Friday, June 01, 2012

His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin was ordained in Chicago on Sunday, May 27, 2012 in the city of Chicago at the St. George Assyrian Church of the East Church by our Patriarch, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV. We look forward to many years of his grace and leadership and offer to him our sincere congratulations and prayers in his service to our Holy Church in the days and years to come. May our Lord continue to Bless him in his new role as Bishop. 

Biography of His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of the Eastern Diocese of the United States:
Courtesy of the Voice of the East magazine published by the Archdiocese of India and the UAE. It is from the March-April 2012 issue and was written about HG Mar Paulus prior to his consecration to the Episcopal See while he was still a Chor-Bishop. It is as follows: 

Cor-bishop Paulus Benjamin was born Korosh Benyamin, to his mother Roza Jacob (daughter of the late Qasha Keshto Yakob) and to his father Yoarash Benyamin on June 24, 1968 in the village of Qala, Urmia (Iran). He was tutored in the services of our Church by the late Archdeacon Qasha Aprim Mar Yonani, and was ordained a deacon by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV on June 24, 1984 at St. George Cathedral, Tehran. Qasha Paulus received his B.A. in Social Communications from the University of Tehran in 1993. He served the military from 1993 to 1995. In 1996, he was sent for higher theological studies to Rome by His Holiness. After studying at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he received the S.T.B. in Philosophy in 1998 and the S.T.B. (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) in Theology in 2001. He was ordained a priest on September 13, 2001 at Mar Gewargis Cathedral, Chicago, by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV. He is presently a candidate for the S.T.L. (Licentiate of Sacred Theology) in Canon Law and has already finished his doctorate courses as required by the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome. In the summer of 1999, he spent 3 months with Archdeacon Yonan Youel in London, England studying Aramaic, and did a course in French language at Bisancon, France in the summer of 2002. Qasha Paulus came to the US in July of 2007 and in 2008 was appointed assistant vicar of Mar Gewargis Cathedral, Chicago. In 2009, he was appointed the vicar of said parish. On March 20, 2011, he was raised to the rank of Cor-bishop by H.G. Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California, at the directive of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.

  Source: Voice of the East magazine March 2012-April 2012 edition published by the Archiodese of India and UAE

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Young Christian in Kirkuk Abducted, Tortured and Beheaded

[http://www.asianews.it]

Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was the father of three children. He was abducted on the weekend. Negotiations for his release failed. Yesterday morning police found his body, which bore “horrific marks of torture”. In voicing his outrage, the archbishop of Kirkuk slammed this “inhuman act,” urging everyone to work together to “protect defenceless citizens”.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – An Iraqi Christian man was abducted, tortured and then beheaded. The victim was from Kirkuk, northern Iraq. Police found his body this morning. He had been kidnapped three days ago and the family had received a ransom request. However, negotiations for his release did not work out and so he was brutally murdered. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, his death is an “inhuman act” because it goes “against every human and religious principle”. Iraqi Christians have been living in a state of high tension since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, fearing possible revenge by local Muslim extremists.
Ashur Yacob Issa was 29 years old and had three children, a source in Kirkuk told AsiaNews. He was abducted three days ago for ransom. His kidnappers wanted US$ 100,000 to release him. However, negotiations with his family “did not work out”, a local Christian said.

The incident came to a terrible end this morning, when police found the young man’s body, by the side of a bridge. The body showed “horrific marks of torture”, the source said. The head had been cut off and the eyes gauged out of their socket.

The crime sent a shockwave through the city, especially in its Christian community. although the victim was kidnapped in order to get a large sum of money, the death of Osama Bin Laden by the US on 2 May has raised the tension level in the Christian community. Since then in fact, it has been living in fear of possible reprisals by Muslim extremists.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, condemned the murder of the young man, calling it an “inhuman act” that goes against “every human and religious principle”.

“No man who believes in God and respects life can commit such acts,” the prelate said.

Now Mgr Sako’s concern is for the widow and her fatherless children.

However, in a warning to the perpetrators of this act, the archbishop said, “Let them think about those who are left without a father and a husband. Even if human justice is not done, divine justice shall, sooner or later”.

Lastly, the archbishop of Kirkuk called on police and security forces officials, both local and national, to undertake joint action “so that all people of good will can work together to protect defenceless citizens.”

