Skip to comments.3,000 Assyrians Received into the Catholic Church
Posted on 05/12/2008 5:25:02 AM PDT by Petrosius
Five days later, Mar Bawai was suspended by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church. The story behind this, as well as the full text of the paper on papal primacy that Mar Bawai had presented to the Synod, can be found here.
The Church of the East attributes a prominent role to Saint Peter and a
significant place for the Church of Rome in her liturgical, canonical and
Patristic thoughts. There are more than 50 liturgical, canonical and Patristic
citations that explicitly express such a conviction. The question before us
therefore is, why there must be a primacy attributed to Saint Peter in the
Church? If there is no primacy in the universal church, we shall not be able to
legitimize a primacy of all the Catholicos-Patriarchs in the other apostolic
churches. If the patriarchs of the apostolic churches have legitimate authority
over their own respective bishops it is so because there is a principle of
primacy in the universal Church. If the principle of primacy is valid for a
local Church (for example, the Assyrian Church of the East), it is so because it
is already valid for the universal church. If there is no Peter for the
universal church there could not be Peter for the local Church. If all the
apostles are equal in authority by virtue of the gift of the Spirit, and if the
bishops are the successors of the Apostles, based on what then one of these
bishops (i.e., the Catholicos-Patriarchs) has authority over the other
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 Abdishos 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 Abdishos Synodical legislation in his Nomocanon?
Indeed that is a miracle of God!
OK, this is in the US!! When I first read the article I thought that this was in Iraq or Syria, or some place, until I clicked on the link.
This hierarch looks like a disobedient, prideful schismatic to me (and a simplistic “theologian”). Rome has been fishing in some troubled waters here and I must say that I see no good coming from this.
Well, I hope The Church didn’t go about trying to break up the Assyrian Church further — however, do note that it may be advantageous for all to move into the Chaldean Church in the Catholic Church — more power in numbers.
Well Kolokotronis, I think Cronos statement is consistent with mine. Notice that the Assyrian Group entered into Communion with the Chaldean Catholic Church, and thus is now in Full Communion with the Catholic Church. The Chaldeans have been very loyal to Rome while at the same time faithful to their Antiochene-East Syrian Tradition. Thus, perhaps this could be a way that can eventually bring all the Assyrians into Full Communion with Rome, via the Chaldean Catholic Church. For example, is this new Assyrian Group can show its fellow Assyrians that Communion with Rome can be entered into without compromising their Eastern Liturgical and Theological Tradition.
On the contrary, it takes a great deal of humility, especially on the part of a Bishop, to submit to the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the interests of achieving full ecclesial communion with the Holy See.
From his presentations given in public in several Chaldean communities on the West Coast, I saw nothing "prideful" about this very soft-spoken and sincere hierarch.
Nor, from people involved in this whole process, was there any "fishing" going on on the part of Rome. This bishop and his people took the initiative and, AS ALWAYS IN MY EXPERIENCE, the Catholic authorities were very measured in their response to these initiatives.
And, finally, I suppose those in communion with the Holy See and Orthodox Christians would have very different definitions of "schismatic."
This will shake up the mideast, no?
Seems as though there is some controversy here, however.
Funny, just this morning I got a call from someone involved in the dialog between Orthodoxy and Rome asking if I had seen this article, or one like it. Apparently this is causing all sorts of trouble, especially in Constantinople and Moscow. As of about 2 hours ago the sentiment seemed to be to call off any further discussions with Rome until this apparent expansion of Rome’s Uniate solution can be examined. More troubling is the G2 that Rome was warned that there could be trouble from the embrace of this disobedient hierarch if Rome went forward. Looks like Rome doesn’t care what at least some major Orthodox hierarchs think. I told my caller I wasn’t surprised.
Is it your impression that the Orthodox have EVER cared what Rome thinks?
Is Alexy II anyone’s idea of a “gracious partner” in ecumenical dialogue?
How about the Greek hierachs demanding that John Paul II “do penance” before he’d be given permission to visit Greece? Ever read the thoughts of the Athos monks or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia regarding us?
I’m sorry, but it seems to me that when it comes to ecumenism between our Churches, it’s almost always a one-way street, and not Rome’s way, by the way.
Let’s be honest, EVERYTHING that happens is a cause - or rather, an excuse - for the Orthodox side to call off dialogue.
And when it comes to the “Uniate Solution,” you’d have to go a long way to match Moscow’s complicity with Joseph Stalin’s “Uniate Solution.”
