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SOCNews page is now an archive of news published between 1996 and 2008. This section of SOR will not be updated further since several websites publish current news from the Syriac Orthodox world. Please see Links page for these websites.

Father Youssef Abdel shot dead in Baghdad

April 6, 2008

Fr. Youssef Abdel, 49, the Syriac Orthodox priest of Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in Baghdad was shot dead outside his home on Saturday by attackers who used a pistol with a silencer. He was the second senior Syriac Orthodox priest to be killed this year. Fr Youssef was shot shortly before noon as he and his wife returned home from a market in the Unity District of east Baghdad. Friends and officials at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, just around the corner from his house, said the cleric’s wife had just left the car and was walking across the driveway to the house when he was hit by three or four bullets to the chest and shoulder as he went to close the gate. The gunmen escaped.

As mourners gathered outside the gate of the priest’s home, Archbishop Severius Hawa, Primate of the Diocese of Baghdad and Basra, paid tribute to “our son, the martyr.” Speaking from the heavily barricaded cathedral, Archbishop Hawa said: “This tragedy came as a surprise to us because we did not receive any threat. He was still in his religious garments so we believe they followed him from the market to his house and killed him. The most important point is that he was killed because he was a religious man.” But the archbishop said the “hand of the devil” was directed at all Iraqi sects, Muslim and Christian alike. “Educated people, scientists, those who are working for the benefit of the country are all targeted,” he said. “If we lose one from our sect, 100 will be lost from other sects.” Mourners said that though Father Youssef appeared to have been singled out because of his distinctive black robes, many of the threats and attacks were by criminal gangs demanding money under the pretext of being Islamic fundamentalists.

Source: The New York Times

Oriental Orthodox - Catholic International Joint Commission meets at Damascus

February 4, 2008

Damascus: The fifth theological dialogue meeting of the International Joint Commission of Oriental Orthodox and Catholic Churches started at the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. The Churches, which was separated in the 5th Century, formed this dialogue commission in 2003. The meeting discussed the Churches' missionary and theological work requirement and is formulating a common declaration. In the opening speech, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch H.H. Ignatius Zakka I emphasised the importance of joint meetings of Oriental Orthodox and Catholic Churches, which are very close in matters of faith, to improve and expand bilateral relations, especially in light of the increased terrorism in the name of religion and secularism seen today. The representatives from Catholic Church, Syrian Orthodox Church including the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Armenian Orthodox Church took part in this year's meeting.

Source: SOCM-Net

Prof. Fuat Deniz murdered

December, 2007

Fuat Deniz, a senior lecturer and researcher at Sweden's Örebro University was murdered at his home by an unknown assailant. Prof. Deniz had been engaged in research on the massacres of the Syriac Orthodox faithful in Turkey at the turn of the last century.


Father Daniel Savci Kidnapped and Released

Nov 30, 2007

A Syriac Orthodox Christian priest kidnapped in south-eastern Turkey on Wednesday was released unharmed on Friday, the Anadolu news agency reported. Father Daniel Savci, 55, from the Mor Yakup monastery near the town of Midyat, was taken hostage Wednesday afternoon by unidentified people who stopped his car as he was travelling to the Mor Yakup Monastery in a village near the town of Midyat in south- eastern Turkey's Mardin province. A representative from the Mardin Governor's Office said the priest had made his way to a workplace in the town of Batman from where he had telephoned his friends. Gendarmes, military police responsible for security in rural areas, picked up the priest and after taking statements returned him to the town of Mardin. The kidnappers had at first demanded a ransom of 300,000 for the return of the priest saying that he would be murdered if the ransom was not paid.


Rabban Eugene Aydin Consecrated Metropolitan of The Netherlands

April 16, 2007

Damascus. Rabban Eugene Aydin was consecrated metropolitan of The Netherlands by H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I at Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya on April 15, 2007 with the title Mor Polycarpus. Rabban Aydin had been serving as the Patriarchal Vicar of the archdiocese following the untimely demise of the late Archbishop Mor Yulius Cicek of blessed memory. Mor Polycarpus thus becomes the second archbishop of the diocese. Mor Polycarpus has been until recently engaged in a doctoral program in Syriac Studies at the Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey and also serves on the SOR Editorial Board.

Source: Patriarchate

Urfa City Delegation visits Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Hassake, Syria

March 1, 2007

Wali of Urfa with H.E. Mor Eustathius Matta Roham

Hassake. On 28 February, a delegation from the city of Urfa, led by the wali (governor) of the Turkish city, visited the Syriac Orthodox monastery of St Mary at Tel-Wardiat, Hassake, Syria. Archbishop H.E. Mor Eustathius Matta Roham, metropolitan of Jazirah and Euphrates, welcomed the wali and the governor of Hassake to the relatively new monastery, built under his supervision and consecrated in 2000. The archbishop reported that Christians from Iraq are beginning to come to the Hassake area, and are finding shelter in the monastery. During the visit, the archbishop and his visitors enjoyed a discussion on the Syriac-Aramaic history of Urfa (historically known as Edessa in Greek and Urho in Syriac). Sanliurfa, often simply known as Urfa is a city in south-eastern Turkey. The archbishop showed the delegation a Bible in Aramaic. Urfa has a history going back 9,000 years, is said to have been blessed by Jesus himself through His letter to King Abgar, and was a powerful city for many civilizations.

Source: WCC News
For a history of Urfa (Edessa), see J.B. Segal, Edessa, The Blessed City (Gorgias Press, 2005).

Rabban Hanna Aydin and Rabban Daniel Kourieh consecrated Bishops

February 19, 2007

Damascus. On February 18, 2007, Raban Hanna Aydin was consecrated Metropolitan by name Mor Yulius by H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at the St. Peter & St. Paul Cathedral in Ma`arat Sayyidnaya, Damascus. Rabban Daniel Malak Kourieh was also consecrated Metropolitan with the name Mor Clemis.

Source: SOCM-News

Rabban Kuriakose Chaluparampil consecrated Suffragan of the Knanaya Archdiocese

February 3, 2007

Mor Gregorios Kuriakose

Damascus. Rabban Kuriakose Chaluparampil was consecrated as the suffragan bishop of the Knanaya Archdiocese in Malankara with the name Mor Gregorios Kuriakose on Friday, 2nd February 2007 at the St. Aprem Patriarchal Cathedral Church at Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria, by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Anticoch and All the East. His Holiness was assisted by the Knanaya Archbishop Mor Severios Kuriakose, Malankara Holy Episcopal Synod Secretary Mor Gregorios Joseph, Patriarchal Secretaries Mor Athanasios Geevargis, Mor Athanasios Elia Bahi and Mor Philexinos Mathias. Hundreds of priests and faithful from Knanaya Diocese also came to Damascus to participate in the consecration. H.G. Mor Gregorios Kuriakose will return to Kerala on Saturday, 10th February and will celebrate Holy Qurbana at Kottayam Valiya Palli on Sunday, 11th February. A public reception will follow at Chingavanam in the afternoon.

Source: SOCM-News

Jacobite Prelates Offer Incense at the Tomb of St. Athanasius Paulose

January 27, 2007

After 3 Decades

H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I accompanied by metropolitans, priests and thousands of faithful of the Jacobite Church, made history by offering incense at the tombs of St. Athanasius Paulose and other departed metropolitans in the Thrikkunnath church, on Thursday, 26 January 2007—the dukhrono (memorial day) of St. Athanasius Paulose, late Malankara Metropolitan, after three decades of tyrst with the illegitimate occupants of the Seminary. The faithful and a priest of the Church were allowed to offer incense last year. Hundreds of faithful of the Church reached Aluva on foot from Akaparambu and Parur churches on Thursday evening and were joined by the members of Thrikkunnath St Mary’s parish.

A strong police contingent was deployed at the seminary on Thursday. The District Collector, Mohammed Hanish, and Superintendent of Police, M. Wahab, held discussions with the representatives of both factions separately to settle the issue, but in vain. The rival faction Catholicos-designate Poulose Mar Milithios and officials of their Church were told by authorities that the devotees could not be prevented from offering prayers at the tombs. A group of their followers shouted slogans against Catholicos Thomas I and metropolitans of Jacobite Church for entering the restricted area. However, the faithful were able to enter the tombs and offer prayers with no untoward incident. The Catholicos and faithful expressed their gratitude to the State Government.

Source: Malankara Voice

Rabban Mathias Nayis Consecrated Metropolitan

January 8, 2007

Damascus. V. Rev. Rabban Mathias Nayis, Principal of the Mor Aphrem Theological Seminary, was consecrated metropolitan with the name Philexinos by the Patriarch H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at Ma'arrat Saidnaya on 7 January 2007. The metropolitan will administer the Seminary and will be a second assistant to His Holiness. For photos, see

Source: The Patriarchate

Rabban Elias Kozhiparambath Consecrated Metropolitan

January 2, 2007

Puthenkurishu. Catholicos H.B. Mor Baselios Thomas I consecrated Rabban Elias Kozhiparambath Metropolitan with the name Athanasius at the St. Athanasius Cathedral, Puthenkurishu on Monday, 1 January 2007. His Beatitude was assisted by the Metropolitans of the Malankara Church including the Patriarchal Assistant for Indian Affairs, H.G. Mor Athanasius Geevargis, H.G. Mor Severios Abraham, H.G. Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Dionysius Geevarghese, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Severios Kuriakose, Mor Theodosius Mathews, Mor Aphrem Mathews, Mor Eusebius Kuriakose, Mor Koorilose Geevarghese and Mor Chrysostmos Markose. H.G. Mor Athanasius Elias was appointed as the Metropolitan in charge of the Guardian Society for the Antiochean Faith (Antiokya Vishwasa Samrakshana Samithy). The Metropolitan will also be the assistant to the Catholicos and the Vicar of St. Athanasius Cathedral at Puthenkurishu Patriarchal center. The Metropolitan will proceed to Damascus to submit his Shalmootho to the Patriarch and receive the Statikon from His Holiness on January 7.

Source: SOCMNet News

St. Athanasius Cathedral Consecrated at Puthenkurishu

December 27, 2006

Puthenkurishu. The cathedral at the Patriarchal Centre and seat of the Catholicos was consecrated in the name of St. Athanasius Paulose on December 26th, 2006 by Catholicos H.B. Baselios Thomas I assisted by metropolitans of the Malankara Church. The church has a capacity of a 1000. The foundation stone for the church was blessed on 24 September 2004 by the Patriarch H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I and was laid on 25 January 2005 by the Catholicos H.B. Mor Baselios Thomas I.

Source: Malankara Voice

Rabban Malki Ürek consecrated Metropolitan of Adiyaman

December 12, 2006

Mor Gregorius Malki Urek

Patriarch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated V. Rev. Rabban Malke Ürek as Metropolitan with the name "Gregorios" for the Diocese of Adiyaman in southern Turkey at Kurkmo Dayro (Deir Za`faran) on December 10, 2006. It is after several decades that a bishop has been consecrated by a Patriarch at the erstwhile seat of the Patriarchate. The historic diocese of Adiyaman had remained vacant for many decades. The resurgence of Syriac Christianity in the area is attributed to Rabban Malke's tireless efforts. The archdiocese will include the cities of Harput, Elaziz, Gerger, Malatya, and Edessa.

Source: The Patriarchate
Photos: SyrianChurch.Org

Rabban Touma Daweed Dakama consecrated Patriarchal Vicar of United Kingdom

December 4, 2006

Mor Athanasius Touma

Damascus. Patriarch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated V. Rev. Rabban Toma Dawod Dakama as Metropolitan, with the name Athanasius. His Eminence will be the first Patriarchal Vicar of the United Kingdom at the Patriarchal Cathedral at Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya on December 3, 2006 and will have his seat in London. Their Eminences Mor Severius Jamil Hawa of Bagdad, Mor Gregorius Shemoun Saleeba of Mosul, Mor Theophilose George Saleeba of Mount Lebanon, Mor Eustathius Matta Roham of Jazirah & Euphrates, Mor Severius Malke Mourad of Jordan & Jerusalem, Mor Selwanos Pathros Nehmeh of Homs & Hama, Mor Athanasios Geevargis the Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi the Patriarchal Assistant and Mor Themotheos Mousa Al Shamani of Mor Matta Monastery, Iraq, attended and assisted His Holiness at this blessed consecration ceremony. It was also attended by a large gathering of Rabbans (Monks), Priests, Deacons, Nuns, the Syrian Orthodox Faithful and other distinguished guests from Syria, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Lebanon and Europe.

Source: The Patriarchate

Oriental Orthodox Heads Meet

November 25, 2006

Cairo. H.H. Pope Schenouda II, Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church and H. H. Patriarch Zakka Iwas, Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church held their annual meeting from November 22-24, 2006, at the St. Mark Center, Nasr City, Cairo. H.H. Catholicos Aram I, Head of the Armenian Orthodox Church canceled his scheduled trip to Egypt for the meeting due to the political turmoil in Lebanon.

Qashisho Paulos Eskander Beheaded in Mosul

October 13, 2006

Mosul. Fr Paulos Eskandar, vicar of Mosul's St Ephrem Syriac Orthodox Church was abducted on October 9th by an unknown Islamic militant group and his decapitated body was discovered later on October 11th. The clergyman's relatives confirmed that his captors had demanded payment of US$ 350,000 in ransom. The kidnapping was ostensibly in protest of Pope Benedict's remarks at Regensburg on September 12, 2006, about Islam. The parish was required to apologize for the Pope's remarks which they complied with. However, their pleas for the release of the priest were rejected. Father Eskander's decapitated body was found on Wednesday in Mosul's Muharaibin neighbourhood. His arms showed signs of torture. About 500 people attended the funeral for Fr Eskander on Friday, October 13. The Holy Synod of the Church which was in session from 9-13 October at Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya condemned the ghastly murder of Fr. Eskandar and called upon those in positions of authority to enable the citizens of Iraq resume their normal life in their historic homeland in unity and peace.

Iraq's highest Sunni religious authority, the Ulema Council, called the priest's death "a cowardly murder". In a press release, they said that the Orthodox priest was well known for "his nationalist views and opposition to the occupation". "The Ulema Council," the statement said, "condemns this cowardly killing and will not forget those who are behind this crime, committed by people who want to deprive the country of every religious and national symbol that can hold Iraq together by trying to start a religious war between sons of the same nation".

Meanwhile, Fr Adris Hanna, an Iraqi priest who fled to Sweden, published a letter describing what amounts to a full blown campaign of terror against Christians in Iraq. Based on accounts from Christians still living in the country, Fr Adris Hanna warns that “Christians are living a terrified life in Mosul and Baghdad. Several priests have been kidnapped, girls are being raped and murdered, and a couple of days ago a fourteen-year-old boy was crucified in the Christian neighbourhood of Albasra.”


Mor Dioscoros Luka Sha`ya enters eternal rest

September 23, 2006

Mor Dioscoros Luka Sha`ya

Mor Dioscoros Luka Sha`ya, the senior Metropolitan of the Mor Mattai Dayro and Archbishopric of Bartellah, Ninawa, entered into eternal rest on 22 September 2006 evening. The last rites for the late Archbishop were held at the Mor Mattai Dayro, Iraq, where he was interred.

Mor Dioscoros was born in 10 February 1929 and was consecrated as metropolitan on 01 December 1963 by late Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III.

Photos of the funeral:


Midyat Christians Terrorized by Turkish Police Officer

September 1, 2006

Midyat, Turkey. On August 30th, 2006 an unknown man threw a grenade into the house of Mr. Gabro Seven in Midyat, south-eastern Turkey. Fortunately the family was not home at the time. According to reliable sources, a police officer named Aytac Tefek is behind what happened and that Tefek has been responsible for other such operations and pressure tactics aimed to force the Syriac Christians in the area to leave.

Two days earlier another tragic incident took place. Mr. Issa Dogan, living in Australia, and Yusuf Ay were assaulted and beaten up by some Muslim extremists in the centre of Midyat. An individual from the Cimmo family tried to blackmail Mr. Dogan into giving him $7000 dollars. When he refused, 15-20 people surrounded them and started to beat them up in front of a lot of people, who unfortunately did not dare to interfere or help them. In 2002 Faulus and Afram Haidari were severely beaten up near the city hall of Midyat when they tried to submit a complaint against the Cimmo family. The Cimmos had occupied their property and lands, the Haidari family was given the choice to either leave or to be killed.

On July 23rd, 2005, Mr. Zeki Un, a Swedish Syriac Christian, and his son David were shot in their legs by Kahraman Yildiz, a senior member of the ruling Turkish party AKP. None of these perpetrators were arrested or subjected to any legal procedures. This gives a green light to any aggressors to commit more horrible actions enabling them to reach their goals of controlling the Assyrian lands and properties in the region. There are already other villages in Tur Abdin which have been confiscated by the Turkish authorities and Muslim extremists who tend to use violence against those who try to return the properties to their rightful owners. It is extremely important to remind the European countries that while Turkey is trying to negotiate its way into the European Union, the conditions for the Syriac and other Christian minorities in Turkey have not improved in any way. And that Turkey’s empty promises throughout its history makes every one aware of the danger that Turkey is following its old path. It is worth noting that many of the Syriac Christians who had fled Turkey for Europe during the 1960’s and 1970’s because of persecution have begun to return to their towns and villages but they are facing many dangers, especially to their security.

Source: Simon Barmano <;
President of the Assyrian National Association of Sweden

Patriarch lays the foundation stone for the first Syriac Orthodox Church in Jordan

August 28, 2006

Amman. His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas laid the foundation stone for the first Syriac Orthodox Church in Jordan on Saturday, August 26th. The Church will be located on a plot of 4000 square meters in the area of Maghtas on the East bank of the Jordan River donated by the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom to the Syriac Orthodox Church. On 28 August, Royal Court Chief Salem Turk representing His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, met His Holiness in Amman, Jordan. During the meeting Mr. Turk expressed King Abdullah's appreciation for the Patriarch's visit to Jordan and his efforts to promote tolerance, understanding and cooperation amongst nations. Patriarch Ignatius paid tribute to King Abdullah's policy and efforts to realize peace and stability in the Middle East. He also commended the key role of the Hashemites over the years to safeguard and defend the holy places.