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A Response to Cor-Bishop Felix Shabi

By: Rev. Fr. Genard Lazar

December 3, 2010

In his recent article dated November 26, 2010 entitled “Does the Assyrian Church Understand the Sacrament of Priesthood” (Arabic) and published on the internet [1], Rev. Cor-bishop Felix Shabi attacks the Assyrian Church of the East for the recent ‘Statement of Clarification’ published by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East (dated 11 November 2010), through its Secretary His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California. [2] Cor-bishop Shabi vehemently condemns the Holy Synod’s declaration in rather derogatory terms and a demeanor not befitting a clergyman, a purported canonist, and certainly not an episcopal vicar. This article will deal with the points raised in Fr. Shabi’s interesting article on the Internet.

First and foremost: for a clergyman who claims to be the assistant of the Chaldean bishop of the Diocese of San Diego to not know the official title of the Assyrian Church of the East is truly stunning. Cor-bishop Shabi, get it right: the name of our Church is: The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East! Even your patriarch, His Beatitude Mar Emmanuel III Delly, when writing to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV always refers to us as the Assyrian Church of the East (‘Kanisat ul-Mashriq al-Ashuriya’); if your patriarch knows how to nominate our Church, then how comes it that you do not, dear cor-bishop and canonist??? The term you use in Arabic (“Al-Athuriya”) is reminiscent of the oppressive regime of Sadam Hussein and co-partisans who, in order to deny the existence of the modern Assyrians and to denigrate the Assyrian Church of the East, systematically referred to us as “Athuriyeen” or “Kanisat al-Athuriya”, as opposed to “Al-Ashuriyeen” or “Kanisat ul-Mashriq al- Ashuriya.” Therefore, kindly tell us whether you subscribe to this policy of Sadam and the Baathists, or whether you simply intend on deriding the Assyrian Church by utilizing this nomenclature; I’m sure the readers of both articles will be interested to know your opinion.

Further, your use of the term “New Calendar” after nominating the Church of the East (twice!) is also taken as an affront, because it is obvious that you aim at proclaiming that this is the Church of the East which is split according to the calendar (i.e. Gregorian and Julian), an event which took place in 1968. Well, why don’t you go a little farther back into history? Remember what happened in 1552, dear cor-bishop??? In canonical terms, that is called a ‘schism.’ Being a canonist, you should indeed know these things. Whether the Church of the East is split according to the calendar, or not, is utterly none of your business!

You must remember, dear cor-bishop, that His Holiness the Pope of Rome himself to whom you and your Church owes allegiance has repeatedly recognized His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV as the head of the Assyrian Church of the East and the heir of that ancient liturgical and theological tradition, most especially in his welcome to the Patriarch and his delegation at the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, at the General Audience on Wednesday, November 9, 1994, two days before the signing of the Common Christological Declaration on November 11; the pope declared: “Today I have the honor and the joy to have next to me a special guest, who comes from afar. He is a brother whom I welcome in the love of Christ—the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, accompanied by three bishops, members of the Holy Synod of his Church. He is the leader of one of the most ancient and venerable Churches of the East. The language adopted by it in the liturgy is the closest to the language in which Jesus expressed himself.” Later, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI declared at the Vatican on June 21, 2007, during the meeting between the pope and His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV: “The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God's saving plan for all mankind. At the time of the early Church, the Christians of these lands made a remarkable contribution to the spread of the Gospel, particularly through their missionary activity in the more remote areas of the East.” These words are brought to your attention, dear cor-bishop, just so that you are made aware of the estimation of the last two popes in regards to the Assyrian Church of the East and her patriarch.

Now, on to the more theological and canonical matters. You speak about the Assyrian Church of the East’s ‘ignorance’ as to the meaning of the sacrament of priesthood, and hence the title of your article ‘Does the Assyrian Church of the East understand the meaning of the sacrament of priesthood?’ The theological understanding of this particular sacrament includes both a theological and a canonical discussion. Now, it is well noted that the sacrament of ‘Holy Orders’ in the Latin theological is indelible, meaning that once given (validly), they imposed a spiritual ‘mark’ on the soul that cannot be erased. You mentioned cor-bishop that in your studies on dogma, you learned that the following sacraments are indelible according to the Latin tradition: 1) baptism 2) confirmation 3) holy orders. Although I am very glad to learn that in the Latin theological and sacramental system the priesthood imprints an indelible mark on the soul of the one ordained, however, you must know be aware of and recognize that this issue of the suspension and excommunication of Ashur Soro is based on the theological and sacramental system of the Assyrian Church of the East, and not that of the Latin West or the Roman Catholic Church. Again, although in the Latin tradition ordination imparts an indelible mark, that is not the case in the theology of the Church of the East.

