|Leaving Hakkari||Wilfred Bet-Alkhas|
|The Position of the Church of the East Theological Tradition
The Decision of the Holy Synod
An Open Letter to the Members of the Holy Synod
Support for Bishop Mar Bawai
Cleaning the House of God
|Mar Bawai Soro
Holy Synod of the Bishops
Mar Bawai Soro
|Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia Makes Offer on Frozen Apartment
Pope's Address to Chaldean Synod Participants in Vatican
Assyrian European Women Conference
Academic Conference on Seyfo Held in Sweden
Armenia's Constitutinoal Amendments & Assyrians
Hotel Owned by Turlock Civic Club to House Katrina Victims
Catholic Diocese May Sell NJ Church to Syriac Catholics
|Bishop Cicek - From Paulus to Saulus
Assyrian Politics: Does it Really Matter?
The Decision of the Holy Synod
The Chicken Thief of Habbaniya
2005 Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting
|A Letter to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV
A Black Day in the History of the Synod Meeting
| Ashur E. Peyour
|New Book in Armenian on Classical Syriac|
By any moral standard comprehending how the new Assyrian sees him/herself and how he/she is most likely to fit into and shape the Assyrian nation's future is a very difficult subject to tackle. The operative word here is "new".
The Assyrians - our readers in particular - are eager to express their ideas about the issues that matter to them. In receiving over 100 letters this week and over 3000 responses to our poll question, we found that Assyrians are almost desperate in their desire to talk about themselves, their leaders, their hopes and future.
Today's Assyrian is more advanced, better educated and yes - more sophisticated than his leaders in the Church or the political arena. For instance as regards to the story of the bishops of the Church of the East and the defiant bishop in California, the phenomenal public response against the decision of the patriarch of the Church of the East and his bishops against Mar Bawai Soro ends all argumentation about the apathy of the Assyrians. We have become a critic of our society, opponents of established values, both secular and religious.
As Assyrians, from childhood we are told to avoid politics and identification with a political party. Politics means alliance with the corrupt power, our parents tell us. If one is asked today about the issues addressed in Zinda, in Iraq, or in the Assyrian clubs - the immediate response remains the same from Sydney to Solduz: "Politics is the work of Satan; politicians are all on the bad guys' payroll, and God wants you to stay as far from it all as possible."
The truth of the matter is that our parents, our social clubs, our churches and the entire internal environment that makes up what we call the Assyrian society are inadequately equipped to examine such a complex subject as politics. This is why virtually every major community is taking advantage of the vast amount of information provided by the credible sources as Zinda Magazine, learned scholars and serious political analysts to decipher the enormous amount of data made public on a daily basis and then try to make their own educated decision.
Given the facts and a powerful medium to express their opinion as does Zinda, Assyrians for worse or for better have begun a new cultural revolution which begins by questioning the authority - their bishops, patriarchs, political figures, and even parents who for too long have dazzled us with their indifference. The new Assyrian distrusts them all and finds them arrogant and impractical. Can we blame him?
Where is all this coming from?
The simple answer is inquiry. The new Assyrian is no longer satisfied with the arrogance displayed by a dysfunctional political representative in Iraq, the 14th century capricious decision of a corrupted group of bishops, and the cult-like attitude of the elusive political groups here and there. The new Assyrian demands to know the facts, the purpose of the mission, and the plan to execute the desirables. He/she knows what he/she wants, how he/she wants it delivered and why. In essence, our powers-to-be are not qualified to lead us any longer.
With the tool of the Internet at our disposal we, the lonely rebels of yesterday, are today's heretic heroes, reacting against the baffling arrogance of those who know or have less than us and account for much of the demise of our social and political stature.
For decades the governments in the Middle East have diligently worked to divide us as Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs, and as Nestorians, Jacobies, and Arameans. We ourselves have done more damage by hiding behind our tribal affiliations and the village boundaries. Instead of battling these enemies of unity, our leaders banish us to silence and threaten us with lawsuits, excommunication, and shame.
An interesting event earlier this month shook the foundations of our social infrastructure. A bishop from California stood up before a group of fellow bishops of the Church of the East and instead of dampening their criticism of his actions, he vociferously protested their decision. The new "Martin Luther" of the Assyrian Church of the East, in essence, sparked the cultural revolution which has already effectuated the politics in Iraq and the spiritual realm of our Christian faith. His Grace protested against a worldly power that prefers to rule over an uninformed public, riddled with oversimplified notions of God and politics as we once understood in the isolation of the Hakkari mountains.
The historic dissention courageously displayed by Bishop Mar Bawai Soro, in a short time, will undo every little anti-unity and anti-Assyrian action taken by the governments in the Middle East. Two thousand years ago we began with one Eastern, Mesopotamian, and Christian Church and have now ended up with three. If the desire to unite all three members of the Church which began in Mesopotamia shortly after the Resurrection is a heresy and deserves punishment, then may we all be banished for ever for standing up to our religious captains.
This week we present the significant documents which sparked the transformation inside the Holy Synod of the Church of the East in Chicago earlier this month. In the order of their presentation, the first is a paper put forward before the Synod of the Bishops by Mar Bawai Soro. It is followed by the decision of the Holy Synod in regards to Mar Bawai Soro’s actions, and finally Mar Bawai Soro’s dissenting response to the decision of the Holy Synod.
The fire sparked three weeks ago will soon inflame other Churches, the political parties, and any one and any group who stands against reforming the medieval attitudes of the past. At last we are preparing to leave Hakkari and Urmia and explore the possibilities of modern intellectualism.
The Position of the Church of the East Theological Tradition on the Questions of Church Unity and Full Communion
This short paper on the perspective of the Church of the East on the question of communion was presented on November 2, 2005, by Bishop Mar Bawai Soro to the assembled members of the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East held in Chicago, IL. In the past two previous Holy Synods, Bishop Mar Bawai Soro made two other presentations exposing the understanding on the same question but from the view point of the other Traditions, i.e., Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant.
Mar Bawai Soro
1. A true Apostolic Church cannot possibly remain isolated and alone without being in full ecclesial communion with other Apostolic Churches. If the Apostles of the Lord: Thomas, Andrew, James, John and Peter were bound together in Apostolic communion then also their churches must also be bound with the same communion of their founders. However, due to historical factors, namely, political and geographical, between the Persian and the Roman Empires, ecclesial ties between the Assyrian Church of the East and the rest of Christendom, i.e., the three major ecclesiastical families in Christianity: the Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, communion was ruptured for many centuries. As a result of this regrettable reality, we notice that today the Assyrian Church of the East is not in ecclesial communion with any other Apostolic Church.
2. Therefore, the state in which we find our Church in today is for many legitimate reasons contrary to ecclesial logic and true theological and apostolic understanding. The following points below are the basis for us, as a church, to seek the restoration of communion with other Apostolic churches:
The Church of the East possesses a theological, liturgical and canonical tradition in which she clearly values the primacy of Peter among the rest of the Apostles and their churches and the relationship Peter has with his successors in the Church of Rome. The official organ of our Church of the East, Mar Abdisho of Soba, the last theologian in our Church before its fall, based himself on such an understanding when he collected his famous Nomocanon in which he clearly states the following: “To the Great Rome [authority] was given because the two pillars are laid [in the grave] there, Peter, I say, the head of the Apostles, and Paul, the teacher of the nations. [Rome] is the first see and the head of the patriarchs.” (Memra 9; Risha 1) Furthermore, Abdisho asserts “. . . . And as the patriarch has authority to do all he wishes in a fitting manner in such things as are beneath his authority, so the patriarch of Rome has authority over all patriarchs, like the blessed Peter over all the community, for he who is in Rome also keeps the office of Peter in all the church. He who transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.” (Memra 9; Risha 8). I would like to ask here the following: who among us would dare to think that he or she is more learned than Abdisho of Soba, or that they are more sincere to the church of our forefather than Mar Abdisho himself? This is true especially since we the members of the Holy Synod have in 2004 affirmed Mar Abdisho’s List of Seven Sacraments as the official list of the Assyrian Church of the East. How much more then we ought to consider examining and receiving Abdisho’s Synodical legislation in his Nomocanon?
3. As an implementation of the above mentioned principles of full-Communion and Christian Unity, the restoration of ecclesial unity with the Old Calendar and the Chaldean Churches would be the most historically fulfilling objective from any other project we may seek to fulfill. In fact this noble aim has been already recognized by our hierarchs in the past decade when letters of reconciliation and unity were exchanged with the Old-Calendar segment of the Church of the East, and a dialogue was opened and an agreement was reached and signed by the two Catholicos-Patriarchs and the rest of our bishops to bring about a comprehensive formula of unity between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Unfortunately, this serious dialogue has been interrupted and paralyzed from 1998 until the present time. In my opinion, this noble quest for unity is the only valid way for the Church of our forefathers, the Church of the East, to fulfill its historic destiny and thrive in the future. Such an action would be a solid ground for our people to activate the mechanism that may also lead one day to a national unity.
The above statement is also my conviction in front of God, you my brothers, and my own church and nation. This conviction I have learned from Mar Abdisho of Soba and cannot abandon it, for it will be a betrayal to my church fathers and to my duty as a bishop of the Church and a shepherd of my people. Accordingly, I do believe that we ought to Implement these principles with caution and in a Christian manner in order to fulfill the objective of church unity and ecclesial communion. This is done so that the Assyrian Church of the East could unite with both the Chaldean and the Old Calendar Churches and all three of them can once again become one United Church of the East. Then and there, this united Church of the East could formulate a common position to negotiate with the Catholic Church how this New United Church of the East could preserve its spirituality, canon law, liturgy, theological terminology and self-governance but at the same time be in full-communion with the Universal Church.
A Church on Fire
Youel A Baaba
Today, the Assyrain Church of the East is on fire and sadly this devastating inferno is ignited by arsonists within the church hierarchy. His Grace, Mar Bawai Soro was suspended during the meeting of the 10th Holy Synod held in Chicago (10/31 to 11/7/05).
With permission from H.G. Mar Bawai, I have translated into English the formal letter issued by the Synod and Mar Bawai’s response. The purpose of this translation is to provide all readers of Zinda magazine the formal and accurate information of both sides. This is in hope to eliminate rumors, fabrications, misrepresentations that are being circulated in the Assyrian communities throughout the world.
In the future issues of Zinda magazine, we shall translate and make public all correspondence between His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and His Grace Mar Bawai Soro. We firmly believe that the truth should be exposed to the public and let the readers form their own opinion on what is exactly taking place.
As Assyrians and members of the Church of the East, we should continue to pray and hope for a peaceful resolution of this problem. We hope that the church hierarchy and all the faithfuls will display a Christian spirit full of love, understanding and forgiveness. If the controversy continues, we Assyrians will end up paying the high price. God bless all.