Source: Zinda Magazine

Mor Chrysostomos Markose consecrated Assistant Bishop foofr EAE

July 14, 2006

Damascus: His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated Very Rev. Ramban Markose Pallath as Metropolitan with the name, "Mor Chrysostomos" during Holy Qurbono at the Mor Aphrem Chapel of the St. Aphrem the Syrian Monastery, Ma`arrat Seydnaya, Syria. His Beatitude Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I of India and Their Graces Metropolitans Mor Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Joseph the Secretary of the Holy Regional Episcopal Synod in India, Mor Athanasios Geevargis the Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs, Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi the Patriarchal Assistant, Mor Theodosios Mathews of Kollam, Mor Aphrem Mathews of the High Range Region of Ankamaly, Mor Osthatheos Pathros of the Greater India Archdiocese (Outside Kerala), Mor Eusebios Kuriakose of Thrissur and Mor Coorilos Geevarghese of Niranam assisted His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East in this blessed consecration service. After the liturgy, His Holiness granted Sustatikons to the newly consecrated bishops including the five bishops consecrated at N. Parur on July 3, 2006.

For the photos, visit S

Source: Metropolitan Athanasios Geevargis, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs

Rev. Fr. Jacob Markose of the EAE tonsured Rabban (Monk)

July 12, 2006

On Wednesday, 12th July 06, Their Graces Mor Theodosios Mathews, Mor Aphrem Mathews and Mor Osthatheos Pathros concelebrated the Holy Qurbono at the St. Aphrem Chapel of the St. Aphrem the Syrian Monastery in Ma'arrat Seydnaya, Damascus, Syria. During the Holy Qurbono, as authorised by His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Catholicos of India His Beatitude Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I tonsured Rev. Fr. Jacob Markose of the Evangelistic Association of the East a Rabban (Monk) with the name "Markose". Their Graces Metropolitans Mor Dionysius Behnam Jajawi, Mor Athanasios Geevargis, Mor Theodosios Mathews, Mor Aphrem Mathews, Mor Osthatheos Pathros Mor Eusebios Kuriakose and Mor Coorilos Geevarghese assisted His Beatitude in the liturgy. Very Rev. Raban Markose will be consecrated a Metropolitan by His Holiness the Patriarch on Friday, July 14, 2006. His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas I and Their Graces the Metropolitans from India and the Middle East countries will assist His Holiness in the consecration service.

For the photos, visit SOCMNet

Source: Metropolitan Athanasios Geevargis, Patriarchal Vicar for Indian Affairs

Five Bishops Consecrated by H.B. Catholicos Baselios Thomas I

July 3, 2006

Consecration at N. Parur

N. Parur, Kerala: H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I consecrated five Metropolitans at St. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church here on Monday on the occasion of the 325th dukhrono of St. Mor Gregorius `Abd al-Jaleel. Rabban Micah (Fr. Mathew P George) was consecrated as Mor Thevodosius Mathews for the Kollam diocese. Rabban Nahum (Fr. James Chitteth) was consecrated Mor Aphrem Mathews for the High Range Diocese. Rabban Haggai (Fr. Ekby Chacko), was consecrated Mor Osthatheos Pathros for the Delhi diocese of Greater India. Rabban Malachi (Fr. Kuriakose George) was consecrated Mor Eusebios Kuriakose for the Thrissur diocese. Rabban Samuel (Fr. George Mathew Nalunnakkal) was consecrated Mor Coorilos Geevarghese for Niranam diocese. Metropolitans Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Themotheos Thomas, Mor Philexenos Yuhanon, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Severios Kuriakose, Mor Yulius Kuriakos, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Dionysius Geevarghese and Mor Militheos Yuhanon were the co-celebrants at the consecration ceremony. Hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of faithful also took part in the ceremony.

The five hour ceremony started at 8:30 am. The Patriarchal Bull read by Mor Yulius Kuriakose permitting the Catholicos to consecrate five bishops said that this was a landmark occasion in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Malankara. The bishop-elects with their heads enveiled in shushefos were escorted to the altar where they announced their unconditional faith in the Syrian Orthodox Church, Holy Patriarch Zakka I Iwas and Catholicos Thomas I and signed the canonical oath of allegiance, the shalmootho, which were handed over to the Catholicos to be submitted to the Patriarch. The Catholicos presented the newly-consecrated bishops with the Episcopal vestments, staff, cross and chain. The enthronement ceremonies followed with priests representing various dioceses lifting the bishops seated on chairs shouting 'Oxios' as a mark of respect and recognition. The Catholicos and the the newly consecrated metropolitans offered prayers of incense at the tomb of St. Gregorios `Abd al Jaleel. Tens of thousands of faithful later partook of the holy feast after the consecration ceremony.

The Catholicos and the newly consecrated bishops proceeded to Damascus for an audience with His Holiness the Patriarch and to submit their oaths of allegiance.

Source: Malankara Voice

Turkey attaches Syriac Orthodox community's ancestral lands

March 8, 2006

With the promise of improving conditions in S.E. Turkey, the Syriac Orthodox who lived in the region for centuries and in forced exile for several decades began to return at the turn of this century. Their hopes of re-establishing themselves in their ancestral home are beginning to sour with enormous bureaucratic hurdles preventing them from regaining their properties. The vast majority of the community had been forced to migrate to Europe in the 1970s due to the deplorable human rights situation in Turkey. On their return, they found their fallow lands declared forest land and confiscated by the Turkish forest department known as the Hazine. To make matters worse, in villages such as Enhil (the first village in Tur `Abdin to register properties at the survey office), such property has been put up by the government for sale to private parties. The government actions are reminiscent of the events following the Sayfo (genocide of Syriac Christians at the turn of the 20th century) when properties of the Syriac Christians were confiscated and sold to other Turks. Turkey aspires to join the European Union; however, its policies towards minorities continue to be oppressive.

Source: EasternStar News Agency, Stockholm

Ninth Assembly of WCC held in Brazil

February 15, 2006

The plenary session of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, the first to be held in Latin America, was opened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on February 14th by the WCC Moderator Catholicos Aram I. A record number of young people attended the event. Delegates were greeted by Bishop Adriel de Souza Maia on behalf of Brazilian churches, Bishop Julio Holguin, on behalf of Latin American churches, the vice-mayor of Porto Alegre, Eliseu Santos, and by the Honourable Germano Rigotto, governor of Rio Grande Sul. Church leaders unable to be present at the opening event were read at the Assembly; this included the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I and the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The message of Pope Benedict XVI was read by Cardinal Walter Kaspar. Thirty-one new member churches were received into the WCC. The Syrian Orthodox Church is represented by a delegation that includes H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim (Eastern USA)--a member of the Central and Executive Committees of WCC, H.E. Mor George Saliba Theophilus (Lebanon), H.E. Mor Themotheose Thomas (Kottayam), H.E. Mor Gregoriose Joseph (Kochi), H.E. Mor Yousef Abd. Alahda Matti (Argentina), H.E. Mor Severius Malki Marad (Jerusalem), H.E. Mor Osthathios Matta Rohom (Jezirah), Fr. George Mathew Nalunnakkal (India)--Vice Moderator of WCC´s Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, Mr. Theodore B.T. Issa (Australia), Ms. Faten Hanna Al-Kass (Syria), and Ms. Alya Basheer (USA). H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, one of the Presidents of the Council, is not attending the Assembly for health reasons. The session will conclude on February 23rd. More articles and free photos at

Source: Rev. George Mathew Nalunnakkal

Pilgrims celebrate the Feast of Patriarch St Elias IIIrd

February 13, 2006

Manjinikkara: Thousands of faithful celebrated the 74th dukhrono (memorial feast) at the tomb of late Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, St Elias III at Mor Ignatius Dayro Church in Manjanikkara on Sunday. The believers from many distant places undertook their pilgrimage procession to the Saint's tomb by foot, a custom that dates back to the 40th day of demise of the late Patriarch in 1932. On February 12th, the Metropolitans and priests of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church including Mor Yulios Kuriakose, Mor Dionysius Gewargis and Fr Samson Varghese gave a rousing reception to the pilgrimage processions at the nearby Omalloor Cross in the afternoon before being escorted to the Manjanikkara Dayro. The Patriarchal delegate and the Abbot Metropolitan Mor Philexinos Sleeba Ozmen of the Kurkmo Dayro in Mardin, was the chief guest at the public meeting that followed later in the afternoon and H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I presided over the meeting. Mor Philexinos, who did his D.Phil. in Syriac Studies at Oxford University, had arrived in Malankara with a delegation of Syriac Orthodox faithful from the Middle East and Germany. On the feast day, February 13th, H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I was the chief celebrant at the divine liturgy offered at dawn in the Dayro Church. The Patriarchal delegate Mor Philexinos offered the divine liturgy at 8.30 a.m. The feast celebrations came to a close with a festive procession.

Source: Malankara Voice

Mor Severus Sowmy consecrated bishop of Belgium and France

February 12, 2006

Mor Severus Sowmy

H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated Very Rev. Rabban Hazail Sowmy as the metropolitan of Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese of Belgium and France at the Monastery of St. Aphrem the Syrian, in Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria on 12 February 2006. Rabban Hazail Sowmi assumed the name "Mor Severus". Their Eminences Mor Dioscorus Benyamin Atas (Patriarchal-Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Sweden), Mor Julis Abdulahad G. Shabo (Bishop of Sweden & Scandinavia), Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan (Patriarchal Vicariate of Western USA),Mor Ostatheos Matta Rohem (Bishop of Jazira & Euphrates), Mor Severus Malki Mourad (Patriarchal-Vicariate for Jerusalem & Jordan), Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Patriarchal Assistant), Mor Yusephinos Paulos (Patriarchal Vicariate of Zahle & Beqa) assisted His Holiness in the consecration ceremonies.

Source: SOCM

New bishopric for the Kandanad diocese consecrated

January 15, 2006

Bishopric at Kadakkanad

The new diocesan headquarters and bishopric for the Kandanad diocese at Kadakkanad, near Kadamattom, was consecrated by HB Catholicos Baselius Thomas I on January 15th. The building has been named after late Catholicos Baselius Paulose II, who was also the bishop of Kandanad diocese. The 130th anniversary of the diocese was also celebrated. The celebrations were attended by a large gathering of faithful. The new headquarters became necessary when the Church lost control over the former diocesan headquarters at Muvattupuzha which also served as the Catholicate from 1975 to 1996 upon the defection of the bishop Thomas Mar Athanasius who succeeded late Catholicos Paulose II.

Source: Malankara Voice
Photos of the Consecration event

Mor Timotheos Mousa Shamani consecrated Bishop of Dayro d-Mor Mattay

December 16, 2005

His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch, consecrated Rabban Mousa Abdulahad Aziz Shamani as Archbishop for the monastery of Mor Mattay in Iraq on Friday, 16th December 2005 at Ma'arat Saidnaya, Syria. The new Archbishop was given the name Mor Timotheos. Mor Timotheos Mousa Abdulahad Shamani was born in 1966, in Mosul, Iraq. In 1992 he graduated from the Theological Seminary in Mosul, and in 1996 obtained a licentiate in Theology from the Theological Seminary of Athena, Greece. In the same year he became a monk at St. Ephrem seminary in Ma'arat Saidnaya.

Source: SOCM-Forum

H.E. Mor Yulius Yeshu` Çiçek enters eternal rest

November 5, 2005

Funeral of Mor Yulius Çiçek

Final Rites for H.E. Mor Yulius Çiçek at the Cathedral of Virgin Mary, The Netherlands.

The first metropolitan of the Syriac Orthodox Diocese of Central Europe His Eminence Mor Yulius Yeshu` Çiçek, entered into eternal rest on Oct 29, 2005, at Dusseldorf, Germany. The archbishop was 64. The mortal remains of His Eminence were brought to the monastery of St. Ephrem the Syrian in Glane, Losser, The Netherlands, where they were interred in the tomb for bishops below the sanctuary of the church of The Holy Virgin. The final rites for the departed archbishop were officiated by Patriarch His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas assisted by several bishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church from the Middle East, Europe, Americas and India. The funeral was attended by over 15,000 Syriac Orthodox faithful.

The late archbishop was the first appointed to shepherd the church in Europe in 1979 by late Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III and dedicated all his energies in establishing a firm foundation for the Church in Europe. Due to his efforts, the Church is well established in Central Europe today with three large monasteries in Europe—at Glane, near Enschede in the Netherlands, in Arth, Switzerland, and in Warburg, Germany. Several parishes were formed throughout Europe over 50 in Germany and several others in the Netherlands, in Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, England and France, among others. Mor Yulius made very significant scholarly contributions to the Church through the Bar Hebraeus Publishing House at Losser which published about 115 books related to the Syriac Orthodox liturgy, Bible, history, etc., in Syriac and in European languages, as well as periodicals such as the "Kolo Suryoyo". His Eminence was also an eminent calligrapher who continued the ancient Syriac Orthodox tradition of liturgical manuscript production as a monastic vocation. Mor Yulius Çiçek's contributions were not limited to Europe; he expressed his love for the Church in Malankara in various ways, most notably through his contributions in founding the Theological Seminary of the Church that now flourishes in Udayagiri.

Full Story: Obituary (Shroro: SOC Digest)
Related News: Condolences of The Mayor of Losser (Shroro: SOC Digest)
Photos: Mor Ephrem Monastery Archive · More Photos
Video: Dutch TV - rtv oost

Patriarch H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I celebrates silver jubilee of consecration

September 14, 2005

Silver Jubilee of HH Mor Ignatius Zakka I

His Holiness with the Maphryono and Metropolitans at the Jubilee Celebrations.

Damascus. His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas celebrated the silver jubilee of consecration as Patriarch of Antioch and All the East on Sep 14, 1980, in a week long event at the Patriarchal monastery. Four main events took place at the Saint Aphrem Syrian Orthodox Monastery in Ma`arrat Saydnaya, Damascus, including the Jubilee Day on September 14, 2005. The highlights of the day included Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Holiness, a concert organized by the International Syrian Orthodox Scouts' Orchestra, a pilgrimage from St. Mary's Church in Saydnaya to St. Aphrem Monastery and a Scouts' parade.

Release of Festschrift
His Holiness releases Jubilee Festschrift

Heads of Churches and officials from the region attended the Jubilee Day. Among them were H.H. Pope Schenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church, H.H. Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of the Rum Orthodox Church and the Maphryono (Catholicos) of India, Mor Baselius Thomas I. A delegation from the Catholicosate of Cilicia, other church representatives, Muslim religious leaders, Government officials, ambassadors, metropolitans, clergy and members of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Middle East, Europe, USA and India attended the celebration. H.H. Pope Schenouda gave an overview of the life and achievements of H.H. Patriarch Zakka. Festivities included a Youth Day, a Day for exhibitions, Charity Bazaar and the Church Choir Concert, and a final Concert by the St. Aphrem Patriarchal Choir. A festschrift in honor of His Holiness titled ktheeboth hago edited by V. Rev. Kuriakose Moolayil and a book on His Holiness' apostolic visit to India by Santhosh John were released during the celebrations.

The year-long jubilee celebrations had commenced in September 2004 with the apostolic visit of His Holiness to the Malankara Church in Kerala, India.

Source: Full Story and Photographs (

H.G. Mor Koorilose Markose Laid to Rest

June 1, 2005

H.G. Mor Koorilos Markose, 59, the Metropolitan of Niranam and Trivandrum dioceses of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church passed away at 9.45 am IST on May 30, 2005. He was the former head of the Dept. of Syriac at the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Mulanthuruthy. He was suffering from lung related disease. His mortal remains were laid to rest at the St. Mary’s Church, Pangada, Kottayam after burial rites officiated by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I.

The late Metropolitan was born in the Ramanthara family of Nattassery, Kottayam on 6th October 1946. He completed his B.A Degree from C.M.S College, Kottayam and G.S.T from M.D.Seminary, Kottayam. Late Mor Gregorios Gewargis ordained him priest. Fr. R.V. Markose served as the vicar of the churches in Kurichy, Pangada, Bahrain, Roorkela and Bhilai. He was also the Chief Editor of the Journal of the Kottayam Diocese. He was ordained Rabban on 6th August 2000 at the St. George Simhasana Church, Perumpally, by H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas (later Catholicos). H.H the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated him Metropolitan, at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Ma'arat Saydnaya, Damascus, Syria on 14th January 2001, along with Mor Ivanios Mathews, the Metropolitan of the diocese of Kandanad. Numerous priests of the Malankara Church received their Syriac instruction from the late metropolitan.


Holy Qurbono in Malankara Syrian Orthodox Churches on Holy Friday 2005

February 22, 2005

The Holy Friday according to the Gregorian calendar falls on March 25th in 2005, the same day the Church celebrates suboro, the feast of the annunciation to the Virgin Mary. According the Hudayo canon, "That day is the basis of all moronoyo feasts (feasts of the Lord)." Chapter V, 1:5. It is mandatory that the Holy Qurbono be offered on that day. The Holy Synod of the Malankara Church has decided that the Holy Qurbono should be offered in all Malankara parishes on Holy Friday of 2005 prior to 8 am. The decision was announced by the Synod Secretary, Mor Gregorius Joseph. The Episcopal Synod cited the guidelines established in the Encyclical No 464 (dt. 24 Mithunam 1938) by the late Patriarch Mor Aphrem I Barsoum, which directs that the Holy Qurbono be offered prior to the Hasho services of the Holy Friday when it falls on March 25th. The last such instance was on April 7, 1950 when the Malankara Church followed the Julian calendar. The Syriac Orthodox Church in the Near East and its diaspora observes the Holy week according to the Julian calendar and hence does not have a similar circumstance.

H.E. Mor Malatius Barnaba Passed Away

November 18, 2004

H.E. Mor Malatius Barnaba (87), retired Archbishop of Homs and Hama entered into eternal rest.

Source: Malankara Voice

Insurgents bomb Syriac Orthodox Church in Baghdad

November 9, 2004

Priests surveying
St. Mattay

Masked men detonated a bomb near a Syriac Orthodox church in southern Baghdad on Monday, and police at the scene said three people were killed and 34 wounded. A guard at the St. Bahnam and St. Mattay Syriac Orthodox Church in the capital's Doura neighborhood said the militants drove up in a pickup truck. "They were all armed," said Khalaf Enad. "They quickly poured out of the car, pointed their weapons at me and said 'Get in.' They opened fire for over a minute and then I heard a big explosion." The blast created a crater over 12 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Church deacon Matti Qeryaqos, who lives nearby, said the explosion shattered church windows and blew the doors off their hinges, collapsing the outer wall. He said there was no service at the church at the time of the blast, and that the dead and wounded were mostly neighbors. Mohammed Aziz said strong explosions rocked the area. "I felt my house shaking three times and then saw the fire set in the church." Police sealed off the area and fired bullets in the air to disperse the crowd, according to another witness, Lyon Emad Elias, whose home faces the church.