Now, let us ask: what is the meaning and importance of the sacrament of priesthood for the Assyrian Church of the East? First, Mar Abdisho of Nisibis (d. 1318) mentions in his Marganitha (Part IV, Chapter II), states the priesthood is the most important prerequisite for any valid sacrament in the Church, he who has “…attained the priesthood rightly, according to the requirements of the Church. ”This is very important, and it means only he can be called a priest who has attained the priesthood (i.e. has been ordained) legitimately and canonically. Why is that an important point? Because the priesthood, according to the theology of Mar Narsai, is the office/faculty of mediation between God and man, and the priest is the instrument of the Holy Spirit in effecting the sacraments (rendering them spiritually efficacious and valid) and in administering them to the faithful for their salvation and as means of God’s grace to us.

In the sacramental, liturgical and canonical tradition of the Assyrian Church of the East, the function of the ordained priesthood and its liturgical/sacramental ministry is only understood and can only operate within the context of the holy Church. This was already proclaimed in the liturgical theology of Mar Narsai of Nisibis (399-502) who refers to the sacraments as the ‘Sacraments of the Church’ and who call the priest the ‘vessel/instrument of the Holy Spirit,’ in that it the Holy Spirit himself who acts in and effects the sacraments, while the priest is only the vessel in the hands of the Spirit. Therefore, priesthood and the function of all of the grades of priestly ministry can only function within the Church, and as a communion of the ordained with and at the head of the Body of Christ which is the Church. Once you are out of the Church, you are out of that theological, liturgical and sacramental communion. For the simple question is: ‘If you are outside the bounds and communion of the Church, where and how will you exercise your priesthood and its ministerial function?’ You are a priest as long as you area minister in and of the Church. The early ecumenical councils already determined and decreed that presbyters and deacons were not to be ordained except for a specific parish (whether urban or rural), or shrine of the martyrs. In like manner, no bishop may be ordained except for a specific diocese. All you have to do, dear cor-bishop, is open the Takhsa d-Syamida and see that in the ordination of deacons, presbyters and bishops (and their various sub--‐ rankings), the archdeacon proclaims the name of the one being ordained and declares for what diocese or parish or city the candidate is being ordained. During the deacon’s ordination, the archdeacon proclaims: “Lift up your eyes to the highest heights, and beseech mercy from God the compassionate, for NN. the sub-deacon who is ordained and ordered deacon for the Church of God to which he is set apart…” [3] Similarly, for the priest’s ordination it is proclaimed by the archdeacon: “Lift up your eyes to the highest heights, and beseech mercy from God the compassionate, for NN. the deacon, who is ordained and ordered presbyter for the Church of God to which he is set apart…” [4] Finally, and most importantly, to illustrate the point that the three grades of the clergy are ordained for and assigned to a particular ecclesial community wherein they may exercise their priesthood, during the consecration of bishops in the rite of the Church of the East, the archdeacon again proclaims: “Lift up your minds to the highest heights, and beseech mercy from God the compassionate, for NN. the presbyter and hermit who is ordained and ordered bishop for the city of NN. (or for the Church of God in the country of NN.), and for all the territory to which he is set apart; pray for him…”

Early on, Nicea declared that there were to be no vagabond clergy. Therefore, one who has been deposed from the clerical state, laicized and excommunicated ceases to function as a minister of Christ and as a minister and vessel of the Holy Spirit in the Church, for the ministry of the edification and sanctification of the baptized faithful. If he is outside of the communion of the Holy Church and the absolving Mysteries, how then can he be considered to have an indelible mark upon his soul? What will he do with that indelible mark? In what manner will he make use of it and how will it function? For this reason, the ecclesiology of both the Assyrian Church of the East and the Eastern Orthodox Churches do not admit the ‘indelible mark’ for the priesthood.

