlikha, (Saint Thomas) (c. 33-c. 77) until the schism 1964-1967 and considers itself a true continuation of this lineage.
During the reign of Mar Shimun XXIII, in 1964, a schism appeared in the Assyrian Church of the East causing the establishment of the Ancient Church of the East. The seat of the new church remained vacant for three years before Mar Thoma Darmo was assigned as Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, while Mar Shimun XXIII continued as the official head of the Assyrian Church of the East.
Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (Classical Syriac: ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܬܪܝܨܬ ܫܘܒܚܐ) is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. It employs the oldest surviving liturgy in Christianity, the Liturgy of St. James the Apostle, and uses Syriac as its official and liturgical language. The church is led by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. The Syriac Orthodox Church traces its history to one of the first Christian communities in Antioch, described in the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament, Acts 11:26) and established by the Apostle St. Peter in AD 37.
The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 but its roots date back to the first founded church outside Jerusalem in Antioch in AD 37 when and where the followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians. The precise differences in theology that caused the split, "arose only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter", according to a joint declaration by the last head of the Syriac Orthodox church, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, and Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II in 1984. However, this view is not held by the Eastern Orthodox Church, one of the participants in the Council of Chalcedon. The Syriac Orthodox Church participates in ecumenical discussions, being a member of the World Council of Churches since 1960, where the last Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas served as a president, and a member of the Middle East Council of Churches since 1974.
The Church has twenty-six archdioceses and eleven patriarchal vicariates. In 1959, the Patriarchate was moved to Damascus, modern-day Syria.
The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch claims the status as the most ancient Christian church in the world. According to Saint Luke, "The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch," (New Testament, Acts 11:26). St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostle are regarded as the cofounders of the Patriarchate of Antioch in AD 37, with the former serving as its first bishop and he is considered as the first Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
As Jewish Christianity originated at Jerusalem, so Gentile Christianity started at Antioch, then the leading center of the Hellenistic East, with Peter and Paul as its apostles. From Antioch it spread to the various cities and provinces of Syria, among the Hellenistic Syrians as well as among the Hellenistic Jews who, as a result of the great rebellions against the Romans in A.D. 70 and 130, were driven out from Jerusalem and Palestine into Syria.
When St. Peter left Antioch, Evodios and Ignatius presided over the Patriarchate. Because of the prominence of St. Ignatius in the church's history, almost all of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs since 1293 were named Ignatius.
Patriarchate of Antioch
The spiritual care of the Church was vested in the Bishop of Antioch from the earliest years of Christianity. Given the antiquity of the bishopric of Antioch and the importance of the Church in the city of Antioch which was a commercially significant city in the eastern parts of the Roman Empire, the First Council of Nicaea (325) recognized the bishopric as a Patriarchate along with the bishoprics of Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, bestowing authority for the Church of Antioch and All of the East on the Patriarch.
Even though the Synod of Nicaea was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine, the authority of the ecumenical synod was also accepted by the Church in the Persian Empire which was politically isolated from the Churches in the Roman Empire. Until 498, this Church accepted the spiritual authority of the Patriarch of Antioch. The Church also maintained a smaller non-Chalcedonian church under a Catholicos (Katholikos), known by the title Maphryono, until the 1860s. This Catholicate was canonically transferred to India in 1964 and continues today as an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church with the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch as its head.
The Christological controversies that followed the Council of Chalcedon in 451 resulted in a long struggle for the Patriarchate between those who accepted and those who rejected the Council. In 518, Patriarch Mar Severius was exiled from the city of Antioch and took refuge in Alexandria. On account of many historical upheavals and consequent hardships which the church had to undergo, the Patriarchate was transferred to different monasteries in Mesopotamia for centuries. In the 13th century it was transferred in the Mor Hananyo Monastery (Deir al-Za`faran), in southeastern Turkey near Mardin, where it remained until 1933. Due to an adverse political situation, it was transferred to Homs, Syria and in 1959 was transferred again to Damascus.
The Patriarchate office is now in Bab Tuma, in Damascus, capital of Syria; but the Patriarch resides at the Mar Aphrem Monastery in Ma`arat Sayyidnaya located about twenty five kilometers north of Damascus.
The Church of Antioch played a prominent role in the first three Synods held at Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), and Ephesus (431), shaping the formulation and early interpretation of Christian doctrines.