Source: Associated Press

Prince of Wales Visits Deir Za`faran

October 26, 2004

Prince Charles visited the 7000 year old city of Mardin in S.E. Turkey and visited the 5th century Syriac Orthodox Kirklar Church and the erstwhile seat of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch at Deir ez-Za`faran (Kurkmo Dayro). He was received at the Saffron monastery by the H.E. Archbishop Samuel Ozmen of the monastery and H.E. Archbishop Mor Timotheos Samuel Atkas of Mor Gabriel monastery in Midyat. The archbishops presented a Holy Bible in Syriac to the Prince. Prince Charles also visited the Kasimiye Madrasah, a 535-year-old Muslim religious school, and the 690-year-old Latifiye mosque.

Source: SOL Newsticker

H.B. Catholicos Baselius Thomas I given a rousing welcome in Germany

October 26, 2004

The Catholicos of India H.B. Baselios Thomas I arrived in Munich for a visit to the European parishes of the Syriac Orthodox Church on October 23. He was welcomed at the apron of the Munich Airport by the Mayor of the city of Munich himself and was escorted through the VVIP exit. He left for the City of Göppingen with the escort of hundreds of cars and police vehicles and was accorded a state of honour welcome by the city authorities. Thousands of Syrian Orthodox believers from different parishes in the Göppingen area attended the Holy Qurbono celebrated by the Maphryono on October 24. The Catholicos proceeded to meet state authorities in Berlin and to offer liturgy. H.B. proceeded to visit several other cities in Germany where he was received by Syriac Orthodox faithful from the 52 parishes in the country predominantly from the Near Eastern diaspora.

The Catholicos will proceed to Switzerland and inaugurate the aniversary celebrations of the St. Mary's Malankara Church in Zurich and Basel on November 7. From November 10-15, he will be in Vienna as the guest of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vienna and the Pro-Oriente which he will address on November 12. He will attend a Holy Mass at the central Cathedral of Vienna "Stephansdom" and join a luncheon hosted in his honour by the Vienna Archbishop. On November 13, he will lead the ecumenical convention conducted at the St. Mary's Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and offer Holy Qurbono on November 14. On November 20 H.B. will inaugurate a Malankara parish in Germany at Herne.

His Beatitude is being accompanied by H.G. Dr. Kuriakose Mor Theophileos, the Metropolitan of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox European Diocese and V. Rev. Dr. Adai Jacob Corepiscopa, principal of the M.S.O.T. Seminary. Photographs (Malankara Voice).

Source: Fr. Biji Chirathilattu, Vicar, St. Mary's Church, Vienna

The Fourth United Nations Orthodox Prayer Service

October 12, 2004

H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem

On Tuesday, October 12, 2004, the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in America (SCOOCH) held their fourth annual United Nations Orthodox Prayer Service at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral, New York City, NY. The theme of the prayer service was overcoming violence in the world. The liturgy was celebrated in the Syriac Orthodox tradition lead by H.E. Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim. To view pictures from this event please click here (External Site hosted by Orthodox Church of America).

Patriarch's Apostolic Visit 2004 Links

Detailed reports of His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I Iwas' third apostolic visit to Malankara are available at (Click on the Apostolic Visit menu item to get news on the highlights of the visit.)

    H.H. the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East arrives in Kerala
    The Patriarch addresses Press conference
    Silver Jubilee of the Patriarchal enthronement begins
    The Patriarch offers prayers at Mor Clemis’ tomb
    Rousing reception to the Patriarch at Manjanikara
    The book titled 'The Syrian Orthodox Church Calendar' released by His Holiness
    The Holy Episcopal synod presided by the Patriarch at Karingachira
    Karingachira St. George Jacobite Syrian church declared Cathedral
    The new Church Headquarters at Puthencuriz Consecrated
    Holy Myron Consecrated at Kothamangalam Marthoman Church
    Cathedral status for the Manarcad St. Mary's church
    St. Mary's Soonoro church at Cochin elevated as the Patriarchal Cathedral
    Mulanthuruthy church hosts the 'Jacobite Syrian Christian Association' after 128 years (The 2nd Mulanthuruthy Synod)
    H.H. the Patriarch given a rousing welcome at New Delhi
  • SEPTEMBER 29, 30
    H.H. the Patriarch consecrated the St. Peters' Patriarchal Cathedral in New Delhi; Met the President of India, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and UPA Chairperson: Left for Damascus via Sharjah on 1st October

Jubilee Year Celebrations Begin

September 21, 2004

The jubilee year celebrations of the consecration of H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I on the apostolic throne of St. Peter at Antioch were inaugurated by the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at a public gathering attended by over 200,000 who had congregated from all parts of the Kerala state at the Marine Drive in Ernakulam. Archbishops and heads of sister churches including Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil of the Syro Malabar, Philipos Mar Chrysostom of the Marthoma Church, Bishop K.J. Samuel of CSI, and several political leaders including ministers, MPs, and MLAs, and leaders of other communities addressed the gathering and welcomed the supreme head of the Syriac Orthodox Church. In his address, the Patriarch exhorted the gathering to share the Gospel with the world through a life that upholds its ideals. His Holiness stressed the Church's tradition of existing in peace with other communities and reminded all of the Church's duty to serve the poor and oppressed. The Patriarch stated that it was only with mixed emotions that he could think of the Church in Malankara; on the one hand the growth of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church is laudable but at the same the separation of the breakaway Indian Orthodox Church continues to cause much pain. His Holiness recalled the failed efforts to effect peace and unity in the church over seven years following the verdict of the Supreme Court in 1995. It was only when it was clear that the impasse could not be broken that His Holiness consecrated H.B. Catholicos Thomas I. The multitudes gathered together today strengthens his conviction about the rectitude of that decision, the Patriarch added.

Text of His Holiness Patriarch's Speech at Marine Drive (September 21, 2004)

Source: Various Dailies

H.H. Patriarch Arrives in Malankara

September 20, 2004

His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I arrived at the Nedumbassery airport by Emirates Air flight EK-350 at 9 am on Monday September 20, 2004. Though no public reception was organized, thousands of faithful gathered at the airport to give a hearty welcome to His Holiness on his arrival in Malankara for his third apostolic visit. His Holiness, accompanied by his secretary Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi, Mor Milithos Malke of Australia, Mor Silvanos Pathros of Homs, monks and a nun, was received by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I, bishops, monks, priests, political leaders, district officials and airport authorities. The Patriarch revered through the ages by different communities in Kerala was greeted by thousands from all walks of life who gathered on either side of decorated streets to receive his blessings.

At a press conference at the Hotel Le Meridien, the Patriarch expressed his disappointment in his inability to break the impasse over the unfortunate schism in the church despite much effort during seven long years. Having been spurned in several attempts for establishing unity with the break away faction of the church, His Holiness said that he does not entertain much hope for a rapproachment but said that he is open to dialogue for establishing peace and mutual acceptance as sister churches in an ecumenical spirit. His Holiness expressed his anguish in the attempts including a legal challenge to prevent his apostolic visit to India.

The High Court of Kerala rejected a petition seeking to restrain His Holiness from officiating in religious ceremonies during his visit. Meanwhile the Indian Orthodox Church leadership's attempt to mobilize support internally to chastize the Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a member of their church who refused to engage in partisan opposition to the Patriarch's visit, was met with resistance and revealed conflict within their ranks.

Source: Malayalam Dailies

Fr. Benyamin Mulerickal ordained as Rabban

September 5, 2004

Tripunithura. Fr Benyamin Yakob Mulerickal, vicar of Nadamel St Mary’s Church, was tonsured a monk at a ceremony held at the church premises by Mor Yulios Kuriakose, First Secretary to H.H. the Patriarch and Mor Gregorius Joseph, the Synod Secretary. The ordination was attended by Mor Athanasios Gewargis, Mor Dioscoros Kuriakose, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Fr John Vathiamparambil among others. Rabban Benyamin belongs to St. Mary's Church, Cherai. He is expected to become the abbot of the Piramadom Dayro.

Source: New Indian Express, September 6, 2004

Mor Athanasius Paulose canonized Saint

August 21, 2004

The late Mor Athanasius Paulose (1869-1953), Malankara Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church, known as the 'Valiya Thirumeni of Aluva,' was canonized a saint by H.H. Patriarch, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I. He is the second native of Malankara to be raised to sainthood after Mor Gregorios Gewargis Chathuruthil (Parumala Thirumeni).

The Patriarchal encyclical was read at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus and was also read in Malankara at the Akaparambu Mor Sabor-Mor Aphroth Church, the home parish of the late metropolitan, during the liturgy offered by the Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I. H.H. the Patriarch will lay the foundation stone for the first church in the name of the saint during the upcoming apostolic visit to Malankara in September.

Source: Malankara Voice

St. Mary's Church Consecrated in Montfermeil, France

July 4, 2004

St. Mary's, Montfermeil

The St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, built in traditional Syriac architecture in the French city of Montfermeil was consecrated by H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, assisted by the archbishop of Central Europe Mor Yulius Çiçek. The church was built the Syriac Orthodox community in Clichy-Sous-Bois and in its neighborhood, lead by Qashisho Ya`qub Aydin. About 800 people attended the ceremony from different parts of Europe. Among them were the mayor of Montfermeil and representatives of civic bodies, representatives of other Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches, consuls of the Syrian government in France and Belgium and leaders of non-governmental aid organizations involved in relief work for Christians in the Middle East.

Source: Message on Beth Suryoyo Forum, dt. Aug 21, 2004by Samuel Yalap

Mor Severius Saliba passes away

July 27, 2004

Mor Severius Saliba

H.E. Mor Severius Saliba Tuma, the first metropolitan of Zahle, Lebananon, entered into eternal rest, succumbing to a tumor in the brain. His Eminence was born in the city of Qamishli in Syria on Nov 21, 1969. His theological education was at the Patriarchal Seminary in Damascus. In 1989 he was tonsured a monk and in 1992 was ordained priest. From 1994-98 he was engaged in doctoral research at the Oriental Institute in Rome. He returned to Damascus and became vicar there. On May 14, 2000, he was consecrated the first Metropolitan for the Archdiocese of Zahle in Lebanon by H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I at the Sts. Peter & Paul's Patriarchal Cathedral at Ma'arat Saydnaya, Damascus. This diocese was created out of the Beirut diocese.

During the past few days Mor Severius had lapsed into a comma. The mortal remains will be laid to rest at 5 pm on 29th July at the St. George Church, Zahle, Lebanon.

Source: SOL News

President Bush meets with religious leaders in Istanbul

June 28, 2004

Istanbul. U.S. President George Bush who is in Istanbul for the NATO summit met on Sunday with religious leaders. Ali Bardakoglu, the head of Religious Affairs Department, Istanbul Mufti Mustafa Cagirici, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, Armenian Patriarch Mutafyan, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Istanbul Mor Yusuf Cetin and Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva met with the President. Bush applauded Turkey's secular policy while being strong in its belief.

Source: Anadolu Agency, June 28, 2004

Patriarchal Delegate to Malankara Mor Ostatheos Benyamin passes away

June 17, 2004

Funeral of Mor Ostatheos Benyamin

Mor Osthatheos Benyamin Joseph (55), the delegate of the Patriarch to the Malankara Church, died of cardiac arrest at a private hospital near his home town on Thursday, June 17th. The metropolitan was admitted to the hospital on June 14 following a severe stroke and collapsed while the doctors were examining him. The funeral was held on Saturday, 19th June, presided by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I at Manjanikkara Mor Ignathios Dayro after thousands of people paid respects to the departed bishop from Kunnamkulam to Manjanikkara. His mortal remains were interred next to the tomb of his predecessor Mor Yulius Yakub (1992) in front of the tomb of the late Patriarch St. Elias III.

Born in Kunnamkulam in the Thrissur district in 1949, he was ordained priest in 1973 and elevated as Metropolitan on 7 October 1984. Mor Ostatheos was the secretary of their Holinesses Moran Mor Ya`qub III and Moran Mor Zakka I Iwas Patriarchs from 1977-84.

Biography of Mor Osthatheos Metropolitan:

Source: Malankara Voice

Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation on Evangelization

June 16, 2004

Evangelization was the main topic of this year’s session of the Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation. The meeting took place on June 7 and 8 at the Passionist Spiritual Center in Bronx, New York, under the co-chairmanship of Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany and Very Rev. Chorbishop John Meno of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch. Fr. Athanasius Farag spoke on the theology of evangelization in the Coptic Orthodox Church and Rev. Frank DeSiano, CSP spoke about the Catholic understanding of evangelization. Archbishop Mor Theethos Yeldho Pathickal, of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America, who attended for the first time since his recent installation as metropolitan, was welcomed to the consultation. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on June 9-10, 2005, at St Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, New York. It will focus on developing closer relations among our churches, and on the position of the Catholic Church regarding proselytism among the Oriental Orthodox faithful.

Source: Eastern US Archdiocese Website

Obituary: Former Union Minister Mr. A.M. Thomas

April 27, 2004


KOCHI. Former Union Minister Mr. A.M. Thomas (91) passed away at Kochi today. Mr. Thomas was a prominent member of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and was decorated by HH Patriarch Mor Zakka I in 1986 for his services to the church. Mr. A.M. Thomas had the distinction of serving as Minister of State under Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, and Indira Gandhi. He was the first Keralite to serve as a Union Minister and to date the longest parliamentarian from Kerala. His political life started with the Cochin Rajya Prajamandalam in 1948 and he later became the Speaker of the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly. From 1951-67, he represented the Ernakulam constituency in the Parliament. He was later appointed High Commissioner of Australia and of Zambia. He also served as the Chairman of the Khadi Gramadyog for eight years and in several other capacities promoting economic growth in Kerala. The last rites will be conducted at the St. Mary's Chapel in his home town of Kandanad by H.B. Catholicos Baselios Thomas I and graveside services will be lead by his nephew Mor Ivanius Mathews, bishop of Kandanad, at the ancient Syrian Orthodox Church of Kandanad.

Source: Mangalam, Deepika, Malayala Manorama (Malayalam Dailies)

Ecumenical Prayer Meeting in Aleppo

March 20, 2004

Ecumenical Prayer at Aleppo

An ecumenical prayer for youth was held in the St Mary's Syrian Catholic Cathedral on the 20th of March 2004;church leaders and over two hundred youth participated in the prayer for unity. Bishop Antoine Shahda of the Syrian Catholic welcomed people to the church; Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church read from the Bible, while Bishop Boulos Yazaji conducted the ceremony. The prayer, which was taken from the original text of the prayer of unity for 2004 and adopted by young people in Aleppo included hymns from different churches, prayers and supplications prepared by youth. In his ceremony, Bishop Yazaji talked about the process of unity between churches and the theological obstacles, which are on the agenda of dialogue between churches such as differences in dogma, the community of saints, and the issue of proselytism. He stressed that unity does not mean the absence of diversity, nor it is the misuse of the concept of ecumenism in order to achieve more divisions. The unity, he said, needs the humility of Jesus Christ. Rev Bichara Mousa Ogli, secretary for the Council of Church Leaders in Aleppo, led the prayer and explained the meaning of the icon of "Jesus and the Tree" and the theme of the year which was selected by an Episcopal Committee in Aleppo.


Chor Episcopus Abraham Thadathil passes away

March 21, 2004

V. Rev. Abraham Thadathil

V. Rev. Chor Episcopus Abraham Thadathil, a prominent priest of the Kottayam diocese entered eternal rest on March 20th at the age of 72. He served as the secretary of Kottayam diocese for several years and was also a member of the Managing Committee of the Malankara Church. Fr. Abraham had also served as the Vice President of the Malankara Sunday School Association and director of Sunday Schools in the Kottayam diocese. Fr. Abraham was the vicar of Kanam St. Mary's Puthenpalli and Thrikkothamangalam St. Mary's Bethlehem Patriarchal Church at the time of his death; he had formerly served as vicar of churches at Nedumavu, Velloor, Nalunnakkal, Pambadi East, and Pambadi Simhasana Church. Fr. Abraham also served as a teacher at the St. Mary's School, Manarcaud. Fr Abraham is survived by his wife Salamma and four children. The mortal remains of the departed priest were interred in the cemetery of Kanam St. Mary's Church on March 21st.

Source: Malankara Voice

Mor Theethos enthroned Malankara Archbishop of North America

February 28, 2004

Sontroniso of Mor Theethos

The Sontroniso of Archbishop Mor Theethos Yeldho Pathickal was held on February 28, 2004 at St. Mark's Cathedral, Teaneck, NJ. Mor Theethos was consecrated Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of North America by H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at the Monastery of St. Aphrem the Syrian, in Ma`rat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria on 4 January 2004 and assumed the name 'Mor Theethos'. Bishops and priests from Syriac Orthodox church, Armenian Orthodox Church, Coptic Orthodox Church and Greek Orthodox Church participated in the service along with hundreds of members of Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America. Bishops and clergy included H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim (Archbishop of Syriac Orthodox Church for the Eastern U.S.A.), H.G. Mor Gregorios Joseph (Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church), H.G. Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) Father Shnork Sauin (representing H.E. Khajag Barsamian of Armenian Church), V. Rev. Meeron Aznikian & Archpriest Moushegh Der Kaloutian (Representing H.E Oshagan Choloyan of Armenian Apostolic Church of America), Fr. Jacob (representing H.G Bishop David of Coptic Orthodox Church), Father Michael Qreene (representing Archbishop Aboona Mathias of Ethiopian Orthodox Church), Archpriest David Brum (representing H.B. Metropolitan Herman of All America and Canada of Orthodox Church in America), Very Rev. Elias Bitar & Very Rev. Joseph Allen (representing Metropolitan Philip of Antiochean Orthodox Archdiocese) and Msgr. Robert L Stern (representing Catholic Near East Welfare Association). See album in Source: SOCM-Forum

Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Dialogue in Egypt

January 30, 2004

Delegates at Nasr

From January 27-30, 2004, the representatives of the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches convened the first meeting of their official theological dialogue in Nasr City (Cairo, Egypt), at the Coptic Orthodox Saint Mark Centre. Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan Bishoy were the co-chairmen and Msgr. Johan Bonny and Bishop Nareg Alemezian were the co-secretaries of the meeting. Twenty eight clergy and lay theologians of the Armenian, Coptic, Syrian, Indian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches—the representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church were absent—and the Catholic Church evaluated the work of the official and unofficial bi-lateral dialogues between the Catholic Church and the Family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the common declarations signed by the Heads of their respective Churches. On Wednesday, January 28, H.H. Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, received the Commission members and wished them fruitful deliberations.