Once a cleric has been deposed or excommunicated, he can no longer make use of the name, dignity or function of the priesthood. To say that notwithstanding all of this, the ordination which he has received is ‘indelible’ is indeed a moot point. Why, because simply the deposed cleric can never function again in the priesthood, and in the canonical tradition of the Assyrian Church of the East even if he were to be forgiven, he could only enter the church as a layman and receive Communion (unless, of course, he were found guilty of heresy, in which case he would be anathematized). In the famous case where the Patriarch Mar Aba I ‘the Great’ (540-552) restored order in the Church after the schism that occurred between Narsai and Elisha the anti-patriarchs who preceded Mar Paul the Patriarch, the schismatic bishop Timai bar Dadisho (a bishop in the province of Prath Maishan), was deposed by Mar Aba I in his Synod of 544. The acta of this Synod read: “Just as Timai bar Dadisho, who became an evil servant in the Church of God, by means of the divisions and strifes which he caused, they (Mar Aba and the bishops in communion with him) bound, deposed and separated from the rank, ministry, title and the entire administration of the episcopacy forever…” [5]

Further instances of the ‘loosening’ and ‘deposition’ of the clergy from all priestly dignity and ranking can be seen in canons 3 and 5 of the Synod of Mar Yosip the Catholicos (554 AD). [6]

Yet another instance of the ‘loosening’ from holy orders can be seen in the Collection of Synodical Canons of Mar Abdisho of Nisibis, where it is indicated that a priest, cor-bishop or archdeacon who is elected and called to the episcopacy and does not submit may be prohibited from mixing with the community of the faithful (though, this is not the case for a layman who is called to the episcopacy). The reason for this is because the three grades of the priesthood noted above, once given (through ordination) cannot be loosed “except by death or by transgression [of the canons];” see Memra 8, Chapter [7].

The Canon 68 of the collection known as the Apostolic Canons forbids the repeating of an ordination for the same person, however, this does not amount to a declaration of the ‘indelibility’ of the priestly office. In fact, the concept that ordination imparts an ‘indelible mark’ is really a concoction of the Scholastic theologians of the West, and was only formally pronounced by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent (also known as the ‘Catholic Counter-Reformation’). It is, therefore, an ecclesial gift, charism and ministry, and does not impart an ontological change on the soul of the ordained.

At this point, it would seem quite necessary to bring forth to light some canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches, under which our sister Chaldean Catholic Church would function. As you are aware, being a student of canon law, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches was promulgated by the late Pope John Paul II on October 18, 1990. I refer here to the bi-lingual Latin and English edition published by the ‘Canon Law Society of America.’ These canons, as the readers will see as well, clearly indicate that a cleric (whether bishop or priest) once stripped of the clerical status or deposed from the clerical state ceases to function as such.

First, let us look at what the code of canon law which governs all of the Eastern Catholic Churches has to say in regards to a cleric losing his clerical status in the Catholic Church. Let me list these canons for your dear cor-bishop:

1. Canon 394, par. 2: “A cleric, however, loses the clerical state…by the legitimate infliction of the penalty of dismissal…” [7]

2. Canon 395: “A cleric loses the clerical state according to the norms of the law, loses with it the rights proper to the clerical state nor is he further bound by the obligations of the clerical state without prejudice, however, to cann. 396 (he may not be dispensed from celibacy); he is forbidden to exercise the power of order without prejudice to cann. 725 [the possibility to absolve sinners] and 735, par. 2 [the possibility to hear confessions]; he is by the law itself deprived of all offices, ministries, functions and any delegated power. ” [8]

3. Canon 1433, par. 2: “A cleric deposed from the clerical state is deprived of all offices, ministries or other functions, ecclesiastical pensions and any delegated power; he becomes disqualified for them; he is forbidden to exercise the power of orders; he cannot be promoted to higher holy orders, and is equivalent to lay persons in respect to canonical affairs…” [9]
Second, let us take a look at what the canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches say in regards to excommunication:
1. Canon 1434, par. 1: “In addition to all things mentioned in can. 1431, par. 1, a major excommunication forbids one to receive other sacraments, to administer sacraments and sacramentals, to exercise any offices, ministries and functions, to place acts of governance, which if they are nonetheless placed, are null by law itself.” [10]

2. Canon 1434, par. 2: “One punished with a major excommunication is to be turned away from participating in the Divine Liturgy and in other public celebrations of divine worship.” [11]

3. Canon 1434, par. 3: “One punished with a major excommunication is forbidden to make use of privileges previously granted. He cannot validly obtain dignities, offices, ministries, or any other function in the Church or a pension, and he cannot acquire the revenues attached to them…” [12]
Third, the other matter of importance is the fact that Ashur Soro was not subordinate to the authority of the Catholicos-Patriarch as his immediate superior, nor to the Holy Synod (all of the bishops of the Church in communion and being presided over by the catholicos-patriarch) as the legislative body of the Church. Again, in the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the canon against insubordination states:
1. Canon 1437: “One who refuses subjection to the supreme authority of the Church, or who is subject to it refuses communion with the Christian faithful, though legitimately admonished does not obey, is to be punished as a schismatic with a major excommunication.” [13]