In terms of Christology, the Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) understanding is that Christ is "One Nature—the Logos Incarnate, of the full humanity and full divinity". Just as humans are of their mothers and fathers and not in their mothers and fathers, so too is the nature of Christ according to Oriental Orthodoxy. The Chalcedonian understanding is that Christ is "in two natures, full humanity and full divinity". This is the doctrinal difference which separated the Oriental Orthodox from the rest of Christendom.
By the 20th century the Chalcedonian schism was not seen with the same relevance, and from several meetings between the authorities of Roman Catholicism and the Oriental Orthodoxy, reconciling declarations emerged in the common statement of the Oriental Patriarch (Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas) and the Pope (John Paul II) in 1984.
The Syriac Orthodox Church is very active in ecumenical dialogues. It has been a member church of World Council of Churches since 1960 and the Patriarch, Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is one of the presidents of World Council of Churches. The Syriac Orthodox Church is also actively involved in ecumenical dialogues with the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches. There are common Christological and pastoral agreements with the Catholic Church. It has also been involved in the Middle East Council of Churches since 1974.
Since 1998, the heads of the three Oriental Churches in the Eastern Mediterranean i.e. the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicate of Cilicia, Antelias, Lebanon) meet regularly each year.
Syriac Orthodox clergy and some devout laity follow a regimen of seven prayers a day, in accordance with Psalm 119. According to the Syriac Tradition, an ecclesiastical day starts at sunset:
Evening or Ramsho prayer (Vespers)
Night prayer or Sootoro prayer (Compline)
Midnight or Lilyo prayer (Matins)
Morning or Saphro prayer (Prime or Lauds, 6 a.m.)
Third Hour or tloth sho`in prayer (Terce, 9 a.m.)
Sixth Hour or sheth sho`in prayer (Sext, noon)
Ninth Hour or tsha` sho'in prayer (None, 3 p.m.)
The liturgical service, which is called Holy Qurbono in Syriac Aramaic and means 'Eucharist', is celebrated on Sundays and special occasions. The Holy Eucharist consists of Gospel Reading, Bible Readings, Prayers, and Songs. During the celebration of the Eucharist, priests and deacons put on elaborate vestments which are unique to the Syriac Orthodox Church. Whether in the Eastern Mediterranean, India, Europe, the Americas or Australia, the same vestments are worn by all clergy.
Apart from certain readings, all prayers are sung in the form of chants and melodies. Hundreds of melodies remain and these are preserved in the book known as Beth Gazo. It is the key reference to Syriac Orthodox church music.
Bible in Syriac tradition
Syriac Orthodox Churches use the Peshitta (Syriac: simple, common) as its Bible. The Old Testament books of this Bible were translated from Greek to Syriac between the late 1st century to the early 3rd century AD.
The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century. The New Testament of the Peshitta, which originally excluded certain disputed books, had become the standard by the early 5th century, replacing two early Syriac versions of the gospels.
The Different Ranks of Priesthood in SOC i.e. Patriarch, Catholicos, Metropolitan, Corepiscopos, Priest, Deacon, Laymen.
In the Syriac Orthodox tradition, different ranks among the deacons are specifically assigned with particular duties. The six ranks of diaconate are:
Mawdyono (Confessor of Faith)
Mshamshono (Full Deacon)
Only a full deacon or Masamsono can take the censer during the Divine Liturgy to assist the priest. However, in Malankara Church, because of the lack of deacons, altar assistants who do not have any rank of deaconhood assist the priest. The deacons in Malankara Church are allowed to wear a phiro, or a cap.
The priest is the seventh rank and is the duly one appointed to administer the sacraments. Unlike in the Roman Catholic church, Syriac deacons can marry before ordained as a full priest; however he cannot marry after ordained as priest.There is another honorary rank among the priests that is Corepiscopos who has the privileges of "first among the priests" and are give a chain with cross and specific vestment decorations. Corepiscopos is the highest rank a married man can be elevated in the Syriac Orthodox Church. Any ranks above the Corepiscopos are unmarried.
Episcopos is a word that means "the one who oversees". In the Syriac Orthodox Church, an episcopos is a spiritual ruler of the church. In episcopos too there are different ranks. The highest and the supreme is the Patriarch, who is the "father of fathers". Next to him is the Maphriyono or Catholicos of India who is the head of a division of the Church. Then there are Metropolitans or Archbishops and under them there are Episcopos or Bishops.
The clergy of the Syriac Orthodox Church have unique vestments that are quite different from other Christian denominations. The vestments worn by the clergy vary with their order in the priesthood. The deacons, the priests, the bishops, and the patriarch each have different vestments.