The Decision of the Holy Synod
8908 Birch Ave. Morton Grove, Ill 60053, USA
His Grace Mar Bawai Soro
Receive our greetings in Christ:
The tenth Holy Synod met from Monday, October 31st through Monday, November 7, 2005 under the pastoral guidance of Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicus Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and in the presence of the following pastors:
H.G. Mar Narsai, Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria, Europe and the Patriarchal Representative.
In this Synod and in your presence, you were informed that the Synodical decision was reached with the general approval in regard to those two illegal letters dated April 2, 2005 and July 30, 2005 which you wrote to His Holiness the Patriarch. The Synod also studied the complaint against you made by members of Mar Yosip Parish in San Jose.
In both of your letters, you are presumptuously blaming the head of the church, His Holiness the Patriarch of the Apostolic Seat of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Peter of our times, whom the Synod clearly gives him the authority over all the dioceses of the Assyrian Church of the East. And you say that he has broken the canonical laws and you further say that His Holiness has been the cause of division in the California dioceses especially in the San Jose parish even though His Holiness wrote you and gave you his fatherly advice in his patriarchal letter dated July 2, 2005 in which he states thus:
“Problems, inconveniences, and rejection of changes that you are making in that parish exist between you and the members of the parish. You as the responsible and spiritual father of that parish, you are capable to resolve those issues with ease by adopting the path that Christ has thought us to guide in a humble spirit, with love, wisdom and forgiveness.”
But in your letter you have thus answered his Holiness:
“You have always worked against me and have agitated people to oppose my thinking. You have openly used the politics of divide and rule in the San Jose Parish and California…… thus your unlawful actions have driven Christ out of the church because you are using human thinking.”
You also dared to impose conditions on His Holiness in regard to his performance relative to Mar Yosip parish in San Jose and said:
“Please listen to the advice of bishops and priests, for the sake of keeping peace and harmony between us and in the church. I suggest that you do not come now to visit the city of San Jose parish, in order to avoid further increase of confusion and unpleasantness.”
Thus, His Holiness did not celebrate communion there as it was expected, for this and other unlawful acts that you have taken by which you have broken the synodical cannons of the Assyrian Church of the East and the cannons of Mar Dadesho, Mar Eskhaq, and the Universalists. (See Mar Odisho’s Collection of Synodical canons, Section 9, paragraph 5)’
You forgot your confession read on the day that you were ordained in Mar Gewargis Church in Chicago October 23, 1984 in which you promised to be faithful and respectful to the fatherly seat of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. It was further asked of you by the Holy Synod that a committee of clergy is sent to your diocese to investigate and find a peaceful way to resolve the problems that exist between you and the parish in San Jose. This was the help that was offered to you by the Holy Synod. Your response was total rejection of this suggestion. Because of this and by means of this synodical letter, we are formally informing your grace about the decisions of the Holy Synod under the leadership of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, said decision was unanimously approved by all the members of the synod on Saturday, November 5, 2005. These were read to you in your presence but you asked that they be given to you in writing. Thus the letter is being delivered to you by hand.
The decisions of the Holy Synod are that you select one of these three:
1. The Holy Synod has been informed that there is a great need for a bishop to assume the responsibility of managing the dioceses of Iran and Russia, and we are asking you to assume this responsibility as soon as possible, or,
2. Yosip Parish in San Jose between you and the parish. This suspension is for a period of two years and you shall be a suspended bishop. This West California Diocese will be managed temporarily by a temporary committee consisting of priests and church members of that parish selected by two bishops who will represent the Holy Synod under the guidance of His Holiness the Patriarch and with the advice of the priests of Western California Diocese. It is also expected from your grace that during this period of two years you will not interfere in the management of that diocese or any other diocese and also:
3. If you do not comply with one of the two points mentioned in paragraph 1 and 2, then the Holy Synod regretfully asks you to submit your resignation from the office of the bishop all in all.
We shall wait for your written response on these decisions until Friday, November 11, 2005 before 12:00 noon; Send your response to the Patriarchal office via facsimile (1-847-966-0012) or to the above address. And if you do not respond, then the Holy Synod is suspending you from the office of bishop in the Assyrian Church of the East.
In conclusion, we expect your response and we wish you good health for body and soul.
May the grace of Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us.
Written in the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East
Names of Prelates signing this decision
1) Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
2) Mar Narsai DeBaz, Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria & Europe
3) Mar Aprem (of India), Metropolitan of Malabar and All India
4) Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq
5) Mar Aprem Khamis, Bishop of Western United States
6) Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of Australia and New Zealans, Secretary of the Holy Synod
7) Mar Emanuel Yosip, Bishop of Canada
8) Mar Odisho Auraham, Bishop of Europe
9) Mar Afram Nathniel, Bishop of Syria
10) Mar Isaac Yosip, Bishop of Nohadra (Iraq) and Russia
An Open Letter to the Members of the Holy Synod
Mar Bawai Soro
His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV
Receive peace in Christ:
This open letter is written to document my open thoughts about the decisions that you have made about points that concern me personally.
The Holy Synod in the Church is expected to be just in its decisions and discuss the topics to the spiritual benefit of all. It is very sad that today we witness that it is working to twist the truth, and allow the thoughts of the members of the church be occupied by certain points that are not correct and are merely revengeful and for the purpose of glorifying the personalities that benefit from such decisions.
It is clear to anyone who has the ability to understand that this unlawful decision against me is nothing more than to close the eyes of some people in our church and nation so that they may forget about the malicious existence that the church of our fathers has fallen in these years. While some of the clergy are busy increasing the division among certain levels of our nation, and the church shattered under such weak leadership which has no connection or thoughts about the spiritual welfare of its members but pretend that you hold in your hands the flag of salvation and glorification of the church and the nation.
To the people you say that the church does not get involved in politics; however, ask yourselves and the people if what you are preaching is correct. Because your overt and covert activities do not speak the truth. Anyone who listens to your speeches, promises, and notices your meetings with different people will realize that your actions are different from your speeches and you have forgotten about he spiritual benefits of your sons and daughters.
Today, with pride you call this church, holy (Free Church) and (we are free), why? Are you managing an authority or shepherding Christ’ flock? The church is free only when it complies with the Word of God and is loyal to its Synodical Canons and its fathers’ heritage. Not when its clergy scorn its laws and allow her to fall in despicable fanaticism. And they do not wish to come truthfully near the other Christian churches so that the eyes of its adherents are not open to a new light and to learn how a church should function. This is the reason why you are not willing to participate in a Christian Communion because you know that in such a case, first the clergy and the leaders must comply to our church laws, But you do not wish to lose the freedom that you enjoy and not be obliged to anyone who may ask, speak or advise you because you think that you are not in need of advice from anyone else.
I would like you to know that I do not agree with your decisions that are related to me because they are not lawful for the following reasons:
1. Both letters that I sent to the patriarch were personal letters and I had legal questions that I was expecting a response from His Holiness. However, His Holiness made copies of my letters and sent them to all the bishops of the church. And in Australia, Mar Meelis made the contents of my letters known to both the clergy and other individuals and he spoke about them on television. Is this the loyalty and trust that should be in the church?
What trust would a clergy from now on have if his letter to the patriarch or bishop is made public and his reputation tarnished unjustly? It is obvious, that this is a new way to drown the voice of truth that His Holiness, with Mar Meelis cunning, is managing the church. What synodical or ethical laws allow a patriarch to interfere in the affairs of a diocese without its bishop’s knowledge and against his will? What is the response of other bishops if you were to interfere unlawfully in their dioceses?
2. His Holiness did not maintain the church procedures during his visit to San Jose. Knowing about the uneasiness, he visited those who are against the bishop and he did not allow having a priest to accompany him as it is the church practice and as he practices in others dioceses. He also had meetings with the church priests without informing me and he spoke to them against me and my working style. Was not this an effort to plant division among the priests and their bishop? Where is the legality when the Patriarch visits and meets with those who are against the bishop and without the latter’s knowledge? Is it not the Patriarch intention to destroy Mar Bawai’s diocese and allow him to appear incompetent and lose his respect among the followers of the church. These are the unlawful activities that the Holy Synod should have addressed and studied. Not wasted its time with peripheral items and creating blame and accusations about a bishop who is trying to awaken the leaders of the church from the slumber that they have the church fallen in.
3. I mentioned in my letter to His Holiness, that our church is an eastern church and all the eastern patriarchs reside in the East and our people in the East are in need of their spiritual father to be with them especially in these distressful times. And, I asked His Holiness to go and visit with them. And he did not even agree with this suggestion. Is this the daring step that I took with the Patriarch? Don’t you believe down deep in your hearts that the Patriarch should be living with his oppressed and needy flock? But you know that the vigilant speaking is not for everyone because you are scared of your name and honor and this is becoming clear that day by day the truth is getting lost in the Church of the East. The points that I have maintained and for which I am receiving this opposition from the patriarch and other prelates are highlighted below:
These are the sacred issues for our church and nation. The church leadership does not approve of them because its does not believe in them. The church honor will be guarded when you assist in the creation of a religious and national unity. You should abandon your meddling rightfully or wrongfully in the politics and negotiations with others to destroy the good work that is being done by our brothers in our ancestral homeland with their blood for so many years.
Today, in your unlawful decision, again you have twisted the truth and came up with the excuse of daring against the patriarch. What is your response for breaking the church canons in the synod of 2001? When the church canon clearly punishes a sinful act of one of the hierarchy and is excommunicating those who do not abide by the canon.
It was the will of the ecumenical synod that for bishops, metropolitans, or catholicoses who are discovered in the act of adultery, fornication, or sodomy, or in an offense like this, there shall at once be deposition for them, and they shall not be trusted again to minister the priesthood, not even if they offer penance. Only they shall not be deprived of contact with the church. Whoever transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.
Thus, you did not work in favor of God’s will but rather in favor of your own personal benefit. You know very well that if Mar Aprim were to be judged according to the church canons, there were many others who would have fallen under the same verdict. For this reason some of you supported him and forgot about the commands of our holy fathers, thus, even though this canon was made known to you, you willingly rebelled against the church canon and the command of your fathers and brought yourselves under the same judgment of this law.
Again, where was your zeal to guard the church canons when so many reports and news were spread about the unethical activities of Mar Meelis and his partnership with Karl Solomon and the damage of about $120 millions done to members of our church and nation in Australia. How much effort did His Holiness or other hierarchy members spent in investigating these reports and events? Only he who is guilty is afraid to speak the truth because he is aware he will turn and stumble over it.