2. Canon 1466: “One who disobeys his own hierarch when the latter legitimately issues orders or prohibitions, and who after a warning persists in such disobedience, is to be punished as delinquent with an appropriate penalty.” [14]

3 Canon 1447, par. 1: “One who incites sedition and hatred toward any hierarch whatsoever or provokes his subjects to disobedience, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty, not excluding major excommunication, especially if the offense was committed against a patriarch (or indeed against the Roman Pontiff).” [15]
Looking at the above-mentioned canons from the code promulgated by the pope for the Eastern Catholic Churches themselves, dear cor-bishop, let us apply these canons to the case of Ashur Soro.

Soro was suspended by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East on November 11, 2005 for refusing to submit to the authority of the Catholicos-Patriarch as the head of the Church, and to the whole body of the Holy Synod as the legislating body of the Church. According to the canon laws of the Assyrian Church of the East, any sacramental act carried out by a suspended cleric is null and void. The distinction in the tradition of the Latin West, that a sacrament celebrated by a suspended cleric is valid but illicit (illegal, canonically speaking) does not exist in the canonical tradition of the Assyrian Church of the East. Since you claim to be a canonist, you should be aware of the “Sources” (fonti) of the canons contained in the Eastern Code and of which the Chaldean Catholic Church claims to lay hold to! Even if Soro claimed that his suspension was not just, which it most certainly was, then Canon 23 of the Synod of Patriarch Mar Yosip (554 AD) would apply: “Again, it was the will of the council of bishops that when a deacon is suspended by a presbyter, or a presbyter is suspended by his visitor, or a visitor by a chorepiscopus, or a chorepiscopus by a bishop, or a bishop by a metropolitan, or a metropolitan by the patriarch, even if it is claimed that he who is suspended was suspended improperly, nevertheless the suspension should be observed with diligence. He who was suspended should remain in his binding and seek judgment in the council of the community before those who are higher in rank than the one who bound and the one bound…” In any case, Soro was to remain under the ecclesiastical penalty of suspension (Kilyana), until the next Synod would re-examine his case, were he to appeal the former suspension.

The Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East took the next step of formally deposing Ashur Soro from the rank of episcopacy, and depriving him of all ecclesiastical faculties and honor, in its decree of excommunication and laicization dated October 31, 2008. The decree of excommunication and deposition from the priesthood (Qatharasis) reads: “The suspended bishop Ashur Andrious Soro is hereby pronounced entirely excommunicated and stripped of the episcopal office and of all priestly dignity which he had received in the Assyrian Church of the East. From henceforth, he is utterly laicized and retains absolutely no canonical or spiritual right or privilege of any other sort in the Assyrian Church of the East.” What this meant was that from the date of the Decree of Qatharasis (Oct. 31, 2008), Soro was officially declared to be a layman in the Church. The Synod had given him almost 3 whole years to offer his repentance before God and the Church, in the hopes that he might be forgiven; but alas, it was to no avail! The decree of deposition pronounced on Soro is binding permanently (whereas the suspension would have been temporary, had Soro repented). The canon laws of the Assyrian Church of the East regarding Qatharasis are very clear; to name but a few:
1. “Qatharais is the deposition from the clerical state, [as] one who is dead who does not receive life, and is only to be decreed concerning priests and the head of priests (i.e. bishops), and the one who is given Qatharasis, he shall not be clad with the dignity of which he formerly had, even after his repentance, at all” (Collection of Synodical Canons of Mar Abdisho of Nisibis: Part II, Memra I, Chapter 22).