Celebration at a Syriac Orthodox monastery in Mosul, Ottoman Syria, early 20th century
The priest's usual dress is a black robe, but in India, due to the harsh weather, priests usually wear a white robe. However, during prayers in the church, they wear a black robe over the white one. Bishops usually wear a black or a red robe with a red belt. They do not, however, wear a red robe in the presence of the Patriarch who wears a red robe. Bishops visiting a diocese outside their jurisdiction also wear black robes in deference to the bishop of the diocese, who alone wears red robes. Priests also wear phiro, or a cap, which he must wear for all the public prayers. Monks also wear eskimo, a hood. Priests also have ceremonial shoes which are called msone. Without wearing msone, a priest cannot distribute holy Eucharist to the faithful. Then there is a white robe called kutino symbolizing purity (Mormon priests, which are all worthy male members, wear white shirts every sunday symbolizing purity as well. It's the same with Shinto priests.). Hamniko or Stole is worn over this white robe. Then he wears girdle called zenoro and zende meaning sleeves. If the celebrant is a bishop, he wears a masnapto, or turban (Very different from turban worn by Sikh men). A cope called phayno is worn over these vestments. Batrashil, or Pallium, is worn over the Phayno by Bishops (Very similar to Hamnikho worn by priests). An important aspect is that Bishops and Cor-Episcopas have handheld crosses while ordinary priests have none.
Primacy of Saint Peter
The Fathers of the Syriac Orthodox Church tried to give a theological interpretation to the primacy of Saint Peter. They were fully convinced of the unique office of Peter in the primitive Christian community. Ephrem, Aphrahat and Maruthas who were supposed to be the best exponents of the early Syriac tradition unequivocally acknowledge the office of Peter.
It is estimated that the church has about 3,500,000 members globally including around 1,600,000 members in India. There is another orthodox faction in India "Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church", which has about 2,600,000 members, this church is independent and has its own Catholicos in India. There are 800,000 Syriac Orthodox members in Syria and 5,000 in Turkey, 1,750 in Palestine (500 in Jerusalem and 1,250 Bethlehem) (numbers in Iraq are unknown). In Lebanon they number up to 50,000. In the diaspora, there are approximately 80,000 members in the United States, 80,000 in Sweden, 100,000 in Germany, 15,000 in the Netherlands, 200,000 members in Brazil, Switzerland, and Austria and around 1,000,000 in Central America, including a large number of indigenous Mayan converts in Guatemala.
Since the church has never been the officially-adopted religion of a modern-day country, a unique name had long been used to distinguish the church from the polity of Syria in most languages besides English. This includes Arabic (the official language of Syria), where the Church has always been known as the "Syriani" church; the term "Syriani" being the same word used to identify the Syriac language in Arabic. The meaning of this term is entirely unique from the term for "Syrian" in Arabic, which is translated as, literally, "Syrian". Being the lone exception up until the year 2000, English identified the church as the "Syrian Orthodox Church"; with "Syrian" being derived from the term "Syrian church" used by English-speaking historians to describe the community in ancient Syria prior to the ecumenical divisions. The confusion between "Syrian" and "Syriac" in English led to some nationalists favoring the term "Syrian Orthodox" and some Assyrians favoring the term "Assyrian Orthodox". However, the term "Syrian Orthodox" failed to distinguish the church as in other languages and the term "Assyrian Orthodox" led to confusion with the Assyrian Church of the East. Hence, in 2000, a Holy Synod ruled that the church should be named after its official liturgical language of Syriac (i.e. Syriac Orthodox Church), as it is in most other languages. The official name of the church in Syriac is pronounced ʿĒdtō Suryōytō Triṣaṯ Šuḇḥō; this name has not changed, nor has it changed in any language other than English. The church is often referred to as Jacobite (after Jacob Baradaeus), but it rejects this name.
The church today has two seminaries, and numerous colleges and other institutions. Among those there are several religious institutions which are noteworthy. Patriarch Aphrem I Barsoum (†1957) established St. Aphrem's Clerical School in 1934 in Zahlé, Lebanon. In 1946 it was moved to Mosul, Iraq, where it provided the Church with a good selection of graduates, the first among them being Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas and many other Church leaders. Also the church has an international Christian education centre which is a centre for religious education. In the year 1990 he established the Order of St. Jacob Baradaeus for nuns and renovated St. Aphrem's Clerical building in Atshanneh, Lebanon for the new order.