Where was the zeal of the Patriarch when he sent me to Baghdad in 1993 and to have Mar Gewargis accompany me to negotiate with His Holiness Mar Addai, Patriarch of the Old Calendar in the hope of reconciling the two branches of the Church of the East. Mar Gewargis refused to take part in this and threatened to resign for the interference of the Patriarch in his affairs.
In all of these and other events, the Patriarch and other hierarchy members had forgotten about the church canons, but today I have been exposed as a headstrong because I dared to speak the truth in my letters to the Patriarch. And some of those who are judging me today unjustly forgot about their presumptuous behavior in the synod of 1973 in Lebanon where they dared to suspend His Holiness Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun. However, when he threatened them, they backed down and regretted the big mistake that they had done.
That is how, when lack of knowledge in the church canons, pride, and involvement in personal glory dominate the church leaders, such unjustly decisions taken in haste and lacking logic will always occur in our church from time to time.
Again, this is what occurred with our brothers of the Ancient Church (Old Calendar), first you declared that their ordination in not valid, and you dare to say that they are excommunicated and whoever associates with them is excommunicated. You issued a decree stating that their Holy Qurbana, Baptism, and Marriage Services are unacceptable and unlawful. However, when you were obliged to obtain their recognition of you, again you reversed your decision and threat and told them, “Let us forget what has happened, there is no difference between us and whatever you have is lawful.”
These days, a large number of our esteemed members of our church and nation have spoken and written to the Patriarch, urging not to take this decision against Mar Bawai because again you will be the cause of further division in the church. You gave them false promises that no harm will come to Mar Bawai. But you did not keep your promise, as it is evident that you were forced by foreign elements to take this decision. If not from where did this unexpected zeal suddenly appear? Who forced you to silence those who speak about unity in the church in order that you will be compensated for your success? If it is not this way, when will you come to the realization that even in this case you have been wrong? However, this time it is too late for you because the eyes of the people are open and they can see the truth.
According to the news leaked to the public testified that the decision to suspend me was not taken last week but it was made by Mar Meelis last July in Australia. And the Patriarch was just a play in the hands of Mar Meelis and his associates to fulfill plans that he has been waiting for so many years. Thus, many of those who oppose Mar Bawai were saying earlier that the case of Mar Bawai is finished and at the end of October he will be suspended. The decisions were accurately stated before they reached my hands. For this reason, this synod was a play orchestrated by Mar Meelis and his friends and the producer was the Patriarch himself. That is why their decisions are fraudulent and unlawful and not for the benefit of the church and its adherents and the outcome of these decisions is defiance and division. Observe to what level has the Church of the East descended under the weak and false leadership. Christ said, when your light is dark, how much your darkness will be?
For all these reasons and for the pressure exerted on some of the members of the church hierarchy who sympathize with me against your opinions and were not in agreement with your decision, and for the other remaining members of the hierarchy who have always been unfaithful in the application of the true canons when the occasion demanded their use, and for the reason of the unlawful interference of the Patriarch and other prelates in the affair of my diocese, and adding fuel to the fire to increase division , I say:
This decision is unlawful according to the Holy Canons (Sunhadus) and it is not truthful and I reject it. Because the sole purpose of this decision is to distance me from the front and from true church endeavors, so that the front is left open and unguarded for you so that you may be free to crush under your feet the church canons and the unity of our people spiritually and patriotically as you have done so far.
In conclusion, for the benefit of all hierarchy members whoever they may be, the priests, deacons, or individuals, I wish to inform you do not dare to come to come to Mar Yosip parish or others properties that are under my administration in the hope of possessing these churches and their properties. They shall be refused entry by the city police and the FBI agents any day and any service that may take place in the parish. These agents will be in the churches to guard the safety and protect the faithful from those who will attempt to create disturbances in the churches under my administration. And if there is one who thinks that he may repossess the properties of our churches, I have one piece of advice for him. For the safety of everyone and overall peace in the community, go to the courts and file your claim. There the case will be debated and judged in a civilized and lawful manner. Otherwise, we hold the Patriarch, and the hierarchy members and the opponents here in San Jose responsible for whatever happens.
Church of the East San Francisco Bay Area Members and Guests Show Strong Support for Bishop Mar Bawai
On Sunday, November 13, 2005, the St. Joseph Assyrian Church of the East was packed wall to wall with parishioners. More than 600 people attended the Sunday mass to welcome and listen to Mar Bawai explain to his flock what went on during the synod of the Church of the East in Chicago (October 31 to November 7, 2005). The ushers had to direct the late comers to the hall and as a last minute arrangement, they brought additional TV inside the hall that was linked to a video-tape recorder inside the church so that everybody in the hall would listen to the speech of Mar Bawai. Meanwhile, a group of Church volunteers stood in and outside the Church wearing all black and a ribbon around their arms for identification, just in case of any emergency or trouble. San Jose Police were present as well to ensure peace and security. Not a single incident took place; everything was peaceful.
The hall of the Church was full of people when the Bishop came in after the mass. There were Assyrian delegations from Chicago, Los Angeles, Modesto, San Francisco, and other places who participated in the ceremonies. Prof. Edward Odisho, Dr. Agnes Merza, Mr. Adad Ashurseen of Chicago, and Mr. Youel Baaba of San Francisco made four speeches inside the hall.
Prof. Edward Odisho of Northeastern Illinois University, a linguist, stated that something in Mar Bawai's speeches make him feel that the bishop is a friend because he is after all not only a theologian but an academic as well. He stated that the bishop must continue his crusade until people understand; especially those who do not know how to read and write yet consider themselves the leaders of the Church. He added that we must withhold the honor of our Church because it is the most ancient Church in the world that spread Christianity through its principle language, the Aramaic, the language of the mother Church of Christ. The language of this mother Church of Christ was neither Greek nor Latin as some claim. He continued to state that it is unfortunate that the members of the Church of the East, Catholic Church, and Suryaniya Church consider themselves members of these churches before identifying themselves as Christians first. That is a big mistake. The Church of Christ started with one shepard (leader) and today it has five or six leaders and perhaps more tomorrow. Even in the Holy Trinity, the real power does not come from its three heads as separate but from the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
He explained that it was not strange for him to understand the synod's decision that was to force one of its learned bishops out. Today, he stated, "I am not thinking of politics as a politician but as a nationalist." He added that he supports the Assyrian Democratic Movement for good reason and that is because for the first time in our modern history we have a political group that is expressing how nationalism should be through its actions and deeds and not only talk.
Dr. Agnes Merza
Dr. Agnes Merza, Vice-President of the Assyrian National Council of Illinois (Motwa), opened her statement by stating that President of the Motwa, Mr. Shiba Mando, could not attend because of the recent passing of his mother. She added that being in San Jose gave her the opportunity for the first time in her life to understand what was being said and done during mass. In Chicago, they always recall the optimistic and unity oriented speech by Mar Bawai, which he made in the occasion of opening of the new building of the Motwa. Therefore, when the group that she was part of ran for Motwa elections, they ran representing this new ideology of unity and their slate won overwhelmingly.
Addressing Mar Bawai, Mr. Adad Ashurseen said, "greeting and peace to the man of peace." He stated that when King Sennacherib won a battle during war, he asked his people to present sacrifices to God. He did not take credit for his victory. Therefore, when we achieve something good, we must give credit to God and you Mar Bawai are preaching in the name of God.
He added that he has officially requested from the Church leaders that the proceedings of the synod be recorded and made public so that the people could see what is going on, however, the suggestion was not considered. He stated that he could imagine what happened at the synod. He compared what happened during the synod with a poker game. Mar Meelis and the bishops, he stated, showed their cards to each other and planned to bluff Mar Bawai. They gambled by saying "all in." Knowing Mar Bawai and his level of intelligence, he replied to this bluff with "I call." This courageous "I call" by the bishop was guided by God.
Adad Ashurseen concluded by stating that religious leaders today have the duty to encourage their parishioners to vote in the upcoming Iraqi elections if we want a place in future Iraq.
Mr. Youel Baaba
Mr. Youel Baaba, an Assyrian author, publisher, and historian stated that the first big mistake the synod made was to defrock Mar Bawai. It must be understood that the Church is not the property of a patriarch or bishops and that the Church belongs to, or is, the believers; we are the Church, he stressed. Church leaders have been placed there by the will of God to spread Christian belief. The second mistake they made was that they thought that Mar Bawai did not have enough people who loved and supported him and that those who did not like him were more. They will find that Mar Bawai's supporters are much greater than those who are against him.
Mr. Baaba continued to state that three weeks ago he sent a letter to the Patriarch in which he asked him to bring peace to the Church in the synod. Three or four days later, he received a phone call from the Patriarch. They talked for around 40 minutes. Mr. Baaba stated that he told the Patriarch that we have heard that the main purpose of the synod was to get rid of Mar Bawai. The Patriarch responded that such thing did not exist and that such issue was not on their agenda. He told the Patriarch that the priest of Mar Narsai parish (of San Francisco) had made such statement two months ago in a meeting of Church Motwa. The Patriarch replied that he does not know where from did the priest hear that.
Mr. Baaba emphasized that the synod did not plan simply to get rid of Mar Bawai, they wanted to get rid of this new national spirit that is born in us today. They want to return the Church and nation to the 17th and 18th centuries when we were under the Kurds mercy and authority. Those days are gone, stressed Baaba. If Mar Dinkha is going to receive monetary assistance or any other kind of assistance and expects that we give up on nationalism and become solely a religious sect, he and his supporters are mistaken.
Mr. Baaba continued to state that we will follow leaders such as Mar Bawai and others who are talking about unity and about our political and national rights. Mar Bawai was defrocked by the synod because he supported Zowaa and not because he broke a church law. Mr. Baaba stated that he told the Patriarch that he owns every version of the Sonhados (Church Law) in his private library. Then he asked the Patriarch, could you point to the law that Mar Bawai broke. The Patriarch replied, no. So, if Mar Bawai broke no law, why was he defrocked? Mr. Baaba answered himself and stated because Mar Bawai speaks about nationalism, unity, and people.
Mr. Baaba concluded that with God's Will we will all do our duties and support such people like Mar Bawai and the others so that we will be known again as Assyrian believers.
Cleaning the House of God
In the sermon today, we listened to a very famous story from the Bible and how Jesus, the merciful, compassionate, forgiver, and who gave his life for us, and became angry in the temple of God. Why he got angry and what he did to clean the House of God? There, he gave all of us a direction, a Christian philosophy, and a way of life in order to cleanse our own lives, to cleanse our own churches, to clean our homes, and to cleanse our nation from all sins. My brothers and sisters, my sin has been my efforts to complete this Christ's order and mission and for that I have been defrocked from the Assyrian Church of the East.