The second meeting of the Commission will be hosted by the Catholic Church, January 24-30, 2005, in Rome, and the topic of the discussion will be ‘Church as Communion’. Full Story

Source: SOL News

New Metropolitan for Malankara Knanaya Diocese

January 18, 2004

H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated Very Rev. Rabban Edavazhikkal Kuriakose as 4th metropolitan of the Knanaya Church at Monastery of St. Aphrem the Syrian, in Ma`rrat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria on 15 January 2004. Rabban Kuriakose assumed the name "Mor Severius". Their Eminences Mor Yulius Kuriakose—secretary to His Holiness the Patriarch, Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi, Mor Eldo Theethos (America & Canada), and Mor Severius Saka (Iraq), assisted His Holiness in the consecration ceremonies. Many dignitaries, monks, nuns, friends and around 150 Knanaya faithful from India, Arabian Gulf, Australia, Europe, and America & Canada witnessed the consecration. On Jan 18th, the "sunthroneeso" of the new bishop was held at Valiyapally, Kottayam. With the consecration, there are 16 bishops in Malankara.

Source: SOCM-Forum

New bishop for Malankara Archdiocese of North America

January 4, 2004

H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated Very Rev. Raban Yeldo Pathickal as Archbishop of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America at the Monastery of St. Aphrem the Syrian, in Ma`rat Sayyidnaya, Damascus, Syria on 4 January 2004, 9.00 AM. Raban Yeldo assumed the name "Mor Theethos". Their Eminences Mor Gregorious Joseph (Kochi) the synod secretary of Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Mor Yulius Kuriakose (First Secretary to the Patriarch), Mor Osthathius Matta Rohom (Syria), Mor Severius Saka (Iraq), Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Secretary to the Patriarch), and Mor Cyril Aphrem (Eastern USA) assisted His Holiness in the consecration. The first secretary of the Indian Embassy in Damascus Mr. R.C. Manchanda represented the embassy at the event.

Born on 22 July 1970 to Pathickal P M Kuriakose and Sosamma, His Grace belongs to the Perumbavur Bethel Suloko Church in the Ankamaly diocese, India. He did his schooling at the Ashramam High School, Perumbavur, undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mathematics from the Union Christian College at Alwaye, and B.Ed. degree from the Mahatma Gandhi University. At age 12, on 28 October 1982, he was ordained deacon by Mor Athanasius Paulose, the late Metropolitan for the Evangelical Association of the East. The Metropolitan had his theological education at the Patriarchal Seminary at the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Seminary at Udayagiri, India, and the Mor Aphrem Seminary in Damascus. On September 5, 1999, he was tonsured a monk by His Holiness the Patriarch and on 26th ordained Qasheesho. After the demise of Mor Gregorios in 1999, he was appointed the administrator of the Perumpally St. George Church. Later he was deputed to New York and had been serving different churches in the Malankara Archdiocese of North America till recently. From 1995 to 2001, he was actively involved in YMCA as its regional vice chairman and also as its National Executive Board member.

Invitation Front Page
Invitation In Syriac
Invitation In English

Source: SOCM-Forum

St. Peter's, Bahrain, celebrates Silver Jubilee

December 16, 2003

On 11th December His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I reached Bahrain to attend the silver jubilee celebrations of the St. Peter's Syrian Orthodox Church, Bahrain. HH was received at the Airport by Bahrain's Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sh. Abdulla Bin Khalid Al-Khalifa and Undersecretary at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs H.E. Sh. Khalifa Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa and the church Managing Committee members. A public meeting was held in connection with the Patriarch's visit & the jubilee function, in which a commemorative Souvenir and Gold coin were released. On 13th December H.H. hosted a banquet for invited dignitaries and the church members at Ritz Carlton Hotel.

During the five day visit, H.H. celebrated Holy Qurbono on two occasions. On 14th December His Holiness visited Hope Institute for Disabled Children to donate one computer, printer and scanner, on behalf of Bahrain Church's silver jubilee charity projects. On 15th His Holiness met the King His Majesty Sh. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa and in the evening delivered a speech at Bait Al-Quran (An archive of Quraan). Specially invited dignitaries were present on the occasion. The event was organised by the Bait Al-Quran authorities under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister.

Source: Malankara Voice

Obituary: Very Rev. P.P. Joseph Pulickaparambil

November 30, 2003

Very Rev. Chor Episcopus P.P. Joseph Pulikaparambil (87) entered into eternal rest at Kottayam. A former Vice Principal of CMS College, Kottayam, Fr. Joseph had also served as the Priest Trustee of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Kottayam Diocesan Secretary, and on Syrian Orthodox-Roman Catholic consulations. He was also the Panchayat President of Tiruvarpu for 26 years. H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka had decorated him with honor of "Koruzo dashroro." He was married to late Mary Joseph of Nedumbassery and is survived by two children. Funeral services were held at St. Thomas Church, Chengalam, presided by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I.

Source: Malankara Voice

Heads of Oriental Orthodox Churches meet at Antelias

October 18, 2003

Antelias, Lebanon – On Saturday, October 18, 2003 at the end of the annual meeting of the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Church, His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I of the Syrian Church and His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Church-Catholicosate of Cilicia signed a common declaration underlining their concerns and perspectives related to the active participation of their faithful in Evangelism, Diakonia, Christian education, theological formation and youth involvement as the genuine expressions of life and witness of their Churches. Additionally, issues related to theological dialogues and ecumenical collaboration on global and regional levels, as well as human rights, social justice, peace and inter-faith relations were discussed and highlighted.

On Friday evening, October 17, 2003, His Holiness Aram I hosted an official dinner at the Catholicosate in honor of His Holiness Shenouda III and His Holiness Zakka I. The dinner was attended by 150 guests, including the representatives of the President of the Republic, His Excellency General Emil Lahoud, of the Speaker of the Parliament, His Excellency Mr. Nabih Berri, and of the Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. Rafik Hariri, and Christian and Muslim spiritual leaders, dignitaries of the diplomatic corps and leaders of the Armenian community. His Holiness Aram I addressed the guests and indicated that the meeting of the three Spiritual Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches is the manifestation of Christian unity, inter-religious and ecumenical cooperation and expression of a living faith.

Source: SOL News

Oriental Orthodox Concelebration

October 11, 2003


East Brunswick, NJ: Bishops of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the US concelebrated the divine liturgy at the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church at 433 Riva Avenue, East Brunswick, NJ 08816. The divine liturgy was followed by an agape meal. The concelebration was sponsored by the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches. The principal celebrants included H.E. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian (Diocese of the Armenian Church for the Eastern US), H.E. Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim (Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church for the Eastern US), H.E. Archbishop Mor Ivanios Mathews (Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church of North America), H.E. Archbishop Matthias (Archdiocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church of North America), and H.G. Bishop David (Archdiocese of the Coptic Orthodox Church of North America).

Source: Fr. John Brian (Orthodox Unity Forum)

Mor Kuriakose Theophilos consecrated bishop

September 29, 2003

Consecration of Mor Theophilos Kuriakose

Puthenkurishu: Rev. Dr. Saji Varghese, a Professor at the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary was consecrated bishop by H.B. Catholicos Thomas I at the Patriarchal Center, in a ceremony attended by thousands of faithful. Mor Markos Kurilos read the Patriarchal encyclical E87/03 blessing the consecration. This is the first consecration of a bishop in Malankara in 12 years and the first bishop to be consecrated by the Catholicos Thomas I. Mor Theophilos will be the resident bishop of the Seminary. Born on February 1, 1966, to Cheria Varkey and Saramma Varkey in the Kodikuthiyil family, in the parish of St. George Tabor Church, Ooramana in the Kandanad diocese, Mor Theophilos did his schooling at the Ooramana High School, BA in Political Science from the St. Peter’s College, Kolenchery, B.Th. from the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Seminary, Udayagiri, in 1980, and B.D. from the Union Theological Seminary, Bangalore, in 1993. He earned his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Regensburg, Germany, in 2001. He has taught at the Malankara Seminary from 1993-95 and since 2002. He was ordained deacon by late H.G. Mor Gregorius Gewargis in 1989 and priest on Nov 12, 2002. Since 1994, he has served as a member of the Dialogue Committee of the Roman Catholic and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Churches. With the consecration, the Malankara Church now has 14 bishops.

Source: Malankara Voice and Malayalam Dailies

Administrative Changes in Malankara Archdiocese

September 22, 2003

His Holiness the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, vide enyclical No. 191/ 03, dt. Sep 22, 2003, announced administrative changes in the Malankara Archdiocese of North America. Archbishop Mor Ivanius Matthews will relinquish responsibilities related to administration of the diocese and return to Malankara on Dec 31, 2003. Rabban Eldho Pathickal will assume responsibility as the administrator of the archdiocese.

Source: SOCM-Forum

Mor Malatius consecrated bishop for Australia and New Zealand

September 7, 2003

His Holiness the Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated Raban Malki Lahdo Malki as the bishop of the Syrian orthodox diocese of Australia and New Zealand n 7th September 2003 at Saydnaya/Damascus. The new bishop assumed the episcopal name “Mor Malatius”. His Eminence Mor Malatius Malki Malki is the first Archbishop to be consecrated officially for the diocese of Australia. He will reside at the Mor Ephraim Cathedral in Sydney. Full Story.

Source: SOL-News

H.B. Catholicos Thomas I celebrates 75th Birthday

July 26, 2003

H.B. Catholicos celebrated his 75th birthday and the first anniversary of consecration as Catholicos at the Patriarchal Center, Puthenkurishu. The divine liturgy was offered on three altars at the Kothamangalam Mar Thoman Church in the morning. The fecilitation for the Catholicos was held at Puthenkurishu at 10:45 am followed by the Church Delegates Meeting at noon. Metropolitans of the Church, Central Minister P.C. Thomas, State Minister T.M. Jacob, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocesan bishop of Ernakulam-Ankamaly Mar Thomas Chakiath were among the audience. The newly formed social ministry was dedicated at the meeting and a trust for the welfare of priests was initiated.

Source: Malankara Voice

Annual Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation held in New York

June 26, 2003

Deacons and deaconesses were the main topic of discussion at a June 9-10 meeting of the U.S. Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation. Meeting at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in New Rochelle, N.Y., the group June 9 heard brief presentations from representatives of each church on the theology and practice of the diaconate in that church, including limited use of deaconesses in some of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Generally, according to a news release on the meeting released June 26 by the communications office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the first millennium all the participating churches experienced deacons as vital ministers working closely with bishops, with special emphasis on social and administrative duties. By the start of the second millennium, however, in most of the churches diaconate had become largely a transitional state preceding ordination to the priesthood. While the churches held a common understanding that deacons share in the sacrament of orders along with priests and bishops, each tradition had unique developments in its practice. The meeting was co-chaired by Very Rev. John Meno of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Eastern USA. Very Rev. Rabban Eugene Aydin and Rev. Anthony DeLuca presented papers on the deaconate at the meeting.


Fr. A.P. Joseph consecrated Chor Episcopus

June 19, 2003

Patriarchal Bull being read on the consecration of Fr. A.P. Joseph as Chor Episcopus

Rev. Prof. A.P. Joseph Anjilimoottil, Administrator, Knanaya Samudayam was consecrated Chor Episcopus on 19th June 2003 by H.G Mor Diwanasios Gewargis as directed by H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatious Zakka I at the St. Mary's Church Anaprampal, Edathua.

Fr. Joseph was born on 23 April 1938 as the third son of Anjilimoottil Punnoose Chacko and Chachyamma. He is from the 14th generation of the great warrior of Syrian Orthodox Faith, Anjilimoottil Itty Thomman Kathanar, who led the historical "Koonan Kurishu Oath" in Malankara, India. Fr. Joseph was ordained as deacon in 1956 and as priest in 1961. He served as the vicar of Anaprampal St. Mary's Church, Kallissery Knanaya Valiayapally, Chingavanam Dayara Church, Ozhuvanpara St.George Church, and Othara St. Mary's Church. He has officiated as the Knanaya Diocesan Secretary, Secretary to late H.G. Abraham Mor Clemis and as Knanaya Priest Trustee. Fr. A.P. Joseph was the Principal of St. Thomas College, Ranni, Kerala from 1983 to 1992. He was elected as the Administrator of Knanaya Diocese by the Malankara Suriani Knanaya Association on 7th December 2002 at Mor Ephraim Seminary at Chingavanam and was appointed on 11 December 2002 by H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I, through Bull No. E247/02.

Source: Jefferson Joseph

Fourteen Syriac Families Return Home to Midyat

June 10, 2003

Fourteen 14 Syriac families, who immigrated from Elbegendi village in the Midyat district of Mardin to settle in Germany and Switzerland, will return to their homes. The village is preparing to welcome these 14 families, who left their hometowns almost 20 years ago due to terrorism. The families will have 14 villas constructed in their village, each at a cost between Turkish Lira 80-170 billion.

Turabdin Metropolitan General Secretary Yusuf Begtas, in his interview to state- run Anatolia news agency, said that the villas will be constructed in conformance to the historical texture of Midyat and the families will meet the expenditure with their own opportunities. Stating that the telephone and electricity networks would be installed under the ground, Begtas said that some sport facilities will be constructed within the villas. "Mardin Governor Temel Kocaklar supports this project. GAP Development Management will supply water with the help of a test bore. The families will restore the historic church in the village," added Begtas. He also said that another 60 families, living in several countries in Europe, wanted to return to their hometowns.

Source: Turkish Daily News (June 10, 2003)

Syria's Shades of Gray

June 7, 2003

Author William Dalrymple published a column in today's New York Times featuring Syria as the only remaining haven for Christians in the Middle East. The West projects Syria as a repressive nation that promotes terrorism while conniving at similar traits of its Middle-Eastern allies. In its push for the roadmap he Bush administration has virtually ignored Syria, which physically links Iraq and Israel, except to single it out as a target of occasional bellicose threats. While the author notes that Syria has much to reform especially in the area of political rights, he points out that Syria allows its people cultural and religious freedoms. Today, these give Syria's minorities a security and stability far greater than their counterparts anywhere else in the region. This is particularly true of Syria's ancient Christian communities. Dalrymple quotes the Syriac Orthodox metropolitan of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Ibrahim, who said "Christians are better off in Syria than anywhere else in the Middle East. Other than Lebanon, this is the only country in the region where a Christian can really feel the equal of a Muslim. If Syria were not here, we would be finished. It is a place of sanctuary, a haven for all the Christians: for the Nestorians driven out of Iraq, the Syrian Orthodox and the Armenians driven out of Turkey, even the Palestinian Christians driven out by the Israelis" in 1948." Full Story.

Source: New York Times (June 7, 2003)

Ancient Syriac Gospel stolen from the Church of Forty Martyrs in Mardin

April 18, 2003

According to the Turkish newspaper Zaman, a 300 year old Book of the Gospels in Syriac were stolen from the Cathedral of the Forty Martyrs in Mardin. The robbers came to the church early yesterday and introduced themselves to a Syriac Orthodox boy as researchers. The boy let them into the church. They locked up the boy in the church and fled with the Gospel Book. Earlier, on January 7, 2003, the Church of the Mother of God in Diyarbakir was similarly plundered by criminals who remain at large. It appears that an organized gang of criminals is operating in Southeast Turkey. Fr. Gabriel Akyüz said that the church has appealed to the Turkish authorities to help protect the Syrian churches and monasteries in Tur `Abdin and its invaluable heritage from looting.

Source: SOL News

Malankara Syrian Orthodox Easter celebration at Los Angeles on BBC

April 18, 2003

As part of its program on Good Friday, the BBC Asian Network Radio featured an interview with the SOR Web Master Thomas Joseph on Easter celebrations of the Malankara Christians at the St. Mary's Church in Los Angeles. The host Lopa Kothari asked questions about Syriac Orthodox Christians from India in Los Angeles, the celebration of Easter, and the challenges that the small community faces in maintaining its identity in the West. Transcript (RealAudio Format).

Rabban Eliya Bahe and Rabban Nuri Saliba Özmen consecrated Archbishops

February 9, 2003

Rabban Eliya Bahe and Rabban Nuri Saliba Özmen consecrated Archbishops by H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Ma`rat Sayyidna. . Raban Elia was the secretary to His Holiness and assumed the name "Mor Athanasius". Rabban Nuri Saliba Özmen was consecrated Archbishop of Mardin and took the name "Mor Philexinos". The ancient diocese of Mardin had remained vacant for 34 years after the Archbishop Mor Yuhanna Dölabani, an eminent scholar and author, passed away in 1969. Archbishop Özmen will administer the archdiocese from the ancient Mor Hananyo monastery, the erstwhile seat of the Patriarch of Antioch, in Mardin. After the consecration at Damascus, Archbishop Özmen was welcomed at Mardin by several Syriac Orthodox faithful. Archbishop Özmen is a graduate of the Oxford University and has a Masters Degree in Semitic Languages.

Source: SOLNews

Second Phase of Ecumenical Dialogue with Roman Catholic Church

January 28, 2003

Pope John Paul II launched the second phase of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the ancient Eastern Churches that separated from Rome in 451. Representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Coptic Patriarchate of Egypt, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, the Orthodox Church of Eritrea, and the Syrian Orthodox Church of Malankara were present at today's audience in Vatican. "Susbtantial ecumenical progress has already been made between the Catholic Church and the different Eastern Orthodox Churches," the Holy Father said when receiving the members of the dialgoue committee. "Essential clarifications have been reached with regard to traditional controversies about Christology, and this has enabled us to profess together the faith we hold in common," he added. "This progress is most encouraging, since it shows that the path followed is the right one and that we can reasonably hope to discover together the solution to disputed questions. May your efforts to establish a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue prove a major step forward toward full communion in truth and charity." the Pope added. Most of the representatives of the Churches came from the Middle East and surrounding areas. The Holy Father invited them to "pray together that the this region will be preserved from the threat of war and further violence." "May our ecumenical endeavors always be directed to the building up of a 'civilization of love,' founded on justice, reconciliation and peace," he concluded. The dialogue which commenced on the 27th and ends on 29th is studying the topics and methods of the second phase of dialogue. To date, theological agreements were reached separately between each of the Churches and the Catholic Church. The second phase will foster dialogue among all the Churches in a single commission.


Church of the Mother of God, Diyarbakr, looted

January 9, 2003

Diyarbakir. On the evening of January 6th Muslim looters broke into the Syriac Orthodox Church of the Mother of God in Diyarbakir, Turkey and vandalized the building. Many valuable and historical items were stolen including an 18th-century hand-written Bible, three silver crosses dating to 17th century, an ancient icon of the Mother of God placed over the tomb of the 12th century Syriac theologian Dionysios Bar Salibi, and two rare gilded chalice and paten veils made of silk. The robbers entered the church after climbing over the walls of the premises and then sawing the steel lattices on the building. The priest Yusuf Akbulut who came to celebrate the morning service reported the robbery to authorities. Fr. Akbulut was the center of attention in 2001 when he was arrested for his views on the genocide of Armenians and Syrians in 1915. The court proceedings attracted the attention of foreign politicians and human rights activists and Fr. Akbulut was acquitted.