Disobedient to whom? I thought that all bishops were equal. If the Bishop of Constantinople can break union with the Bishop of Rome, why can not Bishop Mar Bawai Soro re-establish it?
You mean to tell me that Rome should refuse to accept into communion any Orthodox bishops when they approach on their own initiative. And what authority do either Constantinople or Moscow have over a bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in the first place?
“You mean to tell me that Rome should refuse to accept into communion any Orthodox bishops when they approach on their own initiative.”
“And what authority do either Constantinople or Moscow have over a bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in the first place?”
BTW, in all honesty, I am glad this has happened since to my way of thinking, a way which is shared by at least a few other Orthodox, the dialogs have ignored the true nature of the current ecclesiology of the Latin Church in favor of discussions of what it should or would be in a reunited Church. This sort of action on the part of Rome reminds the hierarchs of present reality, which is a good thing.
As for ecumenism being a one way street when it comes to orthodoxy, well, I think that’s a bit of a stretch but it isn’t completely unfair. The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox laity, monastics and lower clergy are opposed to any reunion with the Latin Church. At the present time this notion is pretty much exclusively the province of the hierarchs. Actions like this one with this sliver of the Assyrian Church and its disobedient hierarch means that some get to tell the hierarchs “told ya so”. Its not that Orthodox people and monastics and lower clergy, as a general proposition, bear any intense animosity to Rome, not anymore anyway. Its just that most Orthodox folk really see no need for, nor do they have any desire for, reunion with Rome even on Orthodoxy’s terms, let alone on anything approaching Rome’s. Most, I suspect, take the Moscow position that we can be allies without submitting to the immediate, universal jurisdiction of an infallible bishop in Rome. In the meantime we should leave each other alone.
Is the sentiment you referr to the sentiment of some layman who doesn’t like the fact that the Bishop and the 3,000 Assyrians chose communion with Rome.
Lets look at some historical context, the Assyrian Church has not been in communion with the Undivided West and East since about 410 AD, which was befor the Council of Ephesus. They were under the Antiochene Primacy, which was stated in Canon 6 of the Council of Nicea, but broke communion from Antioch and established their own Assyrian Patriarch.
So the issue is why would the Orthdox Churches get upset about a Church that has in fact, never been under an Orthodox Patriarch, or if they were, it would be the Antiochene Patriarch, of which there is both a Melkite-Catholic one and and an Orthodox one, and relations between those two Churches are great.
Regardless, the Assyrian Church of the East has never been under the Patriarch of Constantinopile, which was not recognized as a Primatial See until the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, and most certainly, Patriarch Alexy has no dawg in this fight as Moscow can in no way claim that the Assyrian Church should come under its Jurisdiction.
I will take this one step further, the Patriarch of the Armenian Church, which has not been in Full communion with Rome or the East since 451 AD (Chalcedon) just spent 3 days with Rome in dialogue. If the Armenian Church chooses to enter Full Communion with the Bishop of Rome, why would the Orthodox Church get upset given the Armenians have their own autonomous Church, which has not been in Communion with Rome or Constantinopile for over 1,500 years.
You’ve missed the point, as have the others on this thread.
The issue is that Rome has accepted a disobedient hierarch from an Oriental Orthodox Church into one of its Eastern Rite Churches at a time when the hierarchs of the Assyrian Church were exercising their appropriate jurisdiction to discipline the man. The fact that the Assyrian Church is “monophysite” and has been out of communion for 1600 years is neither here nor there. In fact, by economia, Oriental Orthodox have been allowed to receive the sacraments in Orthodox Churches and vice versa for some years now so the schism between the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox is not as you suppose.
Rome’s actions speak about the intrusive power claimed and asserted by the Vatican in the affairs of another particular church. This isn’t a priest or two or a few parishioners leaving one particular church for another. This is a hierarch under discipline. That’s the difference and that’s what makes this a matter of concern.
Finally, the sentiments were not expressed to me by a lay person or a member of the lower clergy.
So the Bishop presents a paper about the Primacy of Rome and the hope for Full Communion with Rome, and Five days later he is disciplined. One wonders what the “politics behind the scenes” were really about? I think the Assyrians and the Chaldeans in One “sui juris” Church is a “good thing” for the Iraqi Christians. It seems to me at least, some Orthodox are not happy that an Eastern Bishop, and one who I repeat, has not been in “Full Communion” with either Rome or Constantinopile for 1,600 years, presented an argument to his fellow Assyrian Bishops that supported communion with Rome, rather than communion with an Orthodox Patriarch. Thus, IMO, this is more about politics, than doctrine.