For years, I have been asking, complaining, arguing, speaking, writing, and supplicating so that those people who have sinned, been accused of theft, self-glorifying and deceivers are purged from this Church. That I have been advocating and has been my path even if it was difficult, harsh and painful, and led to my great suffering. I have been despised by my peers in the synod because when I asked to bring back holiness, bring back lawfulness, work towards unity—religiously and nationally—renew our liturgy so that God would hear our prayers, a prayer that we can understand what it means, know how to pray in order to bring the sermon of God to the Church of God. For 15 years, my model has not been a living man. I have looked up to John the Baptist, I have looked up to the Old Testament prophets, I have looked up to the Apostles, and I have looked up to our Church's and nation's martyrs because they have been the people who really believed and sacrificed everything they had for their belief.
My Beloved! Year after year, I was pushed into isolation and left alone on my own. I have been shamed and belittled; nevertheless, I accepted that. Fifteen years after finishing my studies had opened my eyes to the word of God. I know things that I did not know before and thanks to my educators who did not only open my eyes of flesh but gave me insight or spiritual eyes as well. I have looked to every beloved Assyrian through those spiritual eyes. I felt that it was my responsibility to bring these changes through the teachings of Jesus, John the Baptist, the Prophets, Peter and Paul, King David, Mar Toma, Mar Addai, Mar Benyamin, Mar Shimun Bar Sabae, and the today's martyrs all of whom sacrificed their lives so that our faith is preserved.
I was handed this letter signed by all bishops telling me that I do not belong to this Church from now on. My sin, as the letter of suspension indicates, has been that I dared to challenge the Patriarch. The Church, my beloved, is not about individuals, but the Church is about God. God bestowed his authority upon church leaders on earth and when someone rebels against the head of the church, he is ultimately rebelling against God, but there is a condition to be followed by the Church here. Is the church leadership fulfilling the wishes of God?
2000 years ago, Apostle Paul came to Peter, the Patriarch of all patriarchs, and who was in the place of Jesus. When Paul saw that Peter was making mistakes he rebuked and reprimanded him in public, not privately. Galatians 2:11 says: "But when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."
My beloved! My sin, as my fellow brotherly bishops and leaders of the Assyrian Church of the East are saying, is that I became heretic when I wrote to the Patriarch and challenged him. I did not stand against the patriarchal see. I wrote a private letter to the Patriarch; it was between the Patriarch and me. In history, there are many examples of such correspondences between church leaders.
If we look at this whole issue, we will see sadly that those who suspended me broke the laws of God themselves, for example, in 2001. The Church Law says that if a church leader is proven to have committed a serious sin, he cannot be restored to ministry; however, they permitted the sinner to return to ministry and broke the law of God. Similarly, these same people are closing their eyes against other serious sins that are taken place in our Church such as taken people's money and causing loses as if nothing happened. I spoke about these issues and that is why I became an alien to my brethren church leaders.
Look at what other church synods in other churches usually talk about. They discuss theology, conditions facing the new generation and how to keep them in the faith, how to protect them from the challenges of modern godless times. I am sad because we are busy with personal conflicts where as a person who speaks the truth is crucified. Why do we change our moral stands due to the influence of other people? Are people more righteous than God. We will follow the Will of God because God is above you, me, and all of us. We follow the words of God even if they crucify us and even if we know that the thorns of the cross would penetrate our flesh.
My beloved! In this world, the Church must have moral authority. When it speaks people should listen, free of any doubts. But that is a heavy burden on a crooked man who cannot speak the truth and expect the people to listen to him. This requires death in Christ first and a resurrection through Christ. A man cannot do such thing on his own. That is why we listen to our martyrs; that is why we honor them in our prayers; and that is why we hang their pictures in our homes because with their blood they earned the strength of their words. One fellow asked me, you are talking too much. Aren't you afraid for your life? Glory to God, I say. I lived my life fully, I ran my mile, 51 blessed years I lived in my faith. It is God's wish when this weak person will depart in one way or another. But when one Mar Bawai dies, 100,000 among you will rise because I know who you are. You belong to the Church of martyrs. Look at your forefathers and see why they suffered and for what cause. Ask the elderly in your homes and the elderly women to tell you stories from Urmia to Hakkari to the Nineveh Plain and until today and what they went through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and all over the world. Ask them. You will feel holiness from their stands and how they stood against their enemies. This is the belief that today we will stand with and we will not be afraid for our honor, fame, name, and even our life.
My beloved! I want to tell you about a secret concerning our church, unknown to us but known to the rest of the world. Do you know when the Church of our forefather, Church of the East, prospered? It is when the kings of Persia began to slaughter its patriarchs and bishops. The spilled blood of martyrs like Patriarch Mar Shimun Bar Sabae sparked fire in the Church of the East and made her spread throughout the East. We are that church, and that fire is in our blood, in your blood, and mostly in the blood of every person that knows God. Do not go back from the love of God; do not retract from fearing God; do not fear man; if you see wrongdoings, point to it and say it, even if you do that to me first.
Our standards must be based on the words of God, nothing else. This is how the Church should be. My brother-bishops can expel me from the Assyrian Church of the East under the leadership of His Holiness Mar Dinkha, but the Church of the East is my parent's church, the church of your parents, the church of all of us. It is the Church of Christ and church is not about man, the church is about God. We, the bishops, cannot rule in it, we are servants. Holders of church ranks are not magicians whom we should fear; holders of church ranks are only servants. My ranking is not about authority; my ranking is about service, keenness, and humbleness. The order of the bishops of the holy church should attract you towards God only. Our rank is to show the path of God; our rank is the magnet that attracts you to God only and not to man. Do not be attracted to man, not towards me, and not towards anybody else. This is the Church of the East; this is the Holy Apostolic Evangelical Church that Jesus established, a Church that is built on martyrdom.
Before they suspended me, they asked me to stop spreading confusion and disorder in public. Mar Bawai, they told me, your speeches are causing problems and disturbances in our church. People are asking us why aren't you talking about unity and about peace and agreement similar to how Mar Bawai is preaching. Yes, I said, why don't you talk about these things. The Church of Christ is one. Our forefathers said that evil divided the church. Furthermore, we will work to reform this holy liturgy so you will not only listen to it but also so that it enters your hearts and it becomes an authority in your lives. Our goal should be that each one of us to repent from his sins. Our goal should be to raise our Children in a spiritual life that God vindicates. That is the goal of Church and the liturgy. How could we perform the liturgy in a language that they people do not understand? This was my question: Why do we allow the Indian members of the Church of the East to use their native tongue in their liturgy? Even a child understands what the bishop is saying. Why do we allow the American members of the Church of the East to use English? The language by which a child communicates with his mother when asking for things is the same language that he uses when he supplicates and asks mercy from God. Why don't we also pray with our spoken language to God?
How could the bishops demand that don’t preach, but instead teach the priests who will preach in my place? No, my utmost love and respect for them, I will kneel and kiss their feet; however, the will of God is greater than man. When I receive threats, do I think about my name and status? No, I do not care because God is greater my brothers and sisters. By the way, I want to thank you very much for coming from your different cities to see me when I arrived at the airport on Friday. I know that you too are taking risks just like I am. I know that there is confusion, non-clarity, and uncertainty in your minds. You see, they did not teach us in school what to do when we are defrocked and expelled. They teach us how in our spiritual life as a family that loves God, we should be in harmony and come close to God.
Although the situation is different today, but still, we will follow God with all our power and faith. Our Church is our home and we are staying in it. I am asking with all my weakness and sins, even though they suspended me and we are bewildered, despised, but we remain in the Church of our forefathers. I will ask for mercy and well-being for them and may God forgive my sins first and then theirs. I ask from you to respect the leaders of the Assyrian Church of the East; they have their own way of thinking, may God direct and bless them. However, our thinking is different. We are remaining in the Church of our forefathers; we are staying in the Church of the East. We will work to accomplish everything that we were unable to achieve in their Church. We will preach and glorify the name of God, and we will preach repentance. We will preach by the language that people will understand and will pray through that language but according to the liturgy of our forefathers. We will preserve the belief of our forefathers because it is blessed with Holy Spirit. At the same time, we will not be self-glorifying. We will not claim that who is not in the Church of the East is below us or that who is not Assyrian is less than us. No, my brothers, this is not Christ's way. Our philosophy today in our Church is such that if my Catholic brother calls himself Assyrian or Chaldean, he will stand on my right side and my Presbyterian Protestant brother with his own philosophy will stand on my left side. He is my brother; he did not choose to be different than me nor did I choose to be different than him. He is my brother and she is my sister, nobody can take that away from me. My Old Calendar brother is in my heart, wherever you are my brother, we will preach that we are one. The others could do whatever they want; however, we will remain on the path of God because there is no other path beside it. No other path is more powerful than that. Do not be afraid, listen to the word of God and the Bible, and do not listen to man. Listen to God only and follow the path of the truth and God will speak with you if you opened your ears and listened.
We are going to receive the body and blood of the Son of God; it will be inside you. Pray and see how you will change and that who can change will begin to love. Love is God and God is love. You cannot love if you do not have faith. You cannot say to another, I am better than you because I am in this church…you just cannot. Go and ask members of the Catholic, Protestant, Old Calendar churches, what do you think when someone says to you I love you just as I love myself? They will answer, such a person has a place in our hearts.
My beloved! In Christ, you will win all people when you place yourself last. In Christ, you will lose if you did not bow and become a servant because God will not lift you.
I want to see the day when these cherished thoughts are being exercised genuinely and not only spoken about, because I have heard many promises before, but all in vain.
This argument between me and the bishops was not born today. This argument is years old, but now circumstances, including political situation in Iraq, dictated that this issue surfaces this way. Our eyes are open, we know well what is happening, and we will not accept anything that contradicts with the Will of God.
For the parishioners of the Church of the East in San Jose I will say, perhaps some of you, with my respect to you, will disagree with my stand and that is acceptable because each one of you has the right to his own thinking. I will pray, and you pray too, so that God reveals his truth to us and give us strength so that we achieve his wishes only. This home is for praying and it is open for everybody who comes to worship God and follow the procedures put forth by this Church's priests and committees.
In my letter to His Holiness Mar Dinkha in response to my suspension, I stated and made it clear that I reject it because it is unlawful, and that we will continue to serve here as a Church of the East institution outside the jurisdiction of His Holiness. If there is a priest, bishop, or any person who wants to come here and cause trouble or cause damage, or if there is a disagreement in thought, then I am asking, for the sake of everybody's safety so that no harm comes to any of us, that we resolve our conflict in a civilized manner and according to the law. The United States did not prosper because it is only a democratic country. No. It prospered because it is a land ruled by law and we are people who know God, admire the law, and live in a country that honors the law. And whereas the constitution protects the rights of all of us, it is the law that enforces such protection. Therefore, we will do things according to the law and if there is an issue or disagreement, it will not be resolved through fights but through legal channels.