Amid (later known as Diyarbakr) was at one time the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. It produced many Syriac theologians and Patriarchs. The church is one of the most ancient Syrian church buildings in Mesopotamia and dates to around 3rd century. It was perhaps a temple before; the two lion heads in the entrance portal suggest its pre-Christian origins. In the course of its history the church was plundered many times. It was once a great pilgrimage center that today's name of the city Diyarbakır is thought to have been derived from "Deir Bakira", i.e. Church of the virgin". Diyarbakir had 13,500 Syrians in the year 1870 but lost 5379 in the "Year of the Sword" (1915). In 1966 it still had a 1,000 Syrian Christians but today only 4 families with a priest who cares for all Christian denominations there. Others emigrated to Istanbul and into the western Diaspora. Recently a part of the Syrian cemetery with its graves was obliterated in the guise of constructing a road. The protests of the Syrian community remain unheeded. Full Story in German.

Source: SOL News

Four Metropolitans consecrated for Malankara

December 8, 2002

His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I consecrated four metropolitans for the Malankara Church at the Sts. Peter & Paul's Patriarchal Cathedral at Ma'arat Saydnaya, Damascus today, assisted by the Catholicos H.B. Mor Baselius Thomas I and other metropolitans of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Middle East and in Malankara. Rabban Geevarghese Raban Karimbil was consecrated Mor Divanasios Gewargis for the Ankamaly diocese, Rabban John Elavinammannil as Mor Milithious Yuhanon for Niranam, Thumpamon & Kollam diocese, Rabban Kurian John Ponnakuzhy as Mor Diascoros Kuriakose for the Kandanad diocese, and Rabban Gewargis Eralil as Mor Athanasios Gewargis for the Trichur diocese. All bishops have been appointed as assistants to the Catholicos in the respective dioceses. Their Eminences Mor Yulius Kuriakose, First Secretary to His Holiness, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Secretary of the Malankara Synod, Mor Philoxinos Matta Shem`un, Patriarchal Vicar for the Patriarchal Institutes in Lebanon, Mor Severios Saka, Patriarchal Vicar for higher Syriac Studies, Mor Theophilos George Saliba of Mount Lebanon, Mor Ostatheos Matta Roham of Jazira & Euphrates, Mor Severios Mourad of Jordan & Jerusalem, Mor Silvanos Boutros of Homs & Hama, Mor Severios Saliba of Zahle & Bekaa, and Mor Ivannis Poulos, Patriarchal Vicar of Damascus assisted His Holiness in the consecration ceremonies. Ministers and representatives of the Syrian Republic government, monks and priests including Chorepiscopus Sleeba Kattumangattu from Malankara, deacons, nuns and faithful witnessed the consecration. Photographs.

Source:Malankara Voice

European Parliament Hearing on Syriac Christians in Turkey and Iraq

December 1, 2002

Four members of the European Union Parliament have issued a statement on the plight of Syriac Christians in Turkey and Iraq. The situation was raised in an open hearing at the Parliament in early October 2002. Anders Wijkman, Lennart Sacrédeus, Jonas Sjöstedt, and Eija-Riitta Korhola signed the statement. Text of the Statement.

The 100th dhukhrono of the Holy Mor Gregorius celebrated at Puthenkurishu

Nov 2, 2002

Puthencruz, Kerala, India: Over a hundred thousand faithful assembled at the Patriarch Centre here on Saturday to witness the unique and historic Holy Qurbono concelebrated by a hundred and one priests on the occasion of the 100th dukhrono of the Holy Mor Gregorius Gewargis (kochu thirumeni) of Parumala. The Catholicos H.B. Baselius Thomas I led the offering of the Divine Mysteries along with bishops Mor Philoxenos Yuhannon, Mor Ostatheos Benyamin Joseph, Mor Themotheos Thomas, Mor Gregorius Joseph, Mor Koorilos Markos, Mor Polycarpos Gheevarghese, Chor Episcopos and priests. The services started with the procession of the priests, monks and bishops to the temporary church welcomed by the people with the traditional hymn "Tobo shlom."

A temporary 'madbho' (Altar) several hundred feet long in five steps, built at the Patriarch Centre ground was the stage for the holy ceremony. Here 101 altars were arranged at five levels for the 101 priests to say the liturgy. The believers were seen flooding to the centre hours before the liturgy. More Photographs.

Source: Malankara Voice

Ecumenical Reception for H.B. Catholicos Thomas I at Teaneck, NJ

October 25, 2002

H.B. Catholicos Baselius Thomas I was welcomed by an ecumenical gathering of bishops, clergy and laity of Oriental Orthodox Churches and other denominations at the headquarters of the Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church for the Eastern United States, in Teaneck, NJ, on Friday, October 25, 2002. This was the first visit of the Catholicos to the USA after his consecration in July 2002. The welcoming ceremony started with a brief prayer service in the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral of St. Mark and was followed by a fasting luncheon, where the Armenian Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Armenian Diocese of America (Eastern) delivered remarks of welcome among other prelates.


The Patriarch visits Armenia

October 21-22, 2002

Yerevan. President Robert Kocharian received the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, accompanied by the Armenian Catholicos, His Holiness Garegin II and other high-ranking clergy. Having welcomed the Patriarch’s visit to Armenia, Robert Kocharian said that the Armenia Church has had an extremely important contribution and role in the life of the Armenian nation. According to him, the Armenian Church has always supported the Armenian state.

The Patriarch of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church highly praised the cooperation between sister-churches and emphasized that the friendship between the two nations and the two Churches dates back to the earliest years of Christianity. The Armenian Catholicos emphasized the importance of the Patriarch’s visit and said that such visits are mutually enriching. The Catholicos particularly emphasized the importance of close cooperation between spiritual leaders of Churches with similar beliefs.

On Tuesday October 22, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, accompanied by bishops from both churches, visited the Vazkenian Theological Seminary of Sevan. The Very Rev. Fr. Bagrat Vartabed Galsdanian, Dean of the Seminary, greeted and received the entourage as they entered the complex. His Holiness Zakka I was led on a walking tour of the seminary by His Holiness Karekin II, who introduced him to the clergymen, instructors and seminarians. Fr. Galsdanian presented brief remarks on the history of the ancient Monastery of Sevan, and the new seminary which was founded in 1990.

The seminarians presented a musical program for the enjoyment of the guests, upon conclusion of which, Patriarch Zakka I addressed his message to them. He stated in part, "This seminary is not only the future of your Church, but also her hope. His Holiness Karekin II, when yet still Vicar General (of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese), had the foresight and wisdom to found this establishment on the banks of this serene lake, with the blessing of Catholicos Vazken I, after whom your seminary is now named. May you all learn well, heeding your dean and instructors, so that we may proudly look upon you one day as the leaders of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church."

Following their visit to the seminary at Lake Sevan, the two Pontiffs returned to the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin for a farewell dinner. The dinner was the final event in a four-day schedule of activities during which His Holiness Karekin II and the entire Armenian Church hosted the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church on an official visit to Armenia.

The official site of the President of Armenia
AZG Armenian Daily
(URL: )

St. Ignatius Church, Dallas celebrates Jubilee

October 20, 2002

The St. Ignatius Church in Carrolton, Dallas, TX celebrated the 25th year of its founding today. The celebrations were presided by H.B. Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I accompanied by H.E. Archbishop Mor Ivanius Matthews of USA and H.G. Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon of Malabar.


Mor Clemis Abraham passes away

October 1, 2002

Funeral of Mor Clemis Abraham

The Great Metropolitan of the East and bishop of the Knanaya diocese Mor Clemis Abraham passed away on September 29, 2002 at Ernakulam. Mor Clemis was the senior most bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church all over the world and the longest serving bishop in the history of the Malankara Church. Mor Clemis had been indisposed for over a month and had been hospitalized. About a week before his last moments he foresaw his imminent end and told those near him that he would breathe his last on Sunday, the 29th. His end was at 11:30 pm the same day. On the 30th, the mortal remains of Mor Clemis were brought to Chingavanam, from where he ministered to the Knanaya diocese and the Malankara Church for over 52 years. Bishops of other churches and people from various walks of life paid respects to the departed metropolitan. Funeral rites were officiated at the St. John's Dayro, Chingavanam, by HB Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I, Mor Yulius Yeshu Çiçek of Central Europe and other Metropolitans of the Malankara Church. The Vicar General of the Knanaya diocese, Very Rev. Chor Episcopus Chirayil M.A. Kuriakose has will administer the diocese until a new metropolitan is consecrated.

Source: Malankara Voice

Syriac Christians Assaulted in Midyat

October 1, 2002

On September 24th, the Turkish Village Guard assaulted Syriac Christians in downtown Midyat, after members of the Haidari family sought the intervention of the local police in recovering their property illegally occupied by members of the Jimo tribe for over ten years. The occupants have connections with the Village Guard and threatened to kill the Haidaris if they did not leave Tur `Abdin immediately. In a decree issued in the summer of 2001, the Turkish Prime Minister Bulant Ecevit promised that the Syriacs will have free access to all constitutional, legal and human rights and that they will be able to recover their property and land. Many Syriacs have attempted to return to Turabdin to recover their occupied property in vain.

Mor Dionysius Thomas consecrated Catholicos

July 31, 2002

Patriarch Zakka I consecrates Mor Dionysius Catholicos

On Friday the 26th July 2002, Mor Dionysius Thomas was consecrated Catholicos with the title Mor Baselius Thomas I, by His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East at Ma'arat Saydnaya. The 73-year-old Mor Baselious Thomas I succeeds Mor Baselious Paulose II as Catholicos.

Fourteen Syrian Orthodox Bishops from India, Syria, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Turkey and Australia attended the enthronement ceremony as co-celebrants--Mor Yulius Çiçek (Central Europe), Mor Philoxenos Matta Shem`un, Mor Theophilos George Saliba (Lebanon), Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas (Tur `Abdin), Mor Philexinos Youseph Cetin (Istanbul), Mor Ostatheos Matta Roham (Jezeera & Euphrates), Mor Gregorios Joseph (Kochi), Mor Diyascoros Benjamin Attas (Sweden), Mor Severius Malki Murad (Jerusalem & Jordan), Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz (Germany), Mor Yulius Kuriakose (First Secretary to the Patriarch), Mor Silvanos Pathrose Alneme (Homs and Hama), Mor Ivanios Mathews (Kandanadu and USA), and Mor Ivanios Paulos Alsouki (Damascus). Thirty five monks, many nuns of the Church and lay people were also present on the occasion to participate in the historical ceremony. Representatives from Government of Syria and India attended the consecration ceremony as special guests. The consecration ceremony started with the celebration of Holy Qurbono at 8 AM by His Holiness the Patriarch which was followed by the enthronement ceremony, signing of Sustaticon and chanting of Oksios. The ceremonial services ended with the completion of the Holy Qurbono by the newly consecrated Catholicos. After the enthronement ceremony a reception was given to the Catholicos His Beatitude Mor Baselius Thomas the First. During the speech delivered on the occasion, His Holiness emphasized that the Holy See of Antioch will take care of the Church in India at any cost. Replying to the congratulatory messages, His Beatitude Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas I reiterated that he will always abide by the faith of the Holy See of Antioch which his predecessors keenly followed and lead the flocks according to the Apostolic faith taught by the Holy fathers.

Sunthroniso ceremony at Mar Thoman Church, Kothamangalam

The Catholicos arrived at Nedumbassery on 27th July and was received at the airport by a large gathering of the faithful. On July 31st, 2002, the Mor Baselius Thomas I was enthroned Catholicos at a sunthroniso ceremony at the Kothamangalam Mar Thoman Cheriyapally. Patriarchal secretary Metropolitan Mor Yulios Kuriakose read the 'Sustaticon', the Patriarchal encyclical announcing the consecration and the duties of the Catholicos. The ceremony concluded when Metropolitans Mor Yulios Kuriakose, Mar Ostatheos Joseph Benyamin, Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, Mor Polycarpos Geevarghese, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Coorilos Markos and Synod secretary Mor Gregoius Joseph lead the chanting of 'Oksios' thrice as Catholicos Thomas I was lifted in his chair.

Mor Dionysius Thomas was chosen to be the Catholicos at the church delegates meeting held at Puthencurish, Kerala On July 6th, 2002. The election was ratified by the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church Synod on 22nd July 2002. With the consecration of the new Catholicos, the split in the Malankara Syrian Church is final.

Source: Malankara Voice

Constitution adopted

July 6, 2002

Publication of the Constitution

The Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church under the Holy See of Antioch adopted a constitution on Saturday, July 6th, at Puthenkurishu Patriarchal Center after its approval by the first meeting of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Association. The Association was elected by the delegates meeting held on July 4th at Puthenkurishu. With the adoption of a constitution, the Church has rejected the Constitution drawn by the Catholicos faction of the Malankara Church in 1934 and subsequently declared the constitution of the entire church by the Supreme Court in 1995. Metropolitan Mor Coorilos Markos presented a copy of the constitution to Catholicos-elect Mor Dionysius Thomas after its approval by the Association.

Source: Mathrubhumi, dt. 7 July 2002

The Patriarch Faction Boycotts the Malankara Association Meeting

March 20, 2002

A meeting of the Malankara Association was unilaterally conducted by the Catholicos faction of the Malankara Church at Parumala St. Peter's Church today. The association meeting and election was presided by the Catholicos Mar Baselios Mathews II. The election confirmed the Catholicos as the Malankara Metropolitan and elected 37 priests and 74 members of the laity to the association. The Supreme Court of India in its 1995 verdict had ordered the conduct of a Malankara association meeting to be attended by both factions after appropriate modifications to the constitution of 1934. Since 1995, several formal and informal dialogues between the two factions were initiated but did not yield fruit. On November 28, 2001, the Supreme Court directed the Catholicos to call for fresh elections to the association by issuing encyclicals "by name". However, the Catholicos proceeded to issue encyclicals using the disputed title of Malankara Metropolitan, seated on the throne of St. Thomas. The agenda of the association meeting was declared as the confirmation of the Catholicos as the Malankara Metropolitan, rather than an open election to the position. While 1064 churches were parties to the litigation that lead to the 1995 verdict, over 1500 churches were notified of the meeting and invited to participate. A tribunal was appointed by the Catholicos to arbitrate disputed matters, but without representatives selected by the Patriarch faction. These issues were brought to the attention of the independent observer Retired Justice V.S. Malimeet at meeting of both parties on December 20, 2001 at Kottayam. The observer ignored the pleas of the Patriarch faction stating that these issues can be considered after the elections are conducted. Having received no assurances of transparency in the election proceedings or of a free and open election to the offices of the association, particularly that of the Malankara Metropolitan, the Patriarch faction decided to boycott the elections.

Puthenkurishu Association MeetingUnder the leadership of Catholicos-designate Mor Dionysius Thomas and the bishops of the Patriarch faction—Mor Ostatheos Benyamin (Patriarchal Delegate), Mor Polycarpos Geewargis (Evangelical Association of the East), Mor Philexinos Yuhanon (Malabar), Mor Themotheos Thomas (Kottayam), Mor Gregorius Joseph (Kochi), Mor Ivanius Matthews (North America), Mor Markose Kurilose, and Vicar Trustee Chor Episcopus Curien Kaniamparambil, the Patriarch faction organized a gathering of all its faithful at Puthenkurishu to re-affirm their resolve to remain united under the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch and All the East. Thousands of faithful including hundreds of priests and 4462 parish delegates from the Patriarch faction churches were in attendance. Holding hands together they renewed their pledge of allegiance to the Patriarch of Antioch. With this turn of events, the schism in the Malankara Church appears headed to a permanent rift. The Patriarch faction has reiterated that they will not seek possession of any church where they do not have a majority, but at the same time will not relinquish churches where they do have majority. The Supreme Court will consider the report submitted by the independent observer in April as well as the petitions concerning irregularities in the conduct of the elections. The litigation between the two factions with a history of nearly a century is likely to drag on without a near-term resolution.

Mor Ivanius Mathews Appointed Archbishop of Malankara Archdiocese in North America

March 3, 2002

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas has appointed H.E. Mor Ivanius Mathews as the archbishop of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. Mor Ivanius was consecrated as tibeloyo (universal) bishop by His Holiness in January 2001. The Patriarch had suspended the former archbishop Mor Nicholovos Zachariah on December 22, 2002, for deviating from his shalmootho (oath of obedience) to the Holy Apostolic See of Antioch and had appointed First Secretary to the Patriarch, H.E. Mor Yulius Kuriakose, as the interim archbishop. The Malankara Archdiocese of North America was created in 1993 as archdiocese directly under the Holy Apostolic See.

V. Rev. Chor Episcopus M.V. Mathai passes away

Nov 12, 2001

V. Rev. Chor Episcopus M.V. Mathai

Muvattupuzha. V. Rev. Chor Episcopus M.V. Mathai, Mulayamkuzhiyil (94) passed away during the Sunday divine liturgical services on November 11, 2001, at St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church, Rakkadu. In his last moments, the aged priest gave a kiss of peace to the vicar of the church, Rev. Fr. George Manthottam, and said, "I am departing from you." Ordained qasheesho by the late Malankara Metropolitan, Mor Athanasius Paulose of Aluva and later Chor Episcopus by late Catholicos Baselius Paulose II, Fr. Mathai had served the St. Mary's Church, Rakkadu, St. John's Church, Pampakuda, St. Peter's and St. Paul's, Kadathi, and Mor Gregorius, Vadakkan Maradi. He also served as a member of the Valakom Panchayat, on the board of Kolenchery Medical Mission Hospital, and as district inspector of Sunday School Association. The funeral rites of Fr. Mathai were held at the St. Mary's church, Rakkadu on Monday, November 12th.

Source: Malankara Voice

Syriac Orthodox Church in Australia Vandalized

Oct 11, 2001

A Syriac Orthodox Church being built at Lidcombe was vandalized with slogans including "Osama bin Laden is Great," "Muslims Rule," and "Kill Jews and Christians" spray-painted on a wall. The building was also set alight. Other attacks upon places of worship at Auburn, Bankstown, Greenacre and Punchbowl have been reported. Police patrols have been increased at Sydney buildings deemed vulnerable to vandalism after attacks on religious premises.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

German Edition of The Hidden Pearl to be published in October

September 25, 2001

Göttingen. The German version of the three-volume documentary series "The Hidden Pearl. The Syrian Orthodox Church and its Ancient Aramaic Heritage" was completed on September 19, 2001, and will be published by "Trans World Film Italia" (TWFI) in Rome, Italy, in early October. Accompanied by three video cassettes (one hour each), they will be available through Syrian Orthodox Parishes and Syriac-Aramaic Associations in the various German speaking countries. Likewise, the series will be available in Dutch, Turkish, Swedish, Syriac and Arabic.