2. “Concerning those who are anathematized, excommunicated, and utterly dismissed from the ministry of their priesthood, that they may not be received. A bishop, then, or a metropolitan who once has been cut off and cast out by the great Synod, or a presbyter or deacon by their bishop in a council of priests and deacons, as those who have been tried and convicted for their faults, no longer ought to be admitted to the ministry of which they were justly stripped, and there may no longer be mercies for them—nor, indeed, when they go creeping round about and pestering and making helpers for themselves. There may not be helpers for them, and there may not be for them a hope of being accepted, nor may a place for compassion be found for them. The prior confusions which came about through the rebellious and worthless may no longer be, such a brought about the confusion of the divine laws and paternal canons. Those who are excommunicated and dismissed by the sentence which once went out against them from the great synod may not again be admitted in ecclesiastical assemblies by another synod, but all those as well who fellowship with them or help them shall receive the censure and suspension naturally fitting to them, especially (if), after having learned the judgment which went out against them, they still venture to assist them. This edict concerning these things was decreed also in an earlier synod by the blessed fathers” (Synod of Patriarch Mar Isho’yahb I, 587 AD, Canon 18).
Further, we read in the Synodicon Orientale (‘Eastern Synods’), that those clerics (in particular bishops) who have been bound, deposed and utterly laicized, they may continue to receive the Holy Eucharist only if they offer their penance and repent before the whole Church, to the satisfaction of and with a decree by the Holy Synod: “…may he be loosed and void from all the ranks of the priesthood, and may he be bound also from ecclesiastical fellowship until he offers repentance and it is seen to the Synod of Bishops, and he [may be] absolved unto the communion of the Holy Mysteries” (Synod of Patriarch Mar Yosip of 554 AD; Canon 5). [16]

As seen above, one who has been excommunicated and deposed from the priesthood of the Church ought not to be accepted by others. Further, even if he were to repent, he would only be accepted as a layman in the Church, and not as one in holy orders. Concluding, dear cor-bishop Felix, you should be aware of the patristic patrimony of your Church. Furthermore, you should know, if your purport to be a canonist, that the Assyrian Church of the East or any other Church not in full communion with Rome will judge canonical matters according to canons proper to that Church’s juridical and theological traditions. It is sincerely hoped that this brief rebuttal to the remarks of Cor-bishop Shabi will be sufficient to put to ease the concerns of the faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East, and our Chaldean Catholic brethren who have read our Holy Synod’s Statement of Clarification. Finally, the ultimate raison d’etre for the Statement was to assure all of the faithful of both Churches that the official status of Ashur Soro is that he has been deposed from all clerical dignity and excommunicated by his hierarchy, and that the Chaldean faithful should beware of receiving the sacraments from a deposed and excommunicated cleric.

References:
[1] Refer to: http://kaldaya.net/2010/Articles/11_November_2010/42_Nov26_FrFelixShabi.html
[2] Refer to the official English text at: http://news.assyrianchurch.com/clarification-from-the-secretariat-of¬the-holy-synod/789
[3] Kthawa d-Takse Kumraye [Chaldean Pontifical], (Rome, 1957), p. 135.
[4] Ibid., p. 157-158.
[5] JEAN BAPTISTE CHABOT, Synodicon Orientale, ou recueil de synods nestoriens (Paris, 1902), p. 71. See the parallel Arabic version in: YOUSIF HABBI, Majami’ Kanisat al-Mashreq [Councils of the Church of the East], (Kaslik, Lebanon: 1999) p. 241, especially point 10.
[6] op. cit. , p. 99-100 and 94; ibid., p. 302 (number 19).
[7] JOHN PAUL II, Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches [Latin-English Edition], Canon Law Society of America, English Translation (Washington D.C., 1990) p. 203.
[8] Ibid., p. 203.
[9] Ibid., pp. 684-685.
[10] Ibid., p. 685.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid., p. 687.
[14] Ibid., p. 689.
[15] Ibid.
[16] CHABOT, Synodicon Orientale, p. 100; HABBI, Majami’, p. 302.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

الفنان مالك البابلي فاجعة الكنيسه

Press Release Of The Holy Synod Of The Assyrian Church Of the East Regarding "THE RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS IN BAGHDAD"


PRESS RELEASE OF THE HOLY SYNOD OF THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST REGARDING THE RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS IN BAGHDAD.

Mourners attend funerals of Iraq church attack.


It is with deep sorrow to report that on Sunday October 31, 2010, more than 58 innocent and defenseless people were killed and over 70 severely injured during an attempt by Iraqi security forces to free more than a hundred Christians which were detained by gunmen linked to Al Qaieda. This tragic event took place during Sunday evening Mass in one of the largest churches in Baghdad, near the heavily fortified Green Zone.

According to the SITE Institute, Al-Qaida's the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack. The radical group has said all Christians in the Middle East are "legitimate targets".
"We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood," the insurgent group said in a statement posted late Tuesday on militant websites.


Among those killed were at least five women, more than seven children and two priests, according to officals and witnesses. Among the injured were at least ten women, eight children and a priest.