Let us pray so that God blesses all of us and I will say again thank you very much for attending and for your support, especially to those brothers and sisters who had come from faraway cities. In Chicago, there wasn't a day that our people did not make me cry because I was under the impression that I only understood what was going on. For some of us who are familiar with what is happening in our midst and understand what our essence is, those made me cry of joy because I learned from them and because I felt the strength of God in their words. I realized then that knowledge and holiness do not belong to us clergymen, bishops, and the educated people only. No, holiness, humanness, and goodness is in every heart that is open to God; it is for every person who has honesty, truth within himself, those who do not close their eyes when they see sin, and those whose hearts are always open to the truth.
Forgive me if I have forgotten to mention any other matters, but I will be communicating with you always. This dialogue of ours will be lengthy and it will address many other issues and arguments. One thing I am sure of, this advancement we live today was not initiated by Mar Bawai; it was started by your martyrs in Iraq and your believers around the world. It was started by the poor people who are dispersed around the world without a Shepard and see how our children are being lost. It was started by the parents and clergymen who are desperate but determined to do something. How could we rectify the conditions in which we are? There is no other way but to return to the House of God and by distancing our hearts, lives, and Church from every thought that God disapproves.
Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia Makes Offer on Frozen Apartment
(ZNDA: Australia) Further investigations into the Karl Suleman Enterprizes(KSE) Ponzi scheme, by the liquidators Howrath, have revealed startling new findings in the intricate workings of the scheme.
As previously revealed in Zinda’s investigative report "Chastity, Poverty and Obedience" Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East for Australia and New Zealand diocese, had used his brother’s name, David T. Zaia, to purchase land for a Pyrmont apartment for the sum value of $360,000.
New evidence shows that the money used for the purchase had come from money that had been, coincidently, removed from the KSE scheme two months before its financial collapse.
Using his brother as his proxy, Mar Meelis Zaia proceeded to invest the money in a unit on 11 Bunn Street, Pyrmont (Sydney). During the course of their investigations KSE liquidators placed a caveat on the property, because money gained from the KSE scheme was used to purchase the property and the liquidator have been seeking to recover these funds for the benefit of over 2,000 Assyrian families who were defrauded by the illegal scheme (click here for pdf report).
Zinda Magazine has learned that in recent months Mar Meelis Zaia has made frantic efforts to resolve the impasse over the apartment. Speaking to the liquidators, on behalf of Mar Meelis, during these intricate negotiations has been Karl Suleman’s former employer, Joe Prestia.
According to Paul Weston, the liquidator assigned to Karl Suleman Enterprizes(KSE) Pty. Ltd, Mar Meelis Zaia had offered the sum of $170,000 to remove the caveat on the Bunn street apartment, to prevent the liquidators from taking legal action forcing him to contest the delicate matter in court.
Investors are free to contact the liquidators regarding the current status of the investigation:
Paul Weston and Neil Cussen
Pope's Address to Chaldean Synod Participants in Vatican
Translation of the Italian original by Zenit
(ZNDA: Vatican) Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of Baghdad, Iraq, and to the bishops who participated in the Special Synod of the Chaldean Church in Rome.
Assyrian European Women Conference
4– 6 November, Weeze-Germany
A report by Aramia Asmar in the United Kingdom for Zinda Magazine
I caught the tail of the star and I am
The Assyrian women have recognised that the political demands of thousands speak more powerfully than the plea of isolated voices. Hence, it was time for the women to call for an Assyrian European Conference and discuss the means of establishing a mechanism to promote equality and defend the rights of the Assyrian women and the nation in general, especially in this current phase of its history.
About 28 Active Assyrian women gathered in Weeze, Germany on the 4th to the 6th of November from different corners of Europe: Germany, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and England. The core topics of the three days of lectures and workshops focused on youth problems in the Diaspora, the Assyrian Identity and how to preserve it.
Identity-based politics has always been the source of our strength and intellectual development. History does determine the strength of the Assyrian identity, but to pass this on to the next generation in its original shape, we need to implement the Assyrian roots in our children, the inheritors of our heritage.
Shoshan Lamassu, an active member of the Assyrian group MAREM RESHAKH “RAISE YOUR HEAD” (AWHR), focused in her lecture and workshop on the importance of the Assyrian woman and her role in contributing to the identity movement. The mother is the first contact of the child with the world. She is a role model for the child especially at the very early age when it starts to build the first features of its character. By implementing Assyrianism in our children at this age, we have secured a treasure which can not be lost easily. This comes to be essential in the western culture, when we are surrounded by multi-cultural streams, any of which could drag us to a place beyond return.
Shoshan who changed here surname to Lamassu, refusing to carry a non-Assyrian surname, struggled for years to convince the Australian government that ASSYRIA was her place of birth. Yet that is what Shoshan’s passport confirms. “You have to adopt the Assyrian ideology yourself by belief and practice before you ask other people to believe you,I cannot claim ASSYRIA, as
The workshop also reflected the shallowness the Assyrian movement is facing and the urgent need to brighten the whole picture, and what the role of the Assyrian women would be in achieving that. The conference reached the conclusion of the necessity to form a European wide committee representing Assyrian women around Europe, and in the Middle East. This committee is aspired to work towards Assyrian issues of higher level, and play an active role in the European political arena. Then, a preparatory committee was appointed, with the aim to meet again in April 2006 in Sweden, and discuss salient issues and elect the members of the committee.
Without any doubts, national identity is a notionally composite projection of many, usually dominate, identities that combine to form the definition of a nation. Probably there we are standing with several identities which suppose to lead to the same gate rather than taking different directions!
Spending two days at the conference, I came to build observations on the Assyrian women and their rational but emotionally-based opinions. Analysing their characters relative to their years of experience in the local Assyrian communities formed a picture in my mind about the boundless energy and desire for ASSYRIA, but maybe in a more traditional political way of thinking. Could this be the factor that empowers us?
We have an urgent need to re-build our women’s organisations, to train them to think in a more dynamic and diplomatic way - a way which enables us to cope with the rapid changing of the political situation. We need to reach the hidden strength in our women and show it to the world. This is an enormous resource of ability; we cannot afford to lose it.
We believe in one Assyrian nation where both genders have an equal role in contributing to it’s glory.
Academic Conference on Seyfo Held in Sweden
A report by Afram Barryakoub in Sweden for Zinda Magazine. All photos courtesy of esamedia.se.
(ZNDA: Stockholm) On Tuesday 15 November around 300 students, journalists, scholars and other interested people gathered in Stockholm for the conference on the Assyrian and Armenian Genocide of 1915, also known as Seyfo (Assyrian word for sword).
The conference was organised by the federation of Sweden's labourers, ABF, the Forum for Living History, an organisation financed by the Swedish government, and the Assyrian and Armenian organisations in Sweden.
The conference attracted much attention because of its academic forum and the distingueshed speakers, including the Armenian professor Vahakn N Dadrian from U.S., Dr Tessa Hoffman from Freie Universitet in Berlin, Germany and Professor David Gaunt from Sweden. Another speaker was professor Dr Kemal Cicek from the Turkish Historical Association, representing the denial policy of the Turkish state.
In the last few years Professor David Gaunt from the university of Södertörn in Stockholm has studied Seyfo and is soon expected to publish a new book on Seyfo, in cooperstion with Mr Jan Diarbarkalrli.
During his speech on Seyfo Professor Gaunt showed the official Ottoman documents exposing orders for the deportation and killing of the Assyrians. One such document stated that the Assyrians must be relocated to Moslim villages and there ought to be no more than twenty Assyrians in each Muslim village. This was intended to eradicate the Assyrian identity and facilitiate the turkification of the Assyrians.
Professor Gaunt also explained why the genocide is less known as Assyrian and more so as Armenian, in that the lack of an Assyrian state has made it immensely difficult for the Assyrians to make other people understand what they have suffered. Another reason was the lack of well educated people among the Assyrians in the earlier times who could articulate their experince for foreigners.
But he also underlined that the scholars are in the beginning phase of the understanding of Seyfo and that there is much research left to be done. He expressed his apreciatation for the Assyrian communities' willingness to translate important documents and books into English. It will make the job much easier, he said.
Professor Kemal Cicek, the Turkish representative, stressed during his entire speach that there was no genocidal acts committed by the Turks during the First World War. He accused the Armenian scholars of manipulating numbers and sources and he underlined that the Armenian revolutionary parties are to blame for the fighting between the Turks and the Armenians. When asked whether Turkey ever will aknowledge the Assyrian and Armenian genocides he replied “No, never!”, only to state seconds later: “If an independent commission of scholars study the case and conclude that it was a genocide, then Turkey will aknowledge”.
Professor Cicek made several controversial statements during his spech. When it was pointed out to him that the Assyrians are not considered as a minority in Turkey according to the important Laussane Treaty of 1923 he shouted out “Why are you Assyrians seeking minority status in Turkey when in fact you have always been treated as first class citizens?”. A mixture of laughter and loud cries followed his statement.
The Armenian professor Dadrian did not mention the name of the Assyrians once during his speech. And when asked whether Armenia should become the first state to aknowledge the Assyrian genocide he replied “ It is a good question but I can’t give you an answer, because we do not know much about your experience”. This statement, some Assyrian observers concluded, shows that there remains a reluctance towards the recognition of the Assyrian genocide by the armenian scholars.
Another speaker was the Turkish journalist and author Ms Yelda Özcan who began her speech by apologizing in both Assyrian and Armenian. As she put it “ I am sorry that I have to speak to you in the language of those who killed you”. She also said that she is ashamed of being Turkish and continued listing the Turkish atrocities against the minorities.
This conference was a very important step in making the Assyrian genocide known in Sweden. Many of the attendents were Swedes. And there were also Swedish historians and politicians among the crowd. A detajled article was published on the conference the following day in the second largest newspaper in Sweden.
The Assyrians of Sweden are continuing their work and lobbying activities to recieve the much needed recognition of Seyfo by the Swedish parliament - a recognition which feels closer today than ever before.
Constitutinoal Amendments Discussed with Armenia's Minorities, Assyrians
Courtesy of ARKA News Agency
(ZNDA: Yerevan) Constitutional amendments were discussed Friday with Armenia's ethnic minorities. Constitutional rights expert Aram Ananyan told journalists that the proposed package of constitutional amendments is favourable for protection of ethnic minorities' interests. He presented key aspects of the project saying they leave no room for discrimination of ethnic minorities. The expert reminded that the reformation of the Constitution is one of Armenia's EU commitments. In his opinion, the renewed constitution will enable Armenia to join European fold.