The authors of this multi-language project are Prof. Sebastian Brock (Oxford University), David G.K. Taylor (University of Birmingham) and Witold Witakowsky (University of Uppsala). The documentary videos were produced by TWFI for the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA). Alf Oezen, a German theologian at the University of Göttingen, prepared the German translation. The coordinator for the project in Germany, Gabriel Rabo, provided expert knowledge on the topic. The first part of the series deals with "The Antique Aramaic Heritage", the second part with "The Recipients of the Ancient Aramaic Heritage"; the third volume discusses the current situation of the Syriac Orthodox Church at the beginning of the new millennium. All three volumes and the video cassettes provide a general overview on the different facets of the past, present and future of the Syriac Aramean People in the various regions of the world.

The original English version of "The Hidden Pearl" was published in April 2001. In May, the producer of the video material, Giacomo Pezzali, presented two copies, bound in heavy leather, to the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Mor Ignatius Zakka I. Iwas. One of the copies was subsequently forwarded by the Patriarch to Pope John Paul II, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, during his visit to the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate.

Source: Syriac Online News

Patriarchal Center Building at Puthenkurishu Consecrated

September 15, 2001

The first block of the Patriarchal Center at Puthenkurishu was consecrated on September 14th, the Feast Day of the Holy Cross, by H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, Catholicos-Designate of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, assisted by metropolitans Mor Philexinos Yuhanon, Mor Themotheos Thomas, Mor Polycarpos Geevarghese, Mor Gregorius Joseph, and Mor Ivanius Matthews.

The new building of the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Education Training College, Malekurishu, was also consecrated by the metropolitans on the same day. The public function held in connection with the consecration was addressed by the bishops, Fr. Thomas Varghese Kannethu, Mr. P.A. Jacob (principal of the college) and civic leaders including state minister T. M. Jacob, former minister P.P. Thankachan among others.

The Patriarch Consecrates St. Ignatius, Dubai

June 15, 2001

H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated the newly constructed St. Ignatius Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in Jebel Ali Village, Dubai. Archbishops and clergy from Mesopotamia and Malankara including Mor Clemis Abraham, Mor Dionysius Thomas and Mor Gregorius Joseph assisted the Patriarch in the consecration. The parish is dedicated to the memory of the late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias III. The foundation stone for the complex was laid on October 6, 2000 by H.G. Mor Gregorius Joseph. The Dh3 million two-story complex has the church on the first floor and a multi-purpose prayer hall, parsonage and utility rooms on the ground floor

Source: Geevarghese V. Mani <>

Turkish Authorities arrest another Syriac Christian

June 8, 2001

Yet another Syriac Christian in Turkey has been arrested arbitrarily. Abrohom S. (around 20 years of age) whose parents live in southern Baden-Wuerttemberg was arrested on Friday, 8 June 2001, in Idil (district Cizre) in southeast Turkey. He was brought to the military station, because he had made video documentary of a Christian cemetery. He was documenting life in the Tur Abdin, where about 3,000 members of the Aramean minority still live. Another Syriac Christian with a Swiss passport, who accompanied Abrohom S., was released. His Kurdish companion is still in detention. Abrohom S. has been shifted from Idil to the prison at Midyat.

Source: Suryoyo-Online

Turkish President Visits Deir Za`afaran

June 7, 2001

Turkish President at Deir Za`afaran

On June 6, 2001, the Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer visited the Syriac Orthodox monastery Deir Za`afaran near Mardin. The two Syrian Orthodox bishops in Turkey, Mor Philoxenos Yusuf Cetin of Istanbul and Ankara, Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas of Tur `Abdin, the abbot of the monastery Ibrahim Türker received the president at the entrance to the monastery.

The monastery Deir Za'faran was the residence of the Syriac Orthodox Patriachate from 11th century till 1932, After Patriarch Elias III passed away in 1932 during a visit to Kerala, the seat of the Patriarchate moved to Homs and then to Damascus.

Source: Suryoyo-Online

Pope John Paul Visits Patriarch Zakka at Damascus

May 6, 2001

Patriarch Zakka presents a chalice to Pope John Paul II hspace=

Damascus. H.H. Pope John Paul II, head of the Roman Catholic Church paid a historic visit to H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Damascus. The meeting between the heads of two ancient Sees seperated for over fifteen centuries took place in the St. George Patriarchal Cathedral, Bab Touma. The meeting was attended by several bishops from the Syriac Orthodox Church all over the world, including India, as well as Patriarchs, bishops, clergy and laity of other churches in Syria. The Pope came to Damascus during his personal pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Paul, who set out to Damascus to persecute Christians but became an apostle of the faith after a vision on the road to the city.

Turkish Court Acquits Fr. Akbulut

April 5, 2001

Fr. Yusuf Akbulut

The Diyarbakir State Security Court (DGM) acquitted Syriac Orthodox priest Fr. Yusuf Akbulut today on charges of "provoking religious enmity" by his comments recorded and published last October in the Turkish media.

The parish priest of St. Mary's Church in Diyarbakir, Fr. Akbulut had been indicted for declaring to the Turkish press that his minority Christian community had been among the victims of the alleged Armenian genocide carried out by Turks in 1915. In today's third and final hearing on the case, the state prosecutor declared that analysis of a video recording of the priest's comments indicated that this case was "an issue of freedom of thought." Although Fr. Akbulut had in fact made the statements quoted in the Turkish press, the prosecutor observed, these privately stated opinions did not constitute a public attempt to incite hatred.

Sources: Suryoyo-Online;

Dialogue with Russian Orthodox Church

March 20, 2001

Oriental Orthodox bishops with Patriarch Alexy II

The coordinating committee for the dialogue of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Coptic, Syrian and Armenian Apostolic (Catholicosate of Cilicia) Churches, which belong to the family of Oriental (pre-Chalcedon) Churches, held its first session on March 20, at the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. The coordinating committee includes, from the Oriental Churches, Metropolitan Bishoi of Damiette, secretary of the Holy Synod (Coptic Orthodox Church) and cochairman of the coordinating committee, Bishop Mar Eustathios Matta Roham of Jazeera and Euphretis (Syrian Orthodox Church) and Archimandrite Nareg Alemezian, head of the ecumenical office (Catholicosate of Cilicia). The Russian Orthodox Church is represented on the coordinating committee by Hegumen Hilarion Alfeyev, DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations, Archpriest Valetin Asmus, lecturer at the Moscow Theological Academy and Rev. Vladimir Shmaliy, a lecturer at the MTA. The committee was received by Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia who stated that the meeting was intended to provide a fresh impetus to the mutual study of theological traditions existing in the Orthodox and Oriental Churches, especially in the area of Christological terminology with the objective of finding agreement between the Churches on the questions of faith. Full Story at British Orthodox Web Site.

Two Bishops Consecrated

January 14, 2001

Damascus. His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated two monks from Malankara as tibeloyo (universal) bishops at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Ma'arat Saydnaya. Rabban Fr. R.V. Markose was consecrated Mor Koorilose and Rabban Fr. Mathews Alunkal was consecrated Mor Ivanius. Rabban Markose of Ramanthara family in Kottayam Nattassery was most recently the Syriac malphono at the seminary in Udayagiri. After graduating in arts from Kottayam Baselious College, Mor Kurilose Markose completed his theological education at Old Seminary and was ordained priest by late Mor Gregorius Gheevarghese (Perumpilly). He served as the vicar of churches in Kurichy, Pangada, Bahrain, Roorkela and Bhilai. Mor Ivanius Mathews belongs to the Alunkal family in Kureekadu, Kandanad. Ordained priest by late Catholicos Paulose II, Fr. Mathews served as vicar of churches in New Delhi, Pune, Faridabad and Bahrain. Mor Ivanius holds an MA in Economics and BTh degree from Papal Seminary, Pune.

Source: The Journal of the Kottayam Diocese, Feb 2001

Mor Dionysius Thomas Elected Catholicos-Designate

December 27, 2000

Mor Dionysius Thomas elected Catholicos-Designate

Puthenkurishu. The Metropolitan of Ankamaly archdiocese and President of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Synod, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas was elected Catholicos-Designate by the church delegates meeting at Puthenkurishu, near Kochi. H.G. Mor Thomas Themotheos (Kottayam Diocese), H.G. Mor Gregorious Joseph (Kochi Diocese), H.G. Mor Polycarpos Gheevarghese (Evangelical Association of the East), Very Rev. Chor Episcopus Dr. Curien Kaniamparambil, Very Rev. Dr. Adai Jacob (Principal, MSOT Seminary), and Secretary Rajan Skaria felicitated the Catholicos-Designate. After the late Catholicos H.B. Mor Baselius Paulose II passed away in September 1996, the position of Catholicos in the Patriarchal faction of the Malankara Church had remained vacant. Twenty two hundred and sixteen delegates from 416 parishes in nine dioceses participated in the delegates meeting. Photos.

Source: Malayalam Dailies—Deepika and Malayala Manorama dt. Dec 28, 2000.

Syriacs Migrating Home to S.E. Turkey

October 25, 2000

Syriacs who had fled to Europe to escape the terrorism in the East and Southeast are preparing to return to Turkey now that the fighting is over. Mor Samuel Aktas, the Metropolitan of the Deyrulumur (Dayro d-Mor Gabriel) Monastery, and Malfono Isa Gulten say that many elderly Syriacs have returned while the younger ones are waiting for a sign from the government before they make the move back. With terrorism abating, the Deyrulumur monastery in the Midyat district of Mardin is experiencing an explosion in visitors this year. The officials at the monastery said that the majority of visitors are Syriacs with Turkish nationality who had fled the region many years ago because of the terrorism and economic worries and are now returning from the various European countries they had fled to. Full Story.

Source: Zenda Magazine

Turkish Police Arrests Syriac Orthodox Priest

October 5, 2000

Diyarbakir: Turkish police arrested a Syriac Orthodox priest after he allegedly told newspapers that his Christian minority community had been the victims of genocide carried out by Turks. Police in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir told Reuters they had detained and questioned Father Yusuf Akbulut about stories in Turkish newspapers quoting him as saying Turks had systematically killed Syriac Christians in the southeast. A prosecutor freed Akbulut, who denied the statements.

In early October, journalists from a major Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, interviewed Fr. Akbulut, a priest serving St. Mary’s Syriac Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir with the hope of eliciting a Christian denial of the 1915 Holocaust. Rather than succumbing to the escalating hysteria of threats and intimidation within Turkey, Fr. Yusuf Akbulut instead confirmed the Armenian genocide and insisted that Syriacs had also been similarly victimized. Fr. Yusuf added that Kurds had also been willing accomplices in the killing and that the holocaust was an undeniable historic fact. Fr. Yusuf defiantly asserted that Bet Nahrain (Mesopotamia) is the land of the Syriacs and that irrespective of U.S. Congressional action, "we will have our voices heard throughout the world." On October 4, the Hurriyet carried an article with a photograph of Fr. Yusuf entitled "icimizdeki hain" meaning "A Traitor Amongst Us" with a subheading quoting Fr. Yusuf as saying "Not only Armenians were killed, Syriacs were also killed." The outrage from within Turkey led Turkish military security agents to arrest Fr. Yusuf on October 6 from his church in Diyarbakir. Although earlier reports had stated that Fr. Yusuf had been freed, he remains imprisoned and charged with treason. Fr. Yusuf’s court date is scheduled in military court on December 21, 2000. Under Turkish law, the charge of treason, if sustained, is punishable by death. There is grave concern for Fr. Yusuf’s physical well being while he remains in Turkish custody.

Turkish officials have been outraged by a U.S. Congressional panel's move for a non-binding resolution (HR596, the Armenian Genocide Resolution) urging U.S. President Bill Clinton to characterize the killings of Armenians in the latter days of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Turkey rejects the charges, emphasizing the context of widespread partisan fighting in Anatolia in 1915, and characterizes an Armenian minority as rebels carrying out Russian plans to carve up the country. According to a Syriac democratic organization spokesperson, less than 2000 Syriac families currently live in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast region of Tur `Abdin.

Source: Zenda Magazine

Anagalpura Mission Center Inaugurated

September 23, 2000

A mission center of the Syriac Orthodox Church in India was opened in Anagalpura, near Bangalore, on September 23. The mission center is the headquarters of the missionary activities of the Church in Karnataka and is a result of the tireless efforts and leadership of Metropolitan H.G. Mor Themotheos Thomas of the Outside Kerala Diocese. A chapel, a primary school for villagers and a vocational training school operate in the center premises. A primary health care clinic and a student's center are planned.

The inaugural ceremony followed the celebration on the divine liturgy in the chapel located in the center. The President of the Malankara Synod, H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, presided over the occasion and H.G. Mor Themotheos Thomas welcomed the audience. Karnataka Legislative Council Chairman, David Simon, Karnataka State Minister, Chev. T. John, Rev. Dr. K.C. Abraham, among others addressed the gathering.

Source: The Journal of the Kottayam Diocese, vol. 5, no. 8 (Nov 2000)

Mor Ya`qub Monastery Consecrated

August 25, 2000

HH Patriarch consecrating the altar of the Mor Ya`qub Monastery, Warburg

In a divine service attended by about 10,000 faithful from Germany and its neighbouring countries, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated the monastery in Warburg, naming it after the Syriac Saint and Theologian Mor Jacob of Sarug (451-521). Apart from the host, H.E. Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz of the Archdiocese of Germany, the consecration service was attended by six other Syriac Orthodox Metropolitans: Mor Julius Yeshu’ Çiçek of Central Europe, Mor Severius Jamil Hawa of Bagdad and Basra, Mor Philoxenos Yusuf Çetin of Istanbul and Ankara, Mor Kyrillos Afrem Karim of the Eastern United States, Mor Dioskoros Benjamin Atas of Sweden and the Bishop Mor Severius Saliba Tuma of Zahle (Libanon). Bishops and priests from the Coptic and Armenian churches as also western churches attended the ceremony. The consecration was followed by the celebration of the divine mysteries in an adjacent tent set up to accomodate the multitudes of faithful.

In his sermon, His Holiness spoke of Mor Julius Yeshu’ Çiçek's exemplary pastoral care of the Syriac congregations in Germany. He illustrated this with the citation from St Paul, that Paul had planted and Apollos had watered, but that God gave the growth (1 Cor. 3,6). The monastery, which had been acquired under Mor Julius' term was made ready for consecration under Mor Dionysius. Just as it is impossible for fish to live without water, it is impossible for the Syriac people to live without a monastery in the vicinity. "The inhabitants of Tur ‘Abdin are the honey of the Syriac peoples. The Suryoye have built and bought churches and monasteries ever since the beginning of their emigration to this day, without tiring. Since they came bearing strong faith with them from Tur ‘Abdin into the diaspora, they are a lively people and a good example for the other peoples," the Head of the Church stressed with great enthusiasm before the faithful. His Holiness appealed to the faithful to ensure that their children learn the Syriac language, which the Lord chose before all languages as his mother tounge. The bishop of the diocese, Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz, thanked the Patriarch for his presence and for his historical consecration of the monastery. He said about His Holiness: ‘The star of the East, through which all feasts and celebrations become complete, has come to us’, and he spoke in appreciation of his life’s work for the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The newly consecrated Monastery of Mor Jacob of Sarug in the Westfalian city of Warburg was bought from the Dominicans of the province of ‘Teutonia’ on 28th of August 1996 by the Syriac Orthodox Church in Middle Europe for DM 1.9 million. Its interior was renovated to enlarge the rooms. The monastery has a church seating 400, 2 chapels, 66 furnished rooms, a large library area with reading and teaching rooms, 2 conference rooms, a refectory, a large communal kitchen, the bishop’s administrative office, many visitor’s rooms and a large garden. The total surface area of the monastery is 22,456 m2. The founding of the monastery, which has had several periods of building, dates back to the end of the 12th century. The current façade dates from the beginning of the 20th century. The interior was renovated in 1955-56. Since the founding of the new diocese of Germany in 1997, the monastery has been the residence of the diocesan bishop Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz. In 1998, a theological seminary was founded here with 25 seminarians who are taught Syriac theology by the 3 monks and other teachers. There are 43 parishes in the Syriac Orthodox diocese of Germany, with 28 church buildings and around 60,000 Syriac Orthodox faithful. Full Story in SOLNews (English · German)

Source: Suryoyo-Online News

St. Mary's Monastery in Tel Wardiat, Syria Consecrated

August 15, 2000

Dayro d-Mort Maryam, Tel Wardiat

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated the new monastery of St Mary in Tel Wardiat (near Hassake, Syria). The monastery was build under the supervision of Mor Eustathius Matta Roham, Archbishop of al-Jezira and the Euphrates. The foundation stone was laid on April 23, 1993 and construction began on September 8, 1993. The monastery has a church that can accomodate 200 people, a conference hall for 250 people, a library for Syriac and Arabic manuscripts, a computer center, a book shop for religious books, a reception hall, three classrooms, a kitchen and dining hall, and twenty nine bedrooms with bathrooms. Over 15,000 people attended the impressive celebration. Among them were many Syriac Orthodox bishops from Turkey, Lebanon, Europe and the USA. The Syrian national TV covered the occasion.

Sources: News Report by Rev. Ynte de Groot (in Dutch); Dayro Web pages

Mor Ostatheos Thomas Passes Away

July 30, 2000

Mor Ostatheos Thomas, Late Bishop of Cochin

The senior bishop of the Cochin diocese of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, H.G. Dr. Mor Ostatheos Thomas, passed away at 1:15 pm on July 28th. The bishop was 96. Mor Ostatheos had suffered cardiac arrest on July 25th and had been hospitalized since. The body of the late bishop was carried in a funeral procession from Ernakulam to Thiruvankulam stopping at the Elamkulam St. Mary's Sunoro Church, Tripunithura Nadamel St. Mary's and Karingachira St. George's Church. Funeral rites at the Qyomta Chapel in the diocesan headquarters at Thiruvankulam were presided by H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas, H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham, H.E. Mor Gregorius Joseph and H.G. Mor Ostatheos Benyamin.