Jurisdiction of the Patriarchate
The Syrian Orthodox Church in the Middle East has several Archdioceses and Patriarchate Vicariates in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, UAE and the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.
The Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II.
Patriarchal Office Director in Damascus Archbishop H.E. Mor Dionysius Jean Kawak.
Patriarchal Secretary in Damascus Archbishop H.E. Mor Timothius Matta AlKhori.
Archbishopric of Jazirah and Euphrates under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Eustathius Matta Roham.
Archbishopric of Aleppo under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim.
Archbishopric of Homs & Hama under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Selwanos Petros AL-nemeh.
Patriarchate Vicariate for the Archdiocese of Damascus under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Ivanius Paulose Al-Souky.
Archbishopric of Mount Lebanon under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Theophilos George Saliba.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Zahle under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Yostinos Boulos Safar.
Archbishopric of Beirut & Benevolent institutions in Lebanon under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Clemis Daniel Malak Kourieh.
The Patriarchal Institutions in Lebanon under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Chrysostoms Michael Shimon.
Archbishopric of Baghdad and Basrah under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Severius Jamil Hawa.
Archbishopric of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Nicodimus Dawood Sharaf. Served previously by the retired Archbishop but currently Patriarch Advisor H.E. Mor Gregorius Saliba Shamoun.
Archbishopric of St Matthew's "Matta" Monastery under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Timothius Mousa A. Shamani.
Archbishopric of Istanbul and Ankara under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Mardin under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Filüksinos Saliba Özmen.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Turabdin under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Timothius Samuel Aktaş.
Archbishopric of Adiyaman under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Gregorius Melki Ürek.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Israel, Palestine and Jordan under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Severios Malke Mourad.
Patriarchate Vicariate of UAE and Arab States of the Persian Gulf under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Bartholomaus Nathanael.
Bethel Suloko Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Perumbavoor, Kerala
The Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, one of the various Saint Thomas Christian churches in India, is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church, with the Patriarch of Antioch as its supreme head. The local head of the church in Malankara (India) is the Catholicos of India also called Catholicos of the East, currently Baselios Thomas I, ordained by the Patriarch in 2002 and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch. The headquarters of the church in India is at Puthencruz near Ernakulam in the state of Kerala in South India. Another church, the Indian or Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, is an independent Orthodox church Knanaya Syrian Orthodox Church is an archdiocese under the Syriac orthodox patriarchate. Unlike most other patriarchal churches abroad, the language of the Syriac Orthodox Divine Liturgy in India is mostly in Malayalam along with Syriac. This is because almost all Syrian Christians in India hail from the State of Kerala, where Malayalam is the mother tongue of the people.
The Syriac Orthodox Church has four Archdioceses and Patriarchate Vicariates in North America, one Archdiocese in Central America and the Caribbean Islands and two Patriarchate Vicariates in South America.
Patriarchate Vicariate of the Eastern USA under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim now the Patriarch His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II.
Patriarchate Vicariate of the Western USA under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan (Kaplan is a very typical Levitic last name. Not by chance it's said that Nestorian churches have Israelite origin & where made to preach the Lost Ten Tribes.).
Malankara Archdiocese of North America under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Titus Yeldho Pathickal.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Canada under the spiritual guidance and direction Archbishop H.E. Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi.
Archdiocese of Central America, the Caribbean Islands and Venezuela under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Yaqub Eduardo Aguirre Oestmann.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Argentina under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Chrysostomos John Ghassali.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Brazil under the spiritual guidance and direction of the Apostolic Nuncio H.E. Mor Theethose Bolous Toza.
The Syriac Orthodox Church in Europe has seven Archdioceses and Patriarchate Vicariates.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Belgium, France and Luxembourg under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Severius Hazail Soumi.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Germany under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Philoxenus Mattias Nayis.
Ecumenical Movement in Germany under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Julius Hanna Aydın.
Patriarchate Vicariate of the Netherlands under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Polycarpus Augin (Eugene) Aydın.
Archbishopric of Sweden and Scandinavia under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Julius Abdulahad Gallo Shabo.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Sweden under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Dioskoros Benyamen Atas.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Switzerland and Austria under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz.
Patriarchate Vicariate of the United Kingdom under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Athanasius Toma Dawod.
Patriarchate Vicariate of Australia and New Zealand under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop H.E. Mor Malatius Malki Malki.