Ananyan also answered the questions ethnic minorities' representatives put to him at the discussion about some clauses related to their rights to bye land, mother and child rights etc.
Representatives of Jewish, Assyrian, Molokan, Ukrainian, Curd and Russian communities of Armenia were present at the discussion.
Hotel Owned by Turlock Civic Club to House Hurricane Katrina Victims
Courtesy of the Turlock Journal
(ZNDA: Turlock) Dozens of Hurricane Katrina victims may soon call Turlock home.
Obispo Gray Ministry is leading an effort to convert the former Lucky 7 Motel at 2700 N. Golden State Blvd. into housing for 78 victims of the August storm that devastated New Orleans.
“We are committed to the individuals and their families,” said Obispo Gray, a pastor who has worked in Turlock for about three years.
Gray said his organization is working with the city of Turlock, the Assyrian American Civic Club, Habitat for Humanity and local business leaders to renovate the property.
The old hotel site has been the subject of some controversy (click here), which piqued in July with tenants complaining to the county that their apartments were “uninhabitable.”
Now vacant, the seven-acre lot is owned by the Assyrian American Civic Club, which has entered into an agreement to let Gray's group use the property at no cost for the next year, Gray said.
The plan is to take the 26 living units on the property and turn them into interim housing for the 78 evacuees that arrived in California from Gulfport, Miss. and New Orleans and are currently in shelters in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Modesto and San Jose.
Along with the living units, a major movie corporation will be providing play equipment for the families.
The plan for the rest of the property is to build a youth center with a learning lab that will be equipped with 30 computers and a separate senior center.
“As far as living facilities go, out of five stars we intend on making this a four star facility,” Gray said.
Gray said hurricane evacuees may be able to move in as soon as Nov. 30, however the bulk of the new residents won't arrive until the end of January, shortly after the project's scheduled completion date of Jan. 6.
Volunteers with Faith Home Teen Challenge worked on cleaning up the property's landscape this week.
While living at the property, evacuees will be provided with employment and job training. To help them get to job training sites, the ministry and its auxiliary has acquired 15 passenger vans that are CNG or “clean air” vehicles.
Gray said his goal is to get the families into permanent housing.
Gray said the ministry has planned a three year follow-up to help care for the families and help in their transition.
Gray's staff at the facility will be trained by the American Red Cross. They will also possess degrees in social work, ministry and family counseling.
Once the property is renovated as Gray says “from the roof to the floor” it will be turned back over to the club fully furnished and equipped.
“It has been an incredible show of good faith by both sides,” Gray said.
That isn't the full extent of the project as Gray's ministry purchased five living units (condos) at 120 Clifford Ave. that we be home to five needy families and a recreation center. Habitat for Humanity out of Modesto will be helping with that project.
“It's our investment in our home town,” said Gray.
All materials for both sites have already been donated to make it a debt-free project.
Gray praised the assistance his ministry has received from the community during this project. From city officials to the fire department, to engineers and consultants, the help keeps coming in.
The ministry has been in Turlock for one year now and their mission is to fight blight and poverty as well as minister to the needs of the 300 recorded homeless persons living in Turlock.
Catholic Diocese May Sell New Jersey Church to
Courtesy of the Morning Call
(ZNDA: New York) A 90-year-old Hungarian Roman Catholic Church in Allentown, New Jersey may be sold to a Syriac Catholic diocese.
Officials at Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese approached the Allentown Catholic Diocese about their interest in St. Stephen of Hungary Church this fall, said Matt Kerr, a spokesman for the Allentown diocese.
Kerr declined to disclose the asking price for the church at 510 Union St. He said the matter ''is not a done deal'' and expects a decision to be made by early next year.
''In the end, it'll be the bishop's decision,'' he said.
Meanwhile, shocked parishioners are wondering why their beloved church should be sold without their say.
The appraised value of the church and rectory is more than $500,000, according to Lehigh County public records.
No one was available to comment at the Union City, N.J., office of the Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese.
For two years, a priest from the Syriac Catholic diocese has been holding a weekly Sunday liturgy at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Ridge Avenue in Allentown, said the Rev. Harold Dagle, pastor of Immaculate Conception.
The services draw about 100 Arabic-speaking Catholics, mostly from the Allentown area, Dagle said. ''They are looking for the liturgy in their own language,'' he said.
The Syriac Catholic Church belongs to the See of Antioch. Its present patriarch of Antioch presides over the Patriarchal Eparchy of Beirut and the Syriac Catholic Community, which includes two archdioceses in Iraq, four in Syria, one in Egypt and Sudan, and the diocese in the United States and Canada. There are churches in California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and three in Canada, according to its Web site., the parishioners at St. Stephen celebrated the church's 90th anniversary.
A handful learned about the possible sale from a meeting with Byrne on Tuesday, said Eugene Bokanyi, 62, a longtime parishioner who lives in Salisbury Township.
Letters have been sent to all parishioners, and another meeting will be held after Mass on Sunday, he said.
The news made him ''sick to his stomach,'' said Bokanyi, who has been a member of the church since he arrived in the country from Hungary in 1957.
Bokanyi and his wife, Elaine, are heavily involved in the church, doing everything from helping with meals to upkeep.
''We were always in the black,'' he said, saying the church has no debts and raises money.
Also upsetting to parishioners is the feeling that they have no input in the sale. ''Our people built the church,'' he said. ''They worked hard and built it with their pennies.''
The current church was dedicated in 1956, he said, after the first one was demolished. Parishioners are primarily Hungarian or of Hungarian descent, with many families settling here after the Hungarian revolution in 1956-57.
He wonders about the fate of the church's artifacts, such as a Hungarian emblem near the altar.
''The church was keeping that part of our heritage alive,'' said Shirley Weber of Lancaster, a former parishioner whose family members still belong to St. Stephen.
She was married in the church, her four children were baptized there, and she and her husband expected to have their funerals there, she said.
Bishop Cicek - From Paulus to Saulus
Tuma Abraham, MD
On the occasion of his death many obituaries about Yeshu Çiçek were published in various media. In my opinion they lack a precise and critical considerations of his role within the Assyrian community in Middle Europe. Without diminishing his contributions for the establishment of the Syrian-Orthodox parishes in the European diaspora his irresponsible stand as a major driving force behind the conflict regarding the naming issue and therefore behind the radical split of this community must be considered. Not only the mentioned article in Zinda Magazine, but also the detailed reporting in Suryoyo-TV have omitted this, as if they were censored and fully manipulated by a clerical opinion.
I don't want to provide a wholesale assessment of his entire career, but touch on one aspect that has been mentioned in the Zinda article. From 1974 to 1975 Isa Çiçek, at that time still a monk, was staying in Würzburg/Germany where he was studying the German language at a catholic seminary. At that time he seemed very open-minded about the ideas of the Assyrian national movement which was spreading across Central Europe during that time. An Assyrian cultural group in Würzburg led by Abdulmesih Bar Abraham decided as a part of its activities to republish the book "Mardutho d'Suryoye" by Gabriel Sawmy written in classic Syriac and focused on Mesopotamian history of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The group asked monk Çiçek for the vocalisation ( tagging a text with Ftohe & Sqofe / "Assyrian vowels") of the text in order to make it more readable to the broader public. The only available original copy was obtained from Reverend Ögünc. Çiçek did the vocalisation and added a short hymn in which he praises the Assyrian youth. However, the credits for the reprint of the book and its distribution go solely to Abdulmesih BarAbraham and the Assyrian cultural group. Bishop Çiçek being named as the republisher of this book now is rather strange and ironic since he was fighting against the ideas and historical positions of the book for most of the time of his life. Incidentally, the same wrong statement about the origin of the reprint was published late 1990 by Prof. Sebastian Brock.)
After his ordination to archbishop in 1979 the position of Yeshu Çiçek changed and he became one of the toughest enemies of all secular Assyrian associations which were working for the unity and political rights of their people. Not only he refused any dialog or cooperation with them, but tried to defame the public image of their work. As an example I want to name an escalation before a German court, that enjoined him to defame the Assyrian organisations as "terrorist associations".
With unchristian and even cannonically very doubtful methods he tried to push forward the splitting of the community. He went that far that he deliberately misinterpreted an order of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church to deny the holy sacraments to all members of the Assyrian Organisations and their relatives; even the holy communion for older people after the fourty-day period of lent or the last rites for the dead were denied. Viewed from the point of the Assyrian community Bishop Çiçek has really made a change - from Paulus to Saulus.
One priest that refused to follow his orders was Bitris Ögünç; the conflict between them lead to the dismissal of Bitris Ögünç from his duties by the end of the 1980's.
Also the removal from office and elimination of the elected church council of Middle Europe show the undemocratic methods of Bishop Çiçek. The church council at that time documented its problems with the bishop in a detailed report published 1994.
Even aid initiatives of the Catholic or Evangelical churches for Tur Abdin (like the Solidarity Group Tur Abdin) not only experienced boycott but also had to face animosity. A German friend and supporter of our people recently called Cicek "(...) a very polarisating person. I hope he finds his peace."
After an order by Bishop Çiçek, priests in Middle Europe forbid their communities during their sermon to buy the magazine "Qolo d'Tur Abdin" or the calendar from the Tur Abdin monasteries. In this context, the regular collections for donations in Middle Europe that were partially declared as support for Tur Abdin seem hypocratic. But probably not much reached the monastery Mar Gabriel or any other project in Tur Abdin. The bankruptcy of the Dutch monastery printing facilities and the scandalous financial transaction mentioned in the article show that there were some other substantial wholes to fill by the collections.
Assyrian Politics: Does it Really Matter?
Jonathan S. Davidson, M.D.
I continue to be entertained by journalists voicing opinions about Assyrian issues. Discussing Assyrian matters in a “James Bondish” fashion is amusing and promotes a sense of nationalism and may delay assimilation on an individual basis. Given the fundamentals of the situation it is unlikely that any thing that an Assyrian leader envisions or does will have any significant long term salutary effects on the living conditions of Assyrians , any where in the world. There are numerous so called Assyrian political leaders and intellectuals who have spent the past thirty years engaged in Assyrian politics with nothing to show for it. Assyrian politicians promise us ‘Atour’, a State of Assyria , at the same time our clergy promise us the after life, i. e. a passport to ‘heaven’. Given the events of the past 2000 years and the present situation we may seriously think about the possibility that we are victims of fraud perpetrated by our leaders. No amount of fundraising, political rallies ,TV programs or internet magazines articles will change the downward spiral which has afflicted this nation for the past 2600 years. The ‘Black Hole of Assyrianism’ is a limitless abyss which no amount of effort can plug. Perhaps we should listen to Rubaiyat Omar Khayyam and forget about fantasies that we are being promised by our leadership.