Mor Ostatheos was born to Seetharkuzhi Puthenpurayil Mathai and Annamma of the Panthalumakkil family of Koothattukulam and was named C.M. Thomas. He was schooled at Kottayam M.D. Seminary and Tiruvalla MGM school and completed his college education at the Kottayam CMS College, Changanacherry SB College, and Trivandrum Maharajas Training College. Ordained korooyo at age 9 by late Malankara Metropolitan Mor Koorilose Paulos, Thomas underwent theological training at Pampakuda seminary. Late Patriarchal Delegate Mor Yulius Elias Qoro ordained him priest and appointed him to serve the St. Mathias Church at Madras. Later, Fr. Thomas served as headmaster of schools at Keerampara and Vadakara and helped in establishing the Marian school at Madras. Fr. Thomas was consecrated bishop by late Patriarch Mor Ya`qub III in 1975 and served the Kandanad and Kottayam dioceses assisting late Catholicos Mor Baselius Paulose II until 1982. In 1982, the Holy Synod held at Cochin presided by Patriarch Mor Zakka I on his first apostolic visit to Malankara appointed Mor Ostatheos the bishop of Cochin. The bishop was instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Cochin diocese and in the construction of the diocesan headquarters at Thiruvankulam. He was an avid reader and dedicated to learning, all through his life. In 1994, Mor Ostatheos retired from active administration of the diocese following the consecration of his assistant, H.G. Mor Gregorius Joseph.

His Holiness returns to Damascus from Malankara

April 11, 2000

The Patriarch departing from Nedumbassery

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas returned from Nedumbassery to Damascus today via Mumbai. Earlier in the morning, His Holiness and the metropolitans left the theological seminary at Udayagiri and arrived at the Akaparambu Mar Shabor Aphroth Church where they were given a royal reception. After leading lenten prayers, His Holiness addressed the gathering there and expressed his gladness in visiting the birthplace and parish church of the late Malankara Metropolitan Mor Athanasius Paulose. A large gathering lead by the metropolitans of the Malankara Church assembled at the Nedumbassery International Airport to see off the beloved Patriarch and the metropolitans who accompanied him. The Patriarchal entourage left Nedumbassery on a Jet Airways flight at 11:45 am ending the brief but eventful apostolic visit to Malankara.

On arriving at Mumbai Santacruz airport at 1 pm, the Patriarch proceeded to Hotel Sun-N-Sand at Juhu. At 6:30 pm, His Holiness and the accompanying metropolitans were taken to Shanmukhananda Hall at Sion (the largest hall in Asia) in a convoy of about 100 cars, lead by a pilot jeep bearing the patriarchal flag. The Patriarch was received into the hall by priests, and laity with lit candles while the choir chanted the hymn 'Tobo shlom'. Following vespers, H.G Mor Themotheos Thomas welcomed His Holiness. The Patriarch exhorted all to be good citizens of India and to uphold the doctrines of true Christian faith. His Holiness and metropolitans retired to Hotel Sun-N-Sand at Juhu and left for Damascus on April 11th at 7:30 am via Dubai.

Source: Sabu P. Kuriakose <> (News from Mumbai)

The Patriarch offers Holy Qurbono at Chingavanam, Addresses Gathering in Puthenkurishu

April 10, 2000

The Patriarch at Puthenkurishu

The Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas offered Holy Qurbono at specially erected altar at the Mar Aphrem Dayro, Chingavanam, near Kottayam today assisted by sixteen metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Following felicitations to H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham on the episcopal golden jubilee, His Holiness addressed a large gathering of people at the Patriarchal Center of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, Puthenkurishu. Enroute to Puthenkurishu, the Patriarch offered prayers of incense at the tomb of late metropolitan, H.G. Mor Gregorios Gheevarghese at Perumpilly. The Patriarchal entourage retired to the theological seminary at Udayagiri for the night. Full Story.

His Holiness Presides at Jubilee Celebrations

April 9, 2000

The Patriarch with H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham The Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas presided over the golden jubilee celebrations of episcopal consecration of the Knanaya Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan, Qooberneeyto Hakeemo H.G. Mor Clemis Abraham at Kottayam today. Multitudes of faithful gathered at the Nehru Stadium, Kottayam for the occasion. Earlier in the morning, His Holiness visited the Mor Ignatios Dayro at Manjinikkara to pay respects at the tomb of late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias III. Full Story.

The Patriarch arrives in Malankara

April 8, 2000

The Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas arrived at Nedumbassery airport in Kerala, India from Mumbai on April 7th at 2:05 pm. His Holiness was accorded a tumultous welcome at the airport where he addressed and blessed the gathering. His Holiness proceeded to Chingavanam, making an unscheduled stop enroute at Malekurishu to pay his respects at the tomb of late Catholicos Baselius Paulose II. The Patriarch arrived at Chingavanam at 6:55 pm. Full Story.

The Holy Synod approves the name "Syriac Orthodox Church"

April 3, 2000

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, convened a general Synodal session for the Church in the Middle East and its diaspora between March 28 and April 3, 2000 at Ma'arat Saydnaya, near Damascus. Opening the Synod, the Patriarch exhorted the Holy Synod to consider the future of the church in the new millennium. The Holy Synod approved the use of the name "Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch" in English and called for the adoption of the name in course of time. The Synod discussed various issues pertaining to the development of the Church and constituted a number of committees pertaining to various spheres of the Church's activity. Full Story.

Source: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

The Patriarch offers Holy Qurbono at Antioch

April 2, 2000

On April 2, 2000, the Patriarch of Antioch, H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, celebrated the liturgy of the divine mysteries at the first church of Antioch, established by St. Peter in AD 37. This is a historic event in the annals of the Syrian Orthodox Church, being the first time since the sixth century AD that the Patriarch has been able to offer Holy Qurbono along with the Holy Synod at the mother church of Antiochene Christianity. Several hundreds of faithful including priests and monks from Syria and Turkey participated in the liturgy. Full Story.

Source: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

Voices of the Middle East Interviews the Patriarch on Ecumenism

March 13, 2000

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East was interviewed by Mrs. Mahât Farah al-Khoury of the Voices of the Middle East on his views on ecumenism. Noting that the fathers of the Syriac tradition have taught that division in the Church is a grave sin, the Patriarch stated that the Syrian Orthodox Church has always promoted ecumenical unity. The best way to achieve Christian unity is to exhibit the grace of Christian love. The Patriarch enumerated the various steps towards ecumenical unity taken by the Church in recent years. His Holiness is the Honorary President of the Middle Eastern Council of Churches. At the 8th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Harare, Zimbabwe, he was also elected a president of the ecumenical body. Transcript on Suryoyo Online News.

The Patriarch Hosts Delegates Meeting

March 6, 2000

H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas hosted a meeting of the Delegates of the Orthodox and Protestant Churches at St. Aphrem Theological Seminary Ma'arrat Seyednaya Damascus, on March 6, 2000. Addressing the delegates as "peace-makers", His Holiness urged them to work together to attain the very noble goal of preparing the people of the different Churches for better mutual understanding. Noting cultural differences and other obstacles to unity, the Patriarch exhorted them to focus on what unites the different churches--the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the acceptance of Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and belief in eternal life through Him. Full Story.

Joint Encyclical from US Archbishops on Census-2000

February 20, 2000

The Patriarchal Vicars of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the United States have issued a joint encyclical requesting members of the Church residing in the U.S. to submit the US Census-2000 forms registering themselves under the category "Syriac", rather than the name of country of origin. Registering under this category will help ensure that the community meets the minimum numbers required to ensure appropriate federal assistance that is available to such communities in the US. The Archbishops point out that the category should be spelled correctly as "Syriac" and not "Syrian" since the latter would indicate a national of Syrian Arab Republic. Full Story.

Thirty-Eighth Annual Archdiocesan Convention of the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United States

February 12, 2000

The thirty-eighth annual Archdiocesan Convention of the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United States will be held at the Marriot in Portland, Oregon, from July 26, 2000 to July 30, 2000. The convention will be hosted by St. Ignatius Church, Portland. H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I will lead the event. A general review of the past 50 years of history of the church in North America is planned during the convention in order to identify and cement the strengths and work on improving weaknesses. In addition to a spiritual and cultural festival, a cruise on the Columbia River, a bus trip to Cascade Range, etc. are planned. Event Schedule.

Source: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance to Visit Turkey

November 3, 1999

According to the United Nations Press Release HR/99/101 dated November 3, 1999, the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance of the Commission on Human Rights, Abdelfattah Amor, will visit Turkey from 1 to 9 December 1999. During the visit, which comes at the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur will visit Ankara, Istanbul, and Turabdin (Midyat and Mardin). Mr. Amor will meet with officials of relevant organizations, members of the clergy, representatives of religious minorities, non-governmental organizations and individuals who may wish to testify in their personal capacity.

The visit to Turkey will take place within the framework of the Special Rapporteur's mandate to promote and protect freedom of religious belief in the light of the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

Mr. Amor, who has been Special Rapporteur since 1993, is Emeritus Dean of the Faculty of Juridical, Political and Social Sciences at Tunis and President of the International Academy of Constitutional Law.


Dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox & Syrian Catholic Churches

November 2, 1999

The Syrian Episcopal Joint Committee held its first meeting in the Monastery of our Lady of Deliverance-Sharfeh, Harisa, Tuesday November 2, 1999. The meeting was presided jointly by His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Iwas, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, and His Beatitude Mor Ignatius Moussa I, Da'oud, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrian Catholics. Full Story.

Symposium on Patriarch Michael the Great hosted at Damascus

October 8, 1999

Damascus. The 800th anniversary of the passing away of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and scholar Mor Michael the Syrian was commemorated at an international symposium convened by H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and H.E. Metropolitan Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan of Aleppo.

The Symposium convened at the Patriarchate's new educational facility, St. Ephrem Theological Seminary, at Ma'arat Saydnaya outside Damascus, Oct 1-8 1999. About 20 scholars from Belgium, England, Germany, Lebanon, Syrian and the United States delivered papers on a variety of topics related to the great historical chronicle produced in the 12th century by Mor Michael. Full Story.

Source: Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarzi, Ph.D.

Edessan Syrian Orthodox Pilgrims visit the Mandylion of Christ

September 30, 1999

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the forced mass-exodus of the Syrian Orthodox people of Edessa (Urhoy or Urfa), H.E. Mor Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of Aleppo, lead a group of 56 on a pilgrimage to the Mandylion of Christ, now in Genova, Italy, and brought an exact replica of it to St. George's Church at Aleppo. The Mandylion, a gift from our Lord Jesus Christ to the Syrian Edessan delegation, was with the Edessan Syrian Orthodox, and was kept in a church in Edessa until the year 943 AD when the Crusaders stole it and took it to Constantinople from where it was later brought to Genova.

The pilgrims visited the church of St. Bartholomew in Genova, where where the Mandylion is kept since the 15th century. The Mandylion was solemnly carried amid Syriac hymns to the altar area of St. Bartholomew Church, Genova, and placed on the beema. H.E. Mor Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim celebrated the Holy Liturgy assisted by V. Rev. Paul Kouli in the St. Bartholomew Church, Genova. Later, the pilgrims visited the Vatican and had an audience with H.H. Pope John Paul II. The Pope welcomed the delegation, blessed the replica of the Mandylion. Full Story.

Source: Very Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarzi, Ph.D.

Synodal Session

October 4, 1999

On Friday, August 13, 1999, His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, convened a Synodal Session which took place at St. Ephrem's Monastery in Maarat Saydnaya. The session was presided over by H.H the Patriarch and attended by H.E. Mor Athanasius Afram of Beirut, Mor Gregorious Yuhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, Mor Theophilos George Saliba of Mount Lebanon, Mor Ostatheos Matta Rohom of the Jazireh and the Euphrates, and Mor Ivanios Boulos Assouqi of Damascus. Full Story.

The Patriarch at the WCC Central Committee Meeting

September 14, 1999

The Patriarch of Antioch, H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas attended the meetings of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Geneva in his capacity as one of the presidents of the WCC. This was the first official meeting of the Central Committee elected at the Harare Assembly in December 1998. Prior to the Central Committee meeting H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Eastern US Archdiocese, attended the meetings of the Executive Committee, consisting of the Officers (General Secretary, Moderator and two Vice-Moderators) and twenty-four Central Committee members. The main points of discussion were: Evaluation of the Harare Assembly, Building the WCC agenda for the next seven years, and the launching of the "Decade to Overcome Violence". On behalf of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Mor Kyrillos extended an invitation to the Executive Committee to hold its meeting in September 2000 at the St. Aphrem Theological Seminary in Ma'arat Saydnaya-Damascus. This will be the first time that a high ranking committee of the WCC meets in the Middle-East.

H.E. Mor Cyril offers sympathies to the Turks

September 14, 1999

Archbishop H.E. Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, the Patriarchal Vicar of the Eastern US Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church visited the Turkish Consulate in US on Tuesday, September 14th at 11:30 am. Three priests and a few lay people accompanied His Eminence to offer sympathy to the Turkish people and government on the recent tragic earthquake. A contribution was made to the relief work for the suffering people of Turkey from a collection raised on Sunday, September 12th, from all parishes of the Archdiocese.

Patriarch Faction Eager for Peace: H.G. Mor Dionysius Thomas

September 7, 1999

The President of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church Synod (Patriarch Faction), His Grace Mor Dionysius Thomas, reiterated the eagerness of the Patriarch faction to bring about an end to the schism in the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church and achieve peace and unity. On June 20, 1995, after about 25 years of litigation initiated by the Catholicos faction, the Honorable Supreme Court of India pronounced its final verdict. Lasting peace can be achieved only on the basis of this verdict, the Metropolitan said. His Grace issued a statement prior to his departure from the United States to India on September 7, 1999, which explains his view of the current stalemate in the negotiations for peace with the Catholicos faction and suggests ways to break the stalemate. Text of the Statement.

Precincts of Dayro d-Mor Matay Bombed

Aug 11, 1999

Mor Matay Monastery

The Iraqi News Agency reports that the precincts of the Syrian Orthodox monastery, Dayro d-Mor Matay (St. Matthew's Monastery) in Mosul, Iraq, was bombed by U.S. and British planes early today. The 4th century monastery, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, is one of the most ancient in Christendom and was the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Maphrian of the East and the burial place of one of the most famous Syrian Orthodox Maphryonos of the East, Gregorius Abul Faraj Bar `Ebroyo. It is not evident from the news reports whether the monastery was directly hit.

According to the news agency, three missiles were fired, and "Several people were killed and many others wounded," though no precise figures were given.

"The Electronic Telegraph" confirmed attacks in the northern and southern "no-fly" zones. The targets near Mosul, according to the military, were two military communications sites, which had opened fire on them during a routine patrol of the area. The Iraqi News Agency also noted that "Iraqi anti-aircraft guns opened fire at the planes, forcing them to flee back to their bases."

Located at the top of the famous Alfaf Mountain, the monastery overlooks the magnificent fields of the Nineveh plains. The eponymous founder of the monastery, Mor Matay is believed to have been morn in Amid, South Eastern Turkey who fled to the Alfaf mountain from the persecution of Julianis in 361 AD. The monastery has over 50 rooms, 3 halls for gathering, a church, and a saints' room (Beth Qadisheh) where remains of saints Mor Matay, Mor Zakka, Mor Abraham, Maphryono Bar `Ebroyo among others are interred.

Source: Zenit

Ecumenical Meeting at Linköping, Sweden

July 16, 1999

An ecumenical meeting between the Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Lutheran and Free-Church will take place in Linköping, Sweden between August 4-8, 1999. The Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III, Armenian Catholicos Aram of the Holy See of Cilicia and Queen Silvia of Sweden will attend. In addition, it is hoped that Kofi Annan, the Secretrary General of UN, and the Syrian Orthodox bishop Diyoskoros of Sweden will attend. Information about the event can be found at

The Patriarch consecrates Mor Awgen Monastery

June 20, 1999

Mor Awgen MonasteryThe Patriarch of Antioch, H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated the Mor Awgen monastery in Arth, Switzerland on June 20, 1999. The monastery building, originally a Capuchin monastery founded in 1665, was acquired in 1996 by His Eminence Mor Yulius Yeshu` Cicek, Archbishop of the Central Europe diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church. The consecration ceremony was attended by over 5000 Syrian Orthodox Christians from all over Europe, Turkey and some Arab Countries. Eight Archbishops, over 50 priests and delegates from other churches participated in the event. Mor Awgen is the third monastery established by the Syrian Orthodox Church in Europe. Full Story

Very Rev. Fr. George Kocheril Passes Away

June 20, 1999

Very Rev. Fr. George P. Kocheril, Ph.D. passed away in his sleep late night on June 16, 1999. He was 69. Fr. Kocheril was the vicar of the Manhattan-Lindbrook St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox (Malankara) Church and had served as the secretary for Malankara churches in the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America. Fr. Kocheril was born to Paulose and Susan in Pallikkara, Ernakulam District, Kerala on November 15, 1929. He was ordained deacon in 1954. In 1960, late Mor Gregoris Gheevarghese of Ankamali diocese ordained him to priesthood. He was ordained Chor Episcopus in 1987. After serving four years as a Professor of Physics at the Union Christian College, Alwaye, Fr. George migrated to the United States in 1966 to enroll in the Ph.D. program in Nuclear Physics at the St. Louis University. After completing his Ph.D., he served on the faculty of St. Louis University and Maritime College as Professor of Nuclear Physics and a radiation physicist at the New York Methodist Hospital. He has authored books on radiation physics. Fr. Kocheril made significant contributions to the growth of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in the United States in various capacities. He also served as the President of the St. Thomas Ecumenical Association of New York. He is survived by his wife, Mary, daughter Susan, and sons Dr. Abraham G. Kocheril and Dr. Paul G. Kocheril. The funeral services were held at the St. Mary's Church, Lindbrook and the burial at Long Island Pine Lawn cemetry on June 19th.

The Rev. Fr. Tarzi, Ph.D. Ordained Chor Episocpus

May 30, 1999

Very Rev. Joseph Tarzi

On May 30, 1999, the Rev. Fr. Joseph Tarzi, Ph.D., Vicar of the St. Ephraim Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, Burbank, California, was ordained Chor Episcopus by Archbishop H.E. Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, Patriarchal Vicar of the Archdiocese of the Western United States. The ordination ceremony was held at noon on the Sunday of Pentecost at the St. Ephraim's Cathedral, Burbank. Fr. Tarzi has been the vicar of St. Ephraim's since 1986. He has authored and translated numerous articles on theology, history, Syriac Studies, Syriac poetry and literature. The Rev. Tarzi has served on the Advisory Board of the Syrian Orthodox Resources since its inception.

Orthodox Bishops in California Issue Joint Statement on Kosovo

April 21, 1999

The Orthodox Bishops of Southern California issued a joint statement on the Kosovo crisis appealing to NATO to cease the military campaign and return to the arduous work of negotiation and bargaining. Full Story.