As for the sharing of the sacraments between the Assyrians and the Eastern Orthdox, that is a good thing, but the Catholic Church has no doctrinal statement preventing Assyrians receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments in the Catholic Church. In fact, the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM) clearly state that Assyrians and the other Oriental Churches that are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox are welcome to participate in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. So, on that point, the Catholic Church’ relation with the Assyrians is no different than the Eastern Orthodox relationship with the Assyrians.
So when we get down to it, is the real problem here that this Bishop has long been an advocate for Full Communion with Rome and thus his actions might result in other Eastern Churches that have not been in Full Communion with either Rome or Constantinopile to seek full Communion wiht Rome rather than Constantinopile?
“So the Bishop presents a paper about the Primacy of Rome and the hope for Full Communion with Rome, and Five days later he is disciplined.”
Did you read the paper? Its the work of theological simpleton. A first year doctoral candidate in theology would be flunked for writing such jejune drivel. I know what he is trying to say, I think, and I think I agree with him at least to a point but that isn’t the “point”. His Synod reviewed the matter (and apparently previous antics on his part, like refusal of reassignment to a see which needed a hierarch more than where he is), gave him a chance to straighten out and in exchange got defiance. They disciplined and he decamped for Rome having taken a number of shots at the presiding hierarch on the way out the door. Very, very bad ecclesiology. Its also very, very bad ecclesiastical politics. It seems that the fact that this is about politics rather than “doctrine” bothers you. C, 99% of this stuff, at Rome or elsewhere is about politics. Don;t be naive.
“So when we get down to it, is the real problem here that this Bishop has long been an advocate for Full Communion with Rome and thus his actions might result in other Eastern Churches that have not been in Full Communion with either Rome or Constantinopile to seek full Communion wiht Rome rather than Constantinopile?”
No, what we have here is a disobedient hierarch avoiding canonically imposed discipline and Rome providing a way for him to do that. C, can you understand that that sort of behavior is precisely what sets the Orthodox off?
What really is seen here is that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that is calling an ancient branch of the Christian faith ( the 3,000 Assyrians ) are simply obeying the call by this same Holy Spirit to come home to Rome in unity. This is the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.
Plus with the threat of Islamofacism in the Middle East, to have an ancient church return home to Rome such as this Assyrian community, this will preserve an ancient Christian rite.
“What really is seen here is that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that is calling an ancient branch of the Christian faith ( the 3,000 Assyrians ) are simply obeying the call by this same Holy Spirit to come home to Rome in unity.”
Well, BG, we don’t see it that way. We see it as a magnificent, contemporary example of Roman intrusion into the affairs of a particular church. It was just such a sort of intrusion which lead to the Great Schism. Some Orthodox hierarchs, in their understandable zeal for unity, seemed to want to forget that behavior. They wonlt be able to now as the matter is being presented to at least three patriarchial synods as part of the ongoing oversight of the dialog process. My prediction is that there will be a pause at least in the dialogs.
“This is the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17.”
Now you see, BG, we believe that that unity will be found in Rome shedding its pretensions to rule the Church with an iron fist and humbly returning to the Orthodoxy it spurned in 1063.
“Now you see, BG, we believe that that unity will be found in Rome shedding its pretensions to rule the Church with an iron fist and humbly returning to the Orthodoxy it spurned in 1063.”
It was really the other way around, the Orthodox broke away from Rome in 1063. As it was said in the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus said to Peter that “he is the rock Jesus will build His Church on”. The Pope is the sucessor of St.Peter who did go to Rome to preach the Gospel and to give his life up there. These are the historic facts.
Count me among those who don’t really understand, Kolokotronis. If the bishop was Eastern Orthodox, that would be one thing, but given that he was in a church you ALREADY presumably believe to be disobedient, why would you care whether or not he hops from one disobedient church to the other? Why would you care if he’s disobeying a disobedient superior? It all sounds rather petty to me.
In any case, if you all believe that Rome would ever refuse communion to any individual or group of individuals who are willing to accept her teachings and enter into her, we might as well give up right now. She would not and could not any more than Noah would have refused a person who wanted to go onto the Ark and save himself from the flood. It has nothing to do with an intrusion in anyone’s affairs; it has to do with a group of people wanting to enter into the Church and the Church not refusing. If this bishop had wanted to enter into communion with the Orthodox Church would her bishops have said, “Ah, well, no. That’s bad politics. Just keep being in schism, thank you.” This makes not a bit of sense to me. Maybe the theologies of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are more different than I thought.