"They entered the church with their weapons, wearing military uniforms. They came into the prayer hall, and immediately killed the priest... We heard a lot of gunfire and explosions, and some people were hurt from falling windows, doors and debris."
One of the freed hostages, an 18 year old man said, declining to give his name, but adding that all the hostages had been huddled into the main prayer hall when the gun battles began with security forces.

Iraq's top Catholic prelate, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly has encouraged the country's remaining 1.5 million Christians to stay in the country. He called on the authorities for more protection and police and over the past week there has been a boosted military presence around Baghdad's churches.

However, Archbishop Athanasios Dawood said members of Iraq's religious minority should leave the country to escape violence directed at their community, as it appeared certain that insurgents were deliberately targeting church services.
"I say clearly and now that the Christian people should leave their beloved land of our ancestors and escape the premeditated ethnic cleansing. This is better than having them killed one by one," said Dawood, according to prepared remarks he sent to CNN.


Speaking at a service in London, he also asked the British government, and those in other European countries, to grant asylum to Christians living in Iraq.
"The Iraqi government is weak, biased, if not extremist. It does not protect us and the other minorities. It has ignored our legal rights. We ask the British government, the EU and the U.N. to protect us... in order to preserve what is left of the victims who do not carry a weapon to fight and kill," said Dawood.


It is time for President Obama administration as well as all other leaders in the world to take action to protect vulnerable religious minority communities to ensure the safety of Christians in Iraq. Also, we urged the U.N. to adopt a more generous refugee and asylum policy, including the possible resettlement of at-risk cases to the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mar Narsai Benyamin Consecrated As Bishop Of Iran

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, accompanied by one Metropolitan and five Bishops, consecrated Cor-Bishop Benyamin as Bishop of Iran. The new Bishop was assigned the episcopal name Mar Narsai Benyamin. The consecration took place in Tehran, Iran on the Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross.

For pictures of this memorable event, please see:
http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=1150664

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Commemorating All of the Assyrian Martyrs


August 7th has been designated as a Memorial Day for Assyrian Martyrs. Throughout our history, our Assyrian people have stood up for their religion, language, and national existence, bravely defended our existence even if it meant suffering and giving up their own lives to defend and protect our cultural national existence.

The lesson to be learned is that we need to dedicate ourselves to preserving our language, culture and heritage. Let us honor the Assyrian Martyrs and pray to the Lord to rest their souls and accept the sacrifices they made in the name of Him and the Assyrian nation.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

His Grace Mar Awa Visits Arbil

Ankawa ProZ.com

Here are some pictures from His Grace Mar Awa's visit to Arbil:

http://www.ankawa.com/forum/index.php/topic,417293.0.html

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day 2010




There is nothing quite like a mother. Throughout time, no one has done so much for so many with such grace. She is selfless, patient, resilient, strong and compassionate, loving and protective, generous and courageous, nurturer and a confidante, leader, resourceful, and much more. But of all the characteristics that combine to make a mother so special, perhaps the greatest of all is her innate capacity to give of herself, not hesitating to sacrifice to make life better for family and others who need to be uplifted. And when all else fails, no matter the circumstances, she's the one you can always count on.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms out there!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

His Beatitude Mar Narsai De Baz Passed Away

2010-02-14

It is with a heavy heart and deep sorrow that we regret to announce the falling asleep in the Lord of His Beatitude Mar Narsai DeBaz, Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria and Europe of the Assyrian Church of the East. His Beatitude was called to his heavenly home by the Lord at 3:00 pm Pacific Time, in the healthcare facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he was hospitalized for the past week and a half. The late Metropolitan had received the precious Body and Blood of our Lord (Qurbana Qadisha) and Khusaya, as heard the reading of the Sacred Scriptures a few hours before his passing. He was solaced by the prayers of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and brother prelates present in Phoenix and globally, as well as the prayers of all the faithful and the presence of his family members. The funeral will be conducted at Mar Gewargis Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois (USA) at a date and time that will be announced in the very near future. We ask that you kindly pray for the repose of the soul of the late Metropolitan.

+Mar Awa Royel
Secretary of the Holy Synod

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ceremonies held at the Mar Yohannan Mamdana Church (India) to appoint Joju Anto and Shaju Paulose as Archdeacons

Thrissur: Joju Anto, 43, and Shaju Paulose, 35, were on Friday appointed as archdeacons at a ceremony held at Mar Yohannan Mamdana Church (India). The Holy Synod of the Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East on Thursday unanimously decided to consecrate them as bishops with the Archdiocese of India. Consecration ceremonies will be held on Sunday.

