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The Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch held at St. Ephrem the Syrian Monastery, Ma‘arret Saydnaya/Damascus
At the previous meeting of the Holy Synod held on December 13, 2005, his holiness, our esteemed Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Iwas, along with their eminences, members of the Holy Synod, decided to hold the upcoming session of the Holy Synod on 9 – 13 October 2006.
Based upon, his holiness invited their eminences, members of the Holy Synod and they all attended.
On Tuesday October 10, 2006 at exactly 09:00 am the
Holy Synod started the meeting with prayers. His holiness welcomed their
eminences Mor Timotheos Mousa
Alshamani, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St.
Matthew monastery, and Mor Severius Hazail Soumi, Archbishop and
patriarchal vicar of
Then his holiness asked that prayers be raised for the soul of departed bishop Mor Dioscoros Luka Shaya retired bishop of St. Matthew monastery who passed away to heaven last month.
Then His Holiness addressed the Synod with spiritual
words starting by the Lord’s saying, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me . .
.”These days our hearts are troubled for lack of peace in the world and
in churches. The Church everywhere is threatened especially in
We are Syrian Orthodox Christians and we do not follow any western denomination, and we will not surrender any principle or doctrine that we got. No peace except with the Lord Jesus. On this base we are in a grace and repentance situation. As clergy we are asked not to harden our hearts in order our repentance be accepted and that is by keeping and implementing God’s commandments... For our hope is strengthened only by Jesus to whom we offer glory and thanks for ever and ever.
After his holiness finished his words, their eminences reviewed the minutes of the meeting and started the first session of this regular meeting, and they studied:
1 – Syrian Archdioceses
A ) Patriarchal Vicariate of
His Holiness said: After the Archdiocese of the
patriarchal vicariate of
His Holiness and members of the Holy Synod thanked the Episcopal committee for their hard work in clarifying the situation. His holiness then asked the members to give their opinions and views on said report. According to the constitution of the holy church and Synod, decision was taken by majority vote to divide the Archdiocese of Germany into three Archdioceses, patriarchal vicariates according to geographic and demographic distribution:
1 – Northern
2 – Mid –
3 – Southern
His Holiness will appoint the patriarchal vicariates for these Archdioceses according to church constitution. His Holiness will also work with the appointed Archbishops and people in responsibility to arrange location centers from which to administer these Archdioceses.
The Holy Synod discussed the situation in
His Holiness had previously sent an Episcopal
2 – Old Archdioceses - Adıyaman
Members of Holy Synod then moved to study the
situation of the Old Archdioceses in Adıyaman,
Harput, Elaziz, Gerger,
His eminence Mor Philoxenos Yusuf
Çetin, patriarchal vicar of
Upon a patriarchal order, his eminence had sent
Raban Malki Ürek in 2001
to Adıyaman to stay and live among our people
in the area and serve them directly, and to reside in
His eminence promised his cooperation and full
support to the Archdiocese and its bishop from
His holiness then asked the members of the Holy
Synod to give their input in that matter. There was a unanimous consent on
the necessity of a new Archdiocese especially to confirm the faithful who
would like to come back to their original Syrian Orthodox faith. A unanimous
vote was taken to establish a new Archdiocese called the Archdiocese of Adıyaman and includes the cities of Harput, Elaziz, Gerger,
His holiness nominated Father Raban Malki Ürek to become Archbishop, patriarchal vicar, for this new-old Archdiocese. It was agreed upon unanimously.
His holiness explained the situation of the church
4 – Other Matters
His holiness nominated Raban Mathias Nayis the head of St. Ephraim Theological Clergy School
in Ma’arrat Saidnaya
to become a bishop, second patriarchal assistant, to reside in St. Ephraim
monastery – M‘arrat Saydnaya,
and administer St. Ephraim Theological College in Ma’arrat
Saidnaya and supervise the endowments and
patriarchal charitable institutions in Atchaneh
5 – Patriarchal institutions in Atchaneh
After accepting the resignation of his eminence Metropolitan Mor Philoxenos Matta Shemun from his duties in administrating the patriarchal institutions in Atchaneh due to reaching retirement age, His Holiness handed over the management of said institutions to Fr. Raban Daniel Kourieh who attends to the needs of the orphanage and old age home, to be suitable and to the benefits of the church.