The Decision of the Holy Synod
No issue in the last ten years of our publication has raised so much interest as the decision of the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East against Mar Bawai Soro and his decision to rejects the will of the bishops last Friday. At press time we have received nearly 3200 votes and over 100 letters from our readers on this issue. Below we include a few of the letters and the responses to our last week's poll question the identity of whose authors could be verified and the content of the message was suitable for publication.
The only logical question is: If the Synod laws were broken by the members of the synod when they intentionally neglect to investigate Mar aprim and Mar meelis's s scandalous acts, therefore it is ground for all member participating in the act to be excommunicated by the vary Synod Laws.
It is apparent that their ruling to fire H. G. Mar Bawai Soro on an unfounded grounds or sentencing guide lines to be void.
Come on now, what is going to get you into Heaven? Old traditions, songs about Assyrians, being involved in adultry!? Or the Bible, studying Gods Word, accepting Him into your life as your Personal Savior? I agree with Mar Bawai Soro...... he knows what's up and what's right!
Mar Jacob Thomas
On what basis was the decision made? What are the underlying facts and circumstances of the decision of the synod? I always hoped that the holy Synod would meet to discuss liturgical reforms and matters affecting the welfare and future of our church and people. rather, it seems their purpose in meeting is discuss their dirty laundry in public. What short sighted men. No matter who wins or who is right or wrong, the church, our nation and our people all lose.
Moreover, I read Wifred's commentary regarding the late mar eshai Shimun, Mar Dinkha, the AUA and ADM with great interest. I would like to know the source of the information and how credible and reliable it is. I would also like to know whether a spelling mistake or mistakes were made. For example, in the first paragraph of page three of the editotial did he not mean ADM when referring to Younadam Kanna and the second wave of the Sssyrian resistance? In paragraph four of page three of the editorial did he again mean the ADM when referring to an alleged attempt at the ouster of Mar Dinkha rather than AUA?
What is most troubling to me as an Assyrian member of the Church is that damned near everything the Synod has done for the last 40 years is always done in secret or for dissemination to a select few rather than published to the public. 30 years in America and we still do not have a catechism book or classes for our children. Two more generations of Assyrians born and raised in America and we still cater to Immigrants. But for, Khomeini and Saddam and the massive immigration from the late 60's to present, 100 years of a perpetual refugee orbit, the Church in America showed little if no signs of life. Massive immigration revived and built the Church, here but the emphasis remains where Language takes plrecedence over Christianity.
Frankly I am puzzled ! What made Mar Bawai to be a renegade ? As far as I remember he was a loyal bishop to his holiness Mar Dinkha. Why he is pointing on to the other bishops, that will not solve any problem. I think they are hiding the truth from the members of their parish, to be more specific none of them are loyal to their followers and are misleading them. How can anyone give a comment or take anyone's side while they are kept in the dark. After all they are men of faith and should be honest with themselves as well as people and convey to the public their points? The saga will continue ....May Lord have mercy on them.
His Grace Mar Bawai is the best gift we had from God. We abhor the decision as injustice, irrational and untimely. God is great, we love our Bishop and support any stand he takes. We are very sad.
strongly disagree with the synod. that took place in chicago, I for one , don't understand the RAZA in our churches, and I'am one of the Chior singer, I just memorize the songs by my heart , don't know the meaning of 99% of the hymes, I 'am shame to admit it. My Revrend said Rita do you know the meaning of the word SHWEEKHA in the old aramac . I said sure it mean crazy, he said no, it means KH'QEERA and etc. why don't we all talk the old aramic speech, its because we don't understand it , than why do we have to use it in our churches?
I've read with disgust and shame the findings of the Synod. It's been obvious that Mar Meelis has for the past few months been actively undermining Mar Bawai who he sees as the most likely successor of Mar Dinkha.
Mar Meelis began by spreading flagrant rumours and lies that Mar Bawai was seeking to convert us to Catholicism and then followed it up by trying to dig up as much dirt on him as possible. When he couldn't find anything on Mar Bawai, he used the most foolish of excuses to have him judged by the kangaroo court and effectively removed from the church.
He has now finally fulfilled his plan and paved the way for his accession to Patriarch in the future. Swept under the rug however are the litany of broken vows committed by none other than Mar Meelis Zaia himself.
But in making this decision it is not Mar Bawai that has split from the church rather it is the corrupt church that has split from the word of God and Mar Bawai.
I don't agree with the Holy Synod. They should think wisley & go back to read the Bible & understand the word of Jesus.if they want to be his represantative.
Mar Bawai Soro is right & they are wrong Mar Bawai is teaching, saving us and our childern from the divel. unlike them the divel followers. We will follow Mar Bawa and love him the way we love Jesus. Mar Bawai is the WINER and they are the LOSERS. God Bless Mar Bawai.
I am very disappointed at this unjustly decision from our church Seniors! why not the same measure was not used in 2001 synod when a scandolous problem stained our church?
The LORD only knows that Mar Bawai has been stopped because he is a true Christian. They are also stopping and putting a halt to the word of GOD. How can they tell Mar Bawai to cut all ties from all other churches (catholics, protestants, ect) yet there are obvious ties to Kurds (recent developments)? All true Christians must support Mar Bawai in his intentions to strengthen our church, reform the antiquities that are plaguing our Assyrian people. Putting a grip/halt on the word of GOD is shaking hands with the devil. It is time to lead a new beginning within our church, and revive the power and holiness our forefathers had. Enough about bloating and bragging about 2,000 years ago.
Shamasha Ninos Piro
Why is it okay for His Holiness Mar Dinkha to meet with the leader of the Kurds, who have afflicted countless atrocities against our people, but His Grace Mar Bawai gets punished for trying to unit Christian churches?
We are all one. To my shining star Mar Bawai, keep up the good work.
J. Benjamin (Australia)
It is shame to our community, others are making fun of Assyrian....We can solve things without puting down each other. God said love one another, do not stone your brother, but forgive. God bless you all.
Now I know why the members of the Church of the East reduced from 30 million to not even 300,000 today.
Everybody knows that Mar bawai Soro was & still is 100% right; it was a conspirecy against him.
To reject the Synod's decision means to embrace the the National Cause. Long live Mar Bawai. Long live every pure clergyman in our Church.
They are cruisfying Mar Bawai as they did to Jesues. If this is what takes for our people to wake up from there deep sleep, so be it. The Chaldo/Assyrian nation is not blind nor deaf or mute; these days are similar to what happened to the Lebanese people after rafik al hareri was killed. His death planted a seed of patriotisim in his people and it started a revolution. We shall stand up and support the truth as we see it.
Our dearest Mar Bawai, you are our shepard and your nation is behind you. The Son of Assyria will rise from the ashes and stand for the truth as our lord taught us to do.
Malik Gewargis Soporghan
When Mar Bawai went to Rome to continue his higher studies, I knew when he comes back he will have hard times with the illitrate clergy that control the Church from the top to the base. Education is light & illitracy is darknes. God be the help that we seek for our Church.
The decision that they have made wasn't against His Grace Mar Bawai only; I think it is a conspiracy against our nation and our unity. Shame on our Patriarch and his gangs.
Their dicision was unfair and unjustified and against Gods law. God is with unity not with division.
It is truly sad to witness another publicised Assyrian church crisis surrounding our beloved Church of the East. I do hope and pray to Our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ to save our Church and guide our Church leaders to be graceful, merciful and compassionate in dealing with church matters.
We need a united and strong Church now more than any other time in history . I am confident that His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Church is a blessed Holy father and we pray that the Holy Spirit inspiration and guidance will prevail and deliver our Church from further internal conflict.
In such critical time that our nation is going through, its not aproperiate adopting such risks. Leading to where? Nowhere but new splits.
"I was fired because I try to unite Assyrians? I was fired because I want to change the language in church from old to new Assyrian so our youth can understand? I was fired because I'm not allowed to talk to other churches but my own? I was fired because I'm Christian."
I pray for the "Gang" that has done this to His Grace Mar Bawai Soro. He desereved none of this!
The decision is the worse one, unfair and not just this decision serves only those who follow the devil.
This should be an internal matter. We people should keep out of their business. Let each of their board decide. Khooba o khooyada.
Mar Bawai Soro is a bad person because he is dividing our Church and you guys in Zinda are supporting him and the other dividers which I mean Zawaa, who by the name of the unity are trying to kill our nation and devide it into Assyrian and Chaldean and Syriac and Sorayeh and Aramyeh and That's makhrawta. Mar Bawai is talking about unity, but doing the opposite that's exactly what maran isho mshikha is against. So it's better for him to resign. They don't need such bad person, neither does our nation.
Abi Malek Yacob
As a bishop of church of the East he should obey the Holy Synod's decsion in GOD 's name. Church is important than an indivdual. Thankyou and God bless you all.
Rev. Samuel Dinkha
It is about time to wake up from the sad reality of our spiritual and national chaos. Let us forget for a moment about the leading figures that are influencing us and turn to the issues. There is emptiness surrounding every aspect of our life and hopelessness triggering our asperations. Our integrity as a church and as a nation is demoted. We have lost our common sense and became some senseless objects that could be moved in every direction and by every wind. When will we start thinking about issues and not persons?
Mar Bawai is a phenomenon in our Church and nation. Do not judge him by the cover. Go to the core, and head to the issues for a second. For whose disadvantage are the issues of Liturgical Reforms and Spiritual enlightenment he is calling for? Whose interests are hurt with the Church and National unity he is crucified for? It is evident that our people need to examine their conscience before nailing those who are sacrificially fighting for the future of our future generations.
Shame on Dinkha, Melis and Aprim!
They should fire Aprim first and then tell us what Mar Bawai has done that is so bad.
Could have been handled much better. I definately DISAGREE.
Is it fair to make a decision against a person who's calling for the unity of the people? Especially, in situations where the unity of our people is our first prioprity in order to move our people's case forward. If you think that the decision is fair, i completelly disagree with that.
I wish I was informed enough about the whole incident to be able to give an unbiased opinion. However I'm saddened that the only true glue that has held our small Assyrian people together is being pulled apart by these sad events. A cooling off period is needed right now, if we are not careful we may see a further split in our nation.
Jonathan S. Davidson, M.D.
Having read your article on his Grace Mar Bawai Soro I find it striking that his grace does not actually deny the accusations against him. His only defense appears to be that other bishops are also guilty of even greater offenses. His grace needs to address the accusations against him and present his defense independent of the questions surrounding other bishops. As any one who has gotten a traffic ticket knows, ’ others do it also’ is not an adequate defense.
Nora awo Karam
Mar Bawai has my full suport. He hasnt done anything wrong.
I pray that our Church leaders will come to their senses and consider the good of the nation before their own. They control our fate and are obligated to.
