PRESS RELEASE REGARDING THE 14TH HOLY SYNOD CONVOCATION
For Immediate Release
7 July 2012
The 14th Holy Synod of the pontificate of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos‐Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East was convened from 25 May to 1 June 2012 in Chicago, Illinois (USA) at St. Andrew’s Church, under the presidency of His Holiness the Patriarch. The prelates who met in Synod, presided over by the Catholicos‐Patriarch, were the following:
- His Beatitude Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of India;
- His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq and Russia;
- His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand & Lebanon;
- His Grace Mar Yosip Sargis, Bishop;
- His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis; Bishop of Western USA;
- His Grace Mar Emmanuel Joseph, Bishop of Canada;
- His Grace Mar Odisho Oraham, Bishop of Europe;
- His Grace Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod;
- His Grace Mar Yohannan Joseph, Bishop of India;
- His Grace Mar Awgin Kuriakose, Bishop of India;
- His Grace Mar Narsai Benyamin, Bishop of Iran;
- His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of Eastern USA.
His Grace Mar Aprim Athneil, Bishop of Syria, and His Grace Mar Iskhaq Yosip the Bishop of Nuhadra (Dohuk) and Russia were not able to attend the Holy Synod due to the situation in the Middle East. The Very Reverend Archdeacon William Toma was the recording secretary of the acts and minutes of the Holy Synod.
The Holy Synod discussed many facets of life of the Assyrian Church of the East today, and enacted a number of disciplinary canons that are of an internal nature only and are to be discussed with the clergy exclusively.
However, the acts of the Holy Synod included the election and elevation of the Very Reverend Archdeacon Paulus Benjamin, formerly rector of St. George Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois, to the sublime rank of the episcopacy for the Diocese of Eastern USA; the new bishop was given the ecclesiastical title ‘Mar Paulus.’
The Holy Synod, first and foremost, offers its prayers and supplications to Almighty God on behalf of the dioceses and parishes of the Assyrian Church of the East living in the Middle East today. The Synod continues to pray and offer its spiritual solicitude with the Assyrian communities
in both Iraq our ancestral homeland, and Syria. Prayers were offered for the stability of both countries, and for the welfare and safety of the citizens.
The Holy Synod also discussed many issues with regard to the relationship of the Assyrian Church of the East with other apostolic Churches, and in particular its ecumenical relationships. The Synod believes that in order for our common witness in the Lord Jesus Christ might be a most credible and vibrant one, close ties and the fostering of fraternal love and collaboration is necessary among the Churches who count the blessed apostles of our Lord as their founders.
The Holy Synod further discussed the matter of many historical churches and monasteries of the Assyrian Church of the East in Turkey, in particular southeastern Turkey and the Hakkari region. In these lands, our ancient ancestors lived and worshipped, and the continued permanence of these historic houses of worship gives witness to centuries‐old existence of the Assyrian Church of the East in that part of the Middle East. It is also noted by the Secretariat of the Holy Synod that a cordial and warm colloquium on a private level took place between His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos‐Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey, at the patriarchal residence in Morton Grove, Illinois, on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. The Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call to His Holiness the Patriarch, who apprised the diplomat of the condition of these historical churches and monasteries in Turkey and of their great value, both historically and religiously, not only to the Turkish Republic but to civilization in that region of the world at large. The Foreign Minister vowed to all that he could with regard to the preservation of these churches and also extended an invitation to His Holiness to visit Turkey.
During the course of the Holy Synod, a lengthy discussion also took place about the prospects of a viable and sustainable mission of the Assyrian Church of the East to China. Since it is a historically undeniable fact that the first Christian Church to reach the esteemed Chinese people
were missionaries of the Assyrian Church of the East, in as early as 635 AD, there has been a renewed interest both on the Mainland and in Hong Kong to restore the Church in China once more, historically known as the Jingjiao. A visitator from Hong Kong, Mr. David Tam, who heads the
‘Jingiao Fellowship’ based on the island, met with His Holiness the Patriarch in a private audience and expressed the desire of the Fellowship to re‐establish the Assyrian Church of the East in China once more. Discussions took place about sending missionary clergy to begin an official faith community both in Hong Kong and on the Mainland, and about the possibility of training Chinese faithful in the faith and liturgy of the Church of the East. An invitation was extended by the Jingjiao Fellowship to His Holiness to visit both Hong Kong and the Mainland.
The Holy Synod further discussed many disciplinary matters governing the daily life of the Church and the ordained clergy. It was stressed by the fathers of the Holy Synod that the clergy of the Assyrian Church of the East, both priests, deacons and the lower clergy, ought not to neglect
their own liturgical services on Sunday, commemorations and feast days, and to participate in the liturgical services of other jurisdictions or other Churches. Since the ordained clergy have the obligation before God and the Church to serve faithfully and spiritually their own faithful, it is not acceptable to leave the churches on the appointed liturgical days and participate in services elsewhere. The respective prelate of each diocese has the duty see to it that the clergy diligently observe this directive.
In conclusion, the Holy Synod also observed the Golden Jubilee of the episcopal consecration of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos‐Patriarch. On February 11, 2012, His Holiness completed the fiftieth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopate, which took place on February 11, 1962 by the late His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, Catholicos‐Patriarch, at St. George Cathedral in Tehran, Iran. On May 27, 2012, the Golden Jubilee was auspiciously celebrated by the Diocese of Eastern USA in Chicago, Illinois at a banquet function attended by over 1400 faithful, along with numerous dignitaries, among them His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago. All the Prelates of the Assyrian Church of the East felicitated His Holiness during the Holy Synod on this auspicious occasion, and pray to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the continued well‐being of His Holiness and for many more years to come to guide and shepherd the holy Church.
Given this 7th day of June, 2012 A.D., from the Secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East.
+ Mar Awa Royel