- St. Ephraim Theological College
His holiness and their eminences, members of the Holy Synod studied the suggestion submitted by Fr. Raban Mathias Nayis the principal of St. Ephraim Theological College in Ma’arrat Saidnaya, which included a study and explanation of College affaires with regards to rules of admission, most importantly :
1. Student should have completed high school.
2. Student should be between 17 – 23 years of age.
3. There should be coordination between their eminences Metropolitans of the Archdioceses and the administration of College under the auspices of his holiness our esteemed Patriarch. His holiness and members of the Holy Synod praised the report and urged all faithful to encourage their children to join St. Ephraim Theological College.
There was a lengthy discussion about monasticism and the role of monks in servicing monasteries and churches in different Archdioceses. According to the constitution of the church all monks/nuns affaires are directly linked to his holiness.
- Affaires of the
His holiness invited his eminence Mor
Athanasius Georgis the second patriarchal vicar of
In the report he stressed that the dissented enemies of the church are practicing all kinds of pressure and creating many problems to our church there by constantly contacting officials of government and in courts, thus disturbing the peace of our congregation.
We thank God for our church had won the case in
Kerala state court. It is now appealed to the high court in
It is worth mentioning that a noticeable renaissance is taking place among their eminences, clergy, Institutions, organizations and laity.
The Syrian Name in
His eminence Metropolitan Severius
Hawa stated that
His eminence Mor Severius
Malki Murad submitted a
report about the affaires of the Archdiocese of Jerusalem, Jordan and the
The Syrian Television (Suryoyo Sat)
His eminence Archbishop Benjamin Atas displayed a presentation and acknowledgment of
establishing a Syrian Television in
- Rituals and Church ranks
Members of the Holy Synod studied other matters like the clergy retirement, rituals, church ranks, and the necessity to register churches and endowments in the name of the Syrian Orthodox Church all over the world and to adjust the real estate registry wherever needed, and other matters.
- Final Session
His holiness ended the meeting by the following spiritual words :
We thank the Fathers, members of the Holy Synod who attended and participated in the activities of the Holy Synod. Each one expressed his views freely, responsibly, and in good conscience. Each suggested what was suitable for the progress and prosperity of the church.
In spite of the difficult circumstances and hard
times in our area in
We, as Christians, do not fear death because the parishioners of the Syrian Orthodox Church are the children of the martyrs. Our fathers gave us the ideal example for martyrdom. Blessed is he who leaves this world as a martyr of the faith.
His holiness continued saying :
We remember Rev. Fr. Poulos Iskandar
Behnam who departed this world as a martyr in the
His holiness concluded by praying for the church and its faithful, granting his apostolic blessings to the metropolitans, clergy, laity, and the whole world.
The Holy Synod had issued a statement soon after the martyrdom of Reverend Father Poulos Iskandar Behnam. It stated:
Declaration issued by the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
“During the sessions of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch held in Damascus under the patronage of His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Zakka I, Iwas, and the participation of the metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox Church worldwide, we were advised by heads of the Christian denominations in Iraq of the painful and most horrible news of the martyrdom of Reverend Father Poulos Iskandar Behnam, one of our priests in Mosul who was slain by extremist terrorists, an act that goes against all spiritual, ethical and humane values.
While our Holy Synod expresses the utmost sorrow
that this unspeakable shameful crime took place, which touches every noble
citizens of beloved Iraq, the Synod denounces this horrible deed and calls
upon the world (international) conscience represented by the decision makers
to put an end to the dreadful sufferings of the Iraqi people. We invite upon
all those in position of responsibility (authority), influence and leadership
to continue their diligent efforts in spreading peace and security, so that
the citizens (of
May God protect
Source & English translation: SOC-WUS