The Chicken Thief of Habbaniya
Voltaire E Warda
Last night I watched and listened on Bet Nahrain TV station to Mar Meelis speech dated October 22, 2005, in Modesto. This is the first time that I have listened to Mar Meelis speaking and I had heard that he was a very good speaker and a very shrewd businessman. Here are my comments on this Bishop's speech:
I believe it is about time for Zinda or anyone else who knows about these acts of shame to disclose the corruption of the other four elders of our Church. We pray to God that He will save this Holy Church from the corruption of the elders, which we saw in the shameful activities of Kasha Barkho, Bishop Aprim and the others.
Voltaire E Warda
I have read the findings of few Christian Synods lately, such as the one by Maronite Church in Lebanon and Chaldean Church in Iraq and recently in Vatican and none resembles the one we had at our Church in Chicago.
"Harbole": A documentary film by the Assyro-Chaldean Society of France (AACF)
Harbole is an old Assyro-Chaldean village situated in the district of Silopi (Mardin), in the south-east of Turkey. Two other Assyro-Chaldean villages, Hassana and Bespin were near of Harbole which was abandoned during the genocide of 1915 (Sayfo) and reconstructed after 1922. In the past, Harbole was founded on the sitting of an old village : Kharwata.
This DVD video of 56 minutes (in soureth) produced by VAC Productions and AACF is a historical documentary. You will hear about the history and the life of this village, abandoned in 1980s and 1990s. You will also view two interviews of Mar Paul Karatas (bishop of Amida, Diyarbakir who passed away in 2005) and of Mar Petrus Harbolaya (bishop of the Chaldean Church in Iraq).
You can order your DVD by sending an e-mail to : firstname.lastname@example.org.
The price of this DVD is $20, including the shipping costs.
2005 Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting
19-22 November 2005
Sunday, 20 November
Monday, 21 November
For a complete list please click here.
A Letter to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV
Ashur E. Peyour
I write to you with the utmost reverence. I offer my eternal respect to your position as our Patriarch, who stands in the glorious succession of venerable Martyrs and Saints who served the Holy See of the Patriarchate of the Church of the East. I write to you today bearing a heavy heart with respect to the outcome of the Holy Synod that recently concluded, as it relates to the future of our beloved Bishop Mar Bawai Soro.
Throughout these extremely turbulent times in our homeland, the future of our people and our continued existence has been placed in jeopardy. During this time, our great Church has been struck with further controversy. Incidents involving Church leaders and their reported acts of selfishness, greed, and countless administrational inconsistencies, are drowning any attempts of unity and progress for our suffering nation. While many individuals are working tirelessly in the hopes of unifying our severely divided nation, sadly, our Church leaders are assuming the role of the dividers in this process. With respect to the current situation of our Churches in the United States and Australia, where we should be serving as pillars of support for our people in Bet-Nahrain, we have not made strides, we have not progressed. We are in fact, regressing, with no end in sight. Our Bishops, both here and abroad, are under scrutiny for a variety of acts that are in direct violation of the Canons of the Church. These incidents include acts of financial impropriety, fraudulent real estate transactions, and tales of adultery. These heinous acts have gone unnoticed and unpunished. On the other hand, in the case of Mar Bawai Soro, his pristine acts of morality, love, compassion, and devotion to the advancement of our Church and nation have been rewarded with humiliating and degrading treatment. Mar Bawai Soro has selflessly devoted the last thirty years of his life to our Lord, to our Church, and to our nation. It is becoming quite evident that the “options” that His Grace Mar Bawai was given are a direct attempt by Church leaders to neutralize the most educated and articulate leader our Church has seen, since the assassination of His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun, and prevent him from making any progress that might threaten it’s iron clad grasp on the “status quo”. Things must, can, and will change. The flock of this great Church will not stand by and watch this injustice take place under their name. The voices of the flock must be heard and the Church leaders must acknowledge what those voices demand.
The reasons for the forced relocation and/or suspension of Mar Bawai Soro have not been made public as of yet. However, I pray that when the report is publicized, it will indicate the specific Canons of the Church that Mar Bawai has been accused of and found guilty of breaking, that merit this punishment. I pray that the same time, effort, thought, and compassion was applied to the rendering of this decision, as it was with the unfortunate incident of Mar Aprim Khamis that became public in 2001. According to the Canons of the Church, adultery by a bishop leader constitutes a grievous violation of the law of chastity. The Holy Synod should have defrocked Mar Aprim. What the Synod did do is issue a two year suspension (with pay) and a full reinstatement of his bishopric duties thereafter. Why was this punishment not based on Canon Law? Why has the Holy Synod simply ignored the tales of scandals in Australia that include Mar Melis Zaia’s involvement in multiple real estate transactions that are at best, described to be “shady”, promotions of and involvement in business dealings where entire Assyrian families have seen their life savings swindled, and last but not least, rumors that include adultery. Is the removal of Mar Bawai Soro retribution for his insistence on a more severe and deserving punishment for Mar Aprim Khamis? Is this the culmination of a conspiracy that is so bent on protecting itself and its secrets, which date back to 1975, that it will ignore the will of the flock they are supposed to protect?
The insistence of Church leaders to follow through with this crusade has caused shockwaves throughout the Church members of our small nation. To quote a friend: “This act, the removal of one of our best bishops, will unravel the Church like never before. We are in the calm before the storm.” Your Holiness, our Church cannot bear another “storm” in her already weakened state. You are forcing families and entire parishes to rethink their loyalty to the leadership of this great Church by the illogical, inconsistent, and bias decisions that are being made when administering the Canons of the Church. Please do not let this happen. Your Holiness, you have stated on many occasions that the Church will stay out of politics; this maneuver is nothing more than a politically motivated attack against His Grace Mar Bawai Soro, the flock, and most importantly against the Church of the East.
A Black Day in the History of the Assyrian Church of the East Synod Meeting
At a time when our entire nation is calling for peace and unity in preparation to address the forthcoming Iraqi general election in December, 2005, Mar Dinkha decided to hold the Assyrian Church Synod Meeting during the first week of November 05. His Holiness, mentioned during his anniversary dinner speech, and was repeated the following Sunday, that the priority concern was the relation with Vatican, Mar Bawai was absolutely not on their agenda. Much to our surprise and utter disappointment, today, His Grace Mar Bawai Soro is being criticized and suspended. The reasons are not published yet, but we can draw some conclusions why Mar Bawai was targeted:
The Patriarch and his subordinates must fully understand that the success and fall of the holy Church Of The East depends on its faithful, the sons and daughters of our great nation, who are the integral pillars supporting the sacred structure. Therefore, this body must be considered as an essential part of the constitution governing the running of the church. Under the circumstances, such as today’s mishap, the body must have been sufficiently consulted before any final decision was made. This is considered a total mistrust no matter how we look at it from the Church’s perspective. The dots must have been appropriately connected before such unlawful injustice to suspend His Grace Mar Bawai took place.
Having said so, the people of all faiths, AssyrianChaldeanSyriac, have the right to know why this time was specifically chosen? We know for sure, the fall from such turbulence has no benefit other than creating havoc and distracting the efforts to pursue our nationalistic goals.
The entire nation is today living under the worst time of our life, not knowing what will happen tomorrow. We must not allow the Church leaders to distract our efforts at a time where we need unity of the people more than anything else. Nothing is holy and important at this very specific time except getting ready, preparing, and challenging the unexpected.
We call upon and urge all the peace loving members of this great nation “Assyria” irrespective to their eternal religious inclination, to come forward in a solidified outrage to condemn such “character assassination’’ which serves no purpose other than to promote harmful, divisive and disgraceful relation among our people.
The Holy See must cease interfering into our political life forthwith. We have hundreds of remarkable intellectuals who are already committed to serve this nation’s political interest. We need all kind of people, from all faiths and colors, because we have no problem in understanding each other as we respect the dignified blessing that blend us together as brothers and sisters, one people, remnant of the great nation “Assyria”.
In closing, as we are running out of time, we must understand that without unity there is no place for a homeland, called Assyria. We must admit without any doubt that our past quarrels and disagreements have caused enough devastation that led to derail our nationalistic efforts to gain legal recognition of our desired identity. Unfortunately, none of us won, we are known today, as “Kurdish Christians” according to the statement made by the President of Iraq, Mr. Jalal Talabani, during his recent audience with The Pope Benedict, in Rome.
God bless our Nation, and may God bless all those who are currently engaged on the ground in our homeland (Beth Nahrain) in pursue of our national rights, so that our people CaldeanAssyrianSyriac can live in peace, freedom and security.
Long live His Grace Mar Bawai Soro for teaching us about love, care and unity. We love you and support your wisdom in advocating unity for our church and nation.
New Book in Armenian on Classical Syriac
The Yerevan State University Press has released a book entitled ‘Classical Syriac’ (in Armenian language) authored by Arman Akopian, a diplomat in the service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, who also teaches Semitic languages at the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Yerevan.
This is the second grammar by the same author; the first – ‘Modern Hebrew’ – has been published by the Yerevan State University Press in 2003.
‘Classical Syriac’ counts about 500 pages of A4 format, and consists of a preface, a vast essay on the history of Syriac, 8 introductory and 40 main lessons, appendices, verbal paradigms, Syriac/Armenian and Armenian/Syriac dictionaries (more than 3000 words each).
There is also a reader, which contains a big number of texts of different genres, such as ‘The life of St. Ephraem the Syrian’, ‘The Story of Ahikar the Wise’, ‘Flood in Edessa’, ‘King Abgar and Jesus Christ’, ‘Statutes of the School of Nisibis’, fables from ‘Kalila and Dimna’, excerpts from the ‘Book of Laughable Stories’ by Gregory Bar Hebraeus, chapters from Old and New Testaments, church hymns and others.
There are also fables, tales, excerpts from the ‘Book of Laughable Stories’, texts composed by the author himself. The grammar is not overloaded by mechanical exercises, main accent being made on translations from Armenian into Syriac.
The book uses all three Syriac scripts – Serto, Estrangela and Nestorian. It does not follow strictly any of the two traditional Syriac systems of spelling and pronunciation – Eastern (Nestorian) and Western (Jacobite), and equally presents both, though some preference has been given to Eastern standard, which better preserves the original Aramaic dialect of Edessa on which the Classical Syriac is based.
The book has been sponsored by the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO in pursuance of the obligations taken by Armenia in the field of preservation of cultural heritage of national minorities, encouragement of multilingualism and cultural diversity.
The book provides Armenian Assyrians with a unique chance to familiarise themselves with the language of their abundant cultural and spiritual heritage, the language that had been taken away from them for many decades.
The author can be contacted at email@example.com.
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