This is most unfortunate. It was my understanding that we were finally coming together, and to have this setback is a disappointment.
Hey, I understand your point to a degree. If this were in fact say a Romanian Orthodox Bishop who did the same thing, I think Rome would not have handled it in the same way. But in cases where Rome is dealing with Eastern Churches that split either before the Council of Ephesus in 431 (e.g. Assyrians) or Chalcedon 451 (Armenians), Rome sees the matter differently. The Katholicos/Patriarch of the Armenians going back to the joint declaration that was signed back in 1997 or 1998 with Rome and Pope John Paul II has clearly stated that there dialogue with Rome is to bring about Full Communion between Rome and the Armenians. Now, granted, I think Rome would like it to be “corporate Re-union” with the entire Armenian Church in tact, but I think Rome is pursuing Full Communion with the Armenian Church independent of its dialogue with the Orthodox Church. On this point, do at least agree.
However, with respect to the Orthodox, I think you are correct and I would never want to see a Bishop of an Orthodox Church do something on his own apart from the rest of his particular Church. For example, there was an internet rumor going around in the late 1990s that the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch wanted to enter into Full Communion with Rome, but Pope John Paul II said that Full Communion with the Orthodox can only happen when the Patriarch of Constantinopile is ready to agree. Now, I don’t know if this is factually true in every detail, but I do remember it going around the internet during the time Pope John Paul II met with the Romanian Patriarch.
Are you familiar with this story on the Orthodox end? Anyway, your point with respect to the Eastern Orthodox CHurch, I agree with you, but for the Eastern Apostolic Churches not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, I see it somewhat differently.
Anyway, I hope this does not turn into a Catholic/Orthodox polemic. On my part, I am not interested in that and have always defended the Orthodox Church when it, along with the Catholic Church is attacked by some of the more Fundamentalist Protestants here.
“It was really the other way around, the Orthodox broke away from Rome in 1063.”
Indeed, all, that’s ALL the other patriarchates were sinful and wrong and Rome was right. OK. That’s why there won’t be a reunion in our lifetimes, BG nor in that of our grandchildren.
Dear Kolokotronis, I beseech you to let some time go by and think about this issue again. There must be a way for us to end our differences and come together.
Really, does it matter who broke from whom. For the record, it wasn’t the Pope who did anything, it was the upstart Cardinal who issued an excommunication to the Patriarch of COnstantinopile. Regardless, there were enough sins on both sides.
“If the bishop was Eastern Orthodox, that would be one thing, but given that he was in a church you ALREADY presumably believe to be disobedient, why would you care whether or not he hops from one disobedient church to the other? Why would you care if hes disobeying a disobedient superior? It all sounds rather petty to me.”
But we don’t believe that the Oriental Orthodox are disobedient, CH. By economia, we can receive the sacraments in their churches and they in ours. This is not at all true with Romans as they are not allowed to receive the sacraments in either the orthodox or the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Oriental Orthodox are members of The Church, The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They are not “ecclesial groups”. Rome grabbing for a disobedient hierarch and thereby frustrating canonical discipline is just too typical of Rome as we see things. This was a very stupid thing to do if Rome honestly means to pursue reunion on any basis other than total submission and subjugation to Rome.
“In any case, if you all believe that Rome would ever refuse communion to any individual or group of individuals who are willing to accept her teachings and enter into her, we might as well give up right now.”
I think that’s an excellent idea. These reunion talks are getting out of hand anyway. Heaven knows there is little enough enthusiasm for submission among the Orthodox. I wonder how long Roman churches will be allowed to function in, say, Russia, after Rome announces a willingness to accept any apostate Orthodox hierarch. :)
“Maybe the theologies of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are more different than I thought.”
“If this bishop had wanted to enter into communion with the Orthodox Church would her bishops have said, Ah, well, no. Thats bad politics. Just keep being in schism, thank you.”
Now? Yes, I suspect that’s exactly what they would have said. 25 years ago it might have been different.
No, the theologies are very close. Its the medieval Frankish ecclesiology of the Roman Church which is at odds with the rest of The Church and therein lies, as it has for 1000 years, the rub.