Synodal Session at Saydnaya

March 11, 1999

On Thursday, March 11, 1999, H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, summoned their Eminences the Metropolitans of Syria and Lebanon to a meeting at St. Ephrem Monastery, Saydnaya for Synodal session. The session was attended by Mor Athansius Aphrem Barsoum, Metropolitan of Beirut and Zahle, Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Metropolitan of Aleppo, Mor Theophilus George Saliba, Metropolitan of Mount Lebanon, and Mor Ostatheos Matta Rohom, Metropolitan of Jazirah and Euphrates who attended in their capacity as members of the Central and Preparatory Committee for the celebrations of the Millennial Jubilee of the Lord's nativity in flesh and the Universal Syrian Orthodox Convention. The 7th General Assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches in Lebanon, April 27-30, 1999, the eight hundredth anniversary of the passing away of Patriarch Mor Michael the Great, the celebrations of the 2nd millenium jubilee and a congratulatory message to the Syrian president Hafez Al-Asad on the occasion of taking the Constitutional Oath were discussed at the Synodal session. Subsequently, on March 14th, His Holiness published an encyclical commemorating the eight hundredth anniversary of departure of Patriarch Mor Michael the Great. Full Story.

H.G. Mor Gregorius Geewargis Laid to Eternal Rest

February 23, 1999

Mor Gregorius Geewargis

The metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Diocese of Kottayam and the President of the Synod of the Malankara Church, His Grace Mor Gregorius Geewargis, entered into eternal rest on Feb 22, 1999 at 8:20 pm. The mortal remains of Mor Gregorius were brought to the Perumpilly St. George Simhasana Church and entombed in the sanctuary of the church at 5:30 pm on February 23rd. Ordained bishop on February 24, 1974, by late Patriarch Mor Ignatius Ya`qub III, Mor Gregorious was the metropolitan of the Cochin diocese with additional responsibility for the Kottayam diocese. In 1982, he became the metropolitan of the Kottayam diocese. Following the passing away of late Catholicos Mor Baselius Paulose II, Mor Gregorius assumed the leadership of the church and presided over the synod of the Malankara church. Since the passing away of Mor Gregorius, Metropolitan Mor Dionysius Thomas has been nominated to preside over the Synod in Malankara and Mor Timotheus Thomas has assumed the spiritual care of the archdioceses of Kottayam and Quilon, Niranam and Thumpamon. Full Story.

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Middle-East Orthodox Leaders Meet in Damascus

February 12, 1999

The leaders of the Middle-East Orthodox (non-Chalcedonian) Church leaders met from Wednesday, February 10 to Friday, February 12 at the Syrian Orthodox Monastery of St. Ephrem, in Ma'rat Seydnayah. Taking part in the third meeting of its kind were Patriarch Shenouda III of the Coptic Church, Patriarch Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia. The last meeting between the church leaders took place last March in Egypt and the next such gathering is scheduled to take place in Antelias.

Istanbul Mayor Hosts Meeting with Religous Minority Leaders

January 29, 1999

Mayor Ali Mufit Gurtuna held an unprecedented breakfast meeting in Istanbul on Thursday, January 28, 1999, with religious leaders of the Greek, Armenian, Jewish minorities and the heads of Catholic and Syrian Orthodox churches. The breakfast meeting, held in honor of the religious leaders, was held at the Malta Kiosk in Yildiz Park. "If we look at differences as nature's mosaic, we will see a great deal," Gurtuna told the religious leaders. Participating at the meeting were Orthodox Church Patriarch Bartholomew, the head of Turkey's 4,000-member Greek community, Armenian Church Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan, head of the 60,000-strong Armenian Gregorian community in Turkey, Isak Haleva, acting chief rabbi of the 25,000-member Jewish community; Yusuf Cetin, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Church and bishop of 15,000 Syrian Orthodox Turks, and Lui Pelatra, head of the holy synod of Catholic communities of Turkey. The country has about 40,000 Catholics of Roman, Greek, Armenian, Syrian and Chaldean rites, which are in union with the Vatican. Patriarch Bartholomew said the meeting was unprecedented. "In truth, we are unaccustomed to such kinds of gestures," the Orthodox Church prelate said.

Patriarch Zakka Hosts Dialogue amongst Oriental Orthodox Churches

January 15, 1999

About 13 representatives from the Oriental Orthodox Churches and World Alliance of Reformed Churches gathered in the St. Ephrem Syrian Orthodox Seminary, in Damascus-Syria, from Jan. 9 to 15, in response to an invitation by His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church, to attend the fifth session of its bilateral dialogue and to discuss the topic of "Priesthood in the Church". H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I welcomed the participants. Following the presentations, a report was prepared by the participants reflecting the conclusions from the presentation. It was decided to hold the sixth session of this Conference in Scotland from January 11 to 15, 2000.

Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Archbishops of Western U.S. Meet

January 15, 1999

On Friday, Jan. 8, Bishop Mardirossian hosted the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, who was accompanied by Rev. Dr. Joseph Tarzi. The Syrian Orthodox Church leaders were greeted at the Prelacy entrance by Rev. Father Krikor Chiftdjian, Rev. Nareg Pehlivanian and Rev. Vazken Atmadjian, who escorted the guests to the Prelacy meeting hall where Bishop Mardirossian awaited their arrival. The two leaders exchanged holiday greetings with Bishop Mardirossian. The two leaders engaged in discussions about the spiritual and social concerns of their communities. Archbishop Kaplan congratulated Catholicos Aram I on his election as Moderator of the World Council of Churches.

Bishop Mardirossian and Rev. Atmadjian, in return, visited the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop at Burbank on Thursday, Jan 14. The two leaders reiterated the importance of cooperation between the two churches.

Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka elected to the WCC Presidium

December 14, 1998

The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas was elected as one of the eight presidents of the World Council of Churches, representing the Middle-East, by the eighth assembly of the Council in Harare, Zimbabwe. The eighth assembly was held at the University of Zimbabwe December 3-14, 1998. His Holiness will serve as a President of the Council until the ninth assembly in 2005. The Patriarchal Vicar of the East U.S. Archdiocese Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim was elected as an Executive Member of the WCC.

Dr. Sebastian Brock Honored

November, 1998

The Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas honored Dr. Sebastian Brock, Professor of Syriac, Aramaic and Hebrew Studies at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University with the medal of Mor Ephrem the Syrian at the St. Ephrem Syrian Orthodox Seminary in Ma'rrat Saydnaya, Damascus. Dr. Brock is widely renowned as one of the most eminent Syriac Studies scholars and has published innumerable books and papers in Syriac Studies.

Oriental Orthodox Concelebration of the Divine Liturgy

October 17, 1998

Teaneck, NJ. An Oriental Orthodox concelebration of the Divine Liturgy with the participation of the hierarchy, clergy, deacons and choirs of the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Malankara and Syrian Archdioceses was held in the morning of Saturday, October 17, 1998 at St. Mark's Syrian Orthodox Cathedral, 260 Elm Avenue, Teaneck, New Jersey.

The principal celebrants were His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, of the Armenian Diocese of the Eastern United States; H.E. Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria; H.E. Mor Cyril Ephrem Karim, archbishop and patriarchal vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Eastern United States; H.E. Archbishop Matthias, of the Ethiopian Archdiocese of North America; and H.G. Bishop Suriel of the Coptic Diocese of North America. Full Story.

Oriental Orthodox Archbishops attend a session of Fall SCOBA

October 14, 1998

The Primates of the Oriental Orthodox Churches--the Armenian, Syrian, Ethiopian and Coptic Churches--attended a session of the Fall meeting of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) convened by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and SCOBA Chairman, on Tuesday, October 13th, at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. In attendance were Archbishop Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America; Archbishop Ephraim Karim, Primate of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America; and Bishop Suriel of the Coptic Orthodox Church. These hierarchs joined the SCOBA hierarchs for a formal luncheon. The Oriental Orthodox Church leaders had requested to initiate closer and more formal ties between their communities and those of the Orthodox. This process is expected to be twofold. First, there is a desire in these communities for improved relations between the Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Americas reflecting the status of the international consultations carried on worldwide. Additionally, there is a mutual desire for common approaches and solutions to the contemporary problems of our communities.

Source: Archdiocesan Press Release, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

Holy Synod Meets at Ma'rrat Saydnaya

October 12, 1998

Ma'arrat Saydnaya, Syria. The Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church presided by His Holiness Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I convened at the Monastery of St. Ephraim the Syrian in Ma'arrat Saydnaya between September 22 and 26, 1998. The agenda was focused on three major items: the Constitution of the Church, the Unified By-laws of the Parish Councils, and the Personal Status Law Amendments. In addition, the 800th anniversary of the passing away of Patriarch Michael the Great, the 2000th Jubilee of the Incarnation of the Lord and the International Syrian Convention, the revival of the Council of the Ancient Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East (Syrians, Copts and Armenians), fixed date for celebration of Easter, etc., were discussed at the Synod. Full Story.

Source: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America hosts Armenian and Syrian Archbishops

October 9, 1998

New York, NY. His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, met with leaders of the Armenian and Syrian Churches on October 8th at the Archdiocese. The Syrian Church was represented by His Eminence Archbishop Ephraim Karim, Primate of the Eastern US Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church, accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Primate of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in Aleppo, Syria, and the V. Rev. Chorepiscopos John Meno, the Eastern US Archdiocesan secretary. Representing the Armenian Church was His Eminence Archbishop Barsamian, Primate of Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America, accompanied by Ecumenical Officer Father Garabed Kochakian.

The cordial discussions centered on the desire of the Primates to further cooperation and improve communications among the Orthodox Churches and the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Churches. To that end, a steering committee will be appointed to continue discussions. Bishop Dimitirios of Xanthos, Ecumenical Officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, will represent the Orthodox Churches on the Committee. Additionally, the leaders discussed the implementation of international agreements at the local level.

His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon invited the hierarchs of the four Churches to visit at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA) on Tuesday, October 13th at the Archdiocese, and to join the SCOBA hierarchs for lunch following the meetings.

Source: Archdiocesan Press Release, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

Thirty-Sixth Annual Archdiocesan Convention of the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United States

August 2, 1998

Montreal, Canada. The thirty-sixth annual Archdiocesan Convention of the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in Canada and United States was held in Montreal from July 29, 1998 to August 2nd, 1998. The convention was hosted by St. Jacques Church at the Sherton-Laval Hotel. The convention was addressed by H.H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I. Full Story.

Source: Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan

Second Round of Dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East

March 2, 1998

Annaya, Lebanon. In continuation of the official dialogue between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East which was begun in 1988 a second dialogue was initiated with the blessings and the presence of both their holinesses Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East for the purpose of bringing rapprochement between the two sister churches of the same Syriac tradition. The dialogue commission convened in sessions parallel to the meetings of Pro Oriente's permanent commission of churches of the Syriac tradition on Monday, 2 March 1998, at Saint Mar Maron Monastery in Annaya, Lebanon. The meeting was opened with a prayer; and the participants deliberated the fundamental issues upon which this dialogue could to be based, and the general theological and cultural objectives which shall bring the two sister churches closer. Full Story.

Patriarch consecrates Mor Ya`qub Burd`ono Church in Melbourne and St. Thomas Church in Wollongong, Australia

Mor Ya`qub Burdono Church

January 19, 1998

Melbourne, Australia. H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I consecrated the Mor Ya`qub Burd`ono Church in Melbourne, Australia on January 4, 1998. This is the first church consecrated by His Holiness in Australia.

His Holiness arrived in Melbourne on January 3rd, 1998, accompanied by the Patriarch Vicar, H.E. Archbishop Mor Severius Isaac Saka and the Patriarchal Secretaries, Very Rev. Raban Kuriakose and Very Rev. Raban Elia Bahi. Receptions were held in honor of His Holiness at the airport and later at Ya`qub Burd`ono Church. On the 4th, following the consecration, the Patriarch celebrated the Holy Qurbono and unveiled a plaque at the entrance of the Church that records the memorable occasion. Later the Australian television news channel SBS broadcasted an interview with His Holiness on the World News. Full Story.

On Friday, January 16th, 1998, the Syrian Orthodox Community in Sydney held a reception in honour of the Patriarch, attended by about 250 people. On Saturday, January 17th, 1998 and during the Holy Mass that was held at St. Ephraim's Church in Sydney, Rev. Fr. Zeki Zeitoun was decorated with the Holy Cross, and several of the Church's deacons of various orders were ordained.

Wollongong, Australia. On Sunday, January 18th, His Holiness consecrated the St. Thomas Church in Wollongong, NSW. This is a small parish of 12 families. Rev. Fr. Abdulahad Zeitoun was announced as the priest for the parish.

His Holiness and the accompanying delegation left Australia for Damascus on January 19th, 1998.

Source: Touma Issa <>

The Syrian Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East in Second Round of Dialogues

January 8, 1998

The October 1997 issue of the Patriarchal Journal reports that H.H. Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas the First, Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, has appointed bishop Youhannon Ibrahim of Aleppo, and bishop Afram Karim of the Eastern U.S.A., as delegates to bilateral talks with the Assyrian Church of the East. Bishops Ibrahim and Karim, together, with bishop Afram Abboudy of Canada, held a meeting, the article says, with H.H. Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. The meeting took place in Chicago, but no date was given.

The willingness of the Assyrian Church of the East to open a dialogue with the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch is considered a major breakthrough in the history of the two Churches. The schism between the two Churches date back to the fifth century and resulted from the Christological controversies of the time. Though the relationships between the two Churches have been colored by suspicion and antagonism, the followers of the two Churches have much in common, among which is the Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic.

Delegates appointed by the heads of both churches will meet officially for the first time in Beirut (on 4 & 5 February 1998). A possible outcome of the first meeting would be the formulation of a 'Common Christological Statement'. Full Story.

Source: Gabriel M. Sawma <>

Patriarch consecrates St. Mary's Church in Sharjah, UAE

November 28, 1997

Sharjah, UAE. H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I consecrated the St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Sharjah on November 28, 1997. This is the only church wholly owned by the Syrian Orthodox Church in the United Arab Emirates. The church was built by Syrian Orthodox Christians from Malankara on the land donated by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi who is the Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

His Holiness arrived in Sharjah on 26th of November 97. The first part of the consecration started at 7 P.M. (U.A.E Time) on 27th November 97, and the second part continued to and concluded on the 28th November 97.

Source: Geevarghese V. Mani <>

International Conference on the Influence of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

November 20, 1997

The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London hosted a conference on Saint Ephrem the Syrian during December 17-18, 1997. Scholars from different parts of the world including Archbishop Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church participated the conference. Selected papers from the conference are published in the Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. Event Schedule.

Patriarch visits the Syrian Orthodox Resources Web Site

August 9, 1997

Burbank, California. His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I browsed the Syrian Orthodox Resources web site on Saturday, August 9, 1997 at Burbank, California. From 11 to 12 am, His Holiness viewed several pages from every section of the web site. The Archbishop of Central Europe, His Eminence Mor Yulius Cicek, and the Archbishop of the Western United States Patriarchal Vicarate, His Eminence Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, were with the Patriarch as His Holiness browsed the site. His Holiness was very impressed with the quality of the web site and signed the guestbook of the web site with a message of blessing. Full Story.

New Syrian Orthodox Diocese in Germany

May 18, 1997

Paderborn, Germany. On Sunday, May 18th, a new diocese was established to administer Syrian Orthodox churches in Germany. H.E. Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz (formerly Patriarchal Assistant) was enthroned as the bishop of Germany at the Mor Aho Church in Paderborn on the same day. The ceremony was officiated by the former Archbishop H.E. Mor Yulius Yeshu Cicek with the assistance of Mor Dioscoros Benyamen, Patriarchal Vikar of Sweden and in the presence of several Syrian Orthodox priests and thousands of faithful in Germany. Representatives of the German government and other German churches attended the ceremony. The new Archbishop's seat is not decided but it is likely to be at the Mor Ya`qub of Sarug's monastery in Warburg.

Conference on the 1600th Anniversary of Mor Gabriel Monastery

March 23, 1997

Hofgeismar, Germany. A conference on the Mor Gabriel monastery was held from March 21-23, 1997, at Hofgeismar in Germany, in connection with the 1600th anniversary of the monastery. About 120 participants attended the conference. Prof. W. Hage (University of Marburg, Germany) and Mor Yulius Yeshue Cicek, Archbishop of Central Europe were among the speakers at the conference. Full Story.

News Brief from Damascus

September 15, 1996

Damascus, Syria. On September 8th, H.H. Patriarch Zakka I consecrated Holy Mooron (Chrism) at Mor Gewargis Patriarchal Cathedral, Damascus. On September 13th, a new theological seminary was formally opened in Saydnaya, about 20 km west of Damascus. His Holiness celebrated the 16th anniversary of enthronement on September 14that the Patriarchal Cathedral. On September 15th, His Holiness ordained two bishops. Rabban Isa Gürbüz was ordained Mor Dionysius Isa Gürbüz and appointed the M'adrono Fatriarkhoyo (Patriarchal Assistant) at Damascus. Mor Dionysius succeeds Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan who became the Patriarchal Vicar of Western United States in April 1996. Rabban Malke was ordained Mor Severius Malke Mourad and appointed the Patriarchal Vicar of Holy Land & Jordan residing at St. Mark's Monastery, Jerusalem. Mor Severius succeeds Mor Dionysius Behnam Jajjawi who retired from the position in 1995. Full Story (in German)

Catholicos of the East Passed Away

Mor Baselious Paulose II

September 1, 1996

Puthenkurishu, Kerala. H. B. Catholicos Baselious Paulose II passed away on September 1, 1996. His Beatitude was the Catholicos of the East and the regional head of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church since 1975. The Catholicos was 82 at the time of his death. Tens of thousands attended the funeral at Malekurishu Deiro, Puthenkurishu, Kerala on September 2nd. Full Story. German Version.

Three Syrian Orthodox Christians Persecuted in Turkey

August 1, 1996

Mardin, Turkey. Three Syrian Orthodox Christians in Turkey's war-torn Mardin province have been kept under arrest since June 22 for allegedly assisting a member of the illegal Kurdistan Worker's Party. Such detention, the Syrian Christians said, was clearly aimed at further intimidation of the dwindling Syrian Christian community now reduced to fewer than 2000 in South East Turkey, where they numbered 50,000 just 15 years ago. Full Story

Death Penalty Ruled Out for Young Syrian Orthodox Christian

May 30, 1996

Istanbul, Turkey. The Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals today overturned the death penalty meted out 18 months ago to Onder, a young Syrian Orthodox Christian, ordering a retrial due to the defendant's age. Arrested at 17, Onder was one of eight defendants sentenced to death after being judged guilty of participating in a deadly firebomb attack by Kurdish separatists in Istanbul in December 1991. Onder maintains his innocence. He testified in court that he was attending Christmas day mass at his church during the violent attack and was arrested on a public bus in a general police sweep after the incident. Full Story

Related Stories:

  • Aug 28, 1996. Turkish prison authorities failed to produce Soner Onder before the Istanbul State Security Court today, forcing the court to postpone the Syrian Christian youth's retrial for another two months. Full Story
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