“There must be a way for us to end our differences and come together.”
I don't believe that there will be reunion short of the Second Coming.
Praise God! This is wonderful news!
Why do you believe this to be so?
I hope you are wrong.
“As for ecumenism being a one way street when it comes to orthodoxy, well, I think thats a bit of a stretch but it isnt completely unfair. The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of Orthodox laity, monastics and lower clergy are opposed to any reunion with the Latin Church... Its not that Orthodox people and monastics and lower clergy, as a general proposition, bear any intense animosity to Rome, not anymore anyway. Its just that most Orthodox folk really see no need for, nor do they have any desire for, reunion with Rome even on Orthodoxys terms,...”
What do you say to this, Kolokotronis?
Please note. I'm quoting Kolokotronis.
Yes, I understand.
Oh well, too bad. Unity would be nice, but when not refusing a convert equals “grabbing” for apostates and “frustrating canonical discipline,” it’s clear that petty partisanship and provincialism still hold too much sway. It looks like the ball’s in the Orthodox court, and they aren’t even particularly interested in swinging. Let’s do this again in another 1000 years.
“...this apparent expansion of Romes Uniate solution can be examined.”
Whoa! Expansion of Rome’s Uniate solution? Oh, please, come on! This man and his priests and faithful wanted in. Was he supposed to be received by the Roman Church rather than the Chaldean Church?
And what about Orthodoxy’s own “uniate” solution? Didn’t know you had one? Sure, they’re called “Western Orthodox” parishes.
“This isnt a priest or two or a few parishioners leaving one particular church for another. This is a hierarch under discipline. Thats the difference and thats what makes this a matter of concern.”
Except that he seems to be doing this out of principle - he seems to really believe in unity with the pope. How can he be turned away?
True the sins of disunity is to be found on both sides. Just was posting what I was taught in regards to the history of the Christian faith.
For the record, I agree the Primacy of the Church of Rome is something that was willed by God and is important for the Unity and mission of the Universal Church. So Doctrinally speaking, I think spliting with Rome was not a good thing for the Orthodox to do. However, not having the fullness of the Eastern Tradition hurt the Church in the 2nd millenium as well.
Still, wounds to disunity are always the consequence of sin by human beings, and of that, both Catholic and Orthodox clergy and political leaders share in it. That was the point I clumsily made.
That is why I take an interest in studying up on those Eastern rites as much as I can since they have a great heritage as well. Also this fighting is not helping the Christian faith at a major crossroads with the dangers of a resurging Islam.
Protestants are always told that for the most part the east and western Church share the same basic views. If the east and west really are in peace and harmony, enjoying the same “faith”, then why would this be such a big to-do? Why is this such a “miracle”?
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“Except that he seems to be doing this out of principle - he seems to really believe in unity with the pope. How can he be turned away?”
This man apparently has some history of disobedience to his Synod quite aside from his opinions on communion with Rome and his confused, though perhaps correct, conception of primacy. In any event, he wasn’t being disciplined simply because he believes communion with Rome is important. There’s more to it. What Rome has done is slap a relatively small Oriental Orthodox Church across the face. The fact is, that’s cause for concern and that’s just what it is causing even as we write back and forth.
sitetest: “I don’t believe that there will be reunion short of the Second Coming”
Why do you believe this to be so?
I hope you are wrong.
T, sitetest is likely closer to correct than anyone who thinks any of us will live to see a reunion. I am convinced to the depths of my soul that as I said, the Orthodox laity don’t want it and in any event will never allow it to be imposed on us by our hierarchs. We simply have neither the need nor the desire for it. This is not to say that we cannot work out the few theological differences which remain between us nor does it mean that we cannot make common cause against the “world” and Mohammedanism. Actions like the one which is the subject of this thread make even that more difficult to do.
“......this apparent expansion of Romes Uniate solution can be examined.”
OK; sorry. That was unnecessary and inflamatory.
“And what about Orthodoxys own uniate solution? Didnt know you had one? Sure, theyre called Western Orthodox parishes.”
Ah yes, that little experiment of the Antiochians! Vlad, trust me on this...the overwhelming majority of Orthodox look upon that operation with extreme distaste. Anglicans who want to continue to be Anglicans shouldn’t pretend to be Orthodox and vice versa.
“It looks like the balls in the Orthodox court, and they arent even particularly interested in swinging. Lets do this again in another 1000 years.”
Your folks know the number. We’ll wait for their call!