The Holy Synod, attended by Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and prelates, continued on Friday. Metropolitans Mar Aprem (India), Mar Geevargis Sliwa (Iraq, Russia) and Mar Meelis Zaia (Australia and Newzealand); and Bishops Mar Awa Royel (Diocese of California), Mar Odisho Oraham (Diocese of Europe), Mar Aprem Natneil (Diocese-Syria), Mar Aprim Khamis (Diocese of the United States), Mar Emmanuel Yosip (Diocese of Canada) and Iskhaq Yosip (Diocese of Nohadra and Russia); are attending the Synod.

On Friday, they visited Mar Timotheus Memorial Orphanage and the Bathanya Ashram, and participated in the centenary celebrations of Mar Yohannan Mamdana Church. A reception will be accorded to the clergymen on Sunday. The Synod will continue on Monday and Tuesday.


Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com

For pictures and video, you may check:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyszIF6g43g&feature=player_embedded#

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, arrived to India to participate in the synod of the church

Thrissur: His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East, arrived in India on Wednesday to participate in the synod of the church.

The Patriarch and bishops from various countries were accorded a warm welcome at the Mart Marium Big Church here. Many believers attended the special prayers held at the church. The synod would begin on Thursday morning.

Three Metropolitans of the Church, Mar Aprem (India), Mar Gewargis Sliwa (Iraq, Russia) and Mar Meelis Zaia (Australia and New Zealand), would attend the synod. Bishops from Europe, Syria, the U.S., Canada and Russia would also participate.

Consecration of two new bishops, Fr. Joju Anto and Fr. Shaju Paulose, would be the main agenda of the synod. Consecration of the bishops-designate as archdeacons would be held at a ceremony led by Archbishop Mar Aprem on Friday.

The Patriarch and other bishops were received at the Cochin international airport by Archbishop Mar Aprem, Trusty Board chairman K. A. Johny and P.C. Chacko MP. The synod would conclude on January 19.

Source: http://www.hinduonnet.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010

The most precious thing that ever hung on a tree was Jesus Christ. God came to earth as a baby to fulfill the long awaited promise of a Savior. May your heart be lifted in praise this Christmas for the wonderful gift of Jesus and the joy He brings to our lives. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Blessed new year 2010 you all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

St. Mary Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East in Tarzana destroyed in a fire




Sad News - St. Mary Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East in Tarzana destroyed in a fire:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5WzxAweiFI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1eUYtBtgMI

Fire Does Major Damage to Church in Tarzana
KTLA News

Firefighters work to extinguish the church fire amid the smoke. (KTLA Sky 5 / October 16, 2009)

TARZANA -- St. Mary Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East Tarzana sustained significant damage in a fire Friday evening that burned as hundreds of parishioners looked on.

It took 95 firefighters about 25 minutes to put out the blaze, which was reported at 5955 N. Lindley Ave. around 6:35 p.m.

Arriving firefighters reported smoke coming from a stained-glass window at the front of the church, where a big eucalyptus tree also caught fire, according to Devin Gales if the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Most of the damage appeared to be to the front of the church, but firefighters also cut holes in the roof.

A damage estimate was unavailable early Saturday.

No injuries were reported.

The fire will be investigated by the House of Worship Task Force, which was set up years ago to examine a string of fires in predominantly black churches.

The task force includes members of the Los Angeles Fire Department, FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Copyright © 2009, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

---
Our thoughts and prayers go to all of St Mary’s parish members and all of Assyrian Church of the East members. It is indeed so heartbreaking to see one of our church buildings being destroyed like this. However, we are the church and we will rebuild it again soon. Thank God no one was injured.

Also, we have been informed that Cor-Bishop Fr. Gewargis doesn't believe nor agree that the candles were cause of the fire as the candle lighting area is safe and has been used for several years safely. We also learned that Cor-Bishop Fr. Gewargis was able to save the bread (Malka) that is used to make holy mass every week, which was in the midst of the fire. Thus, the holy bread, was not damaged and was protected by the Holy Spirit.

33rd. Patriarchal Anniversary Of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV

We offer our congratulations to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch Catholicos of the Assyrian Church of the East upon his Anniversary of the Consecration. His Holiness Mar Dinkha is deeply loved and respected by the entire church for his exceptional service, leadership and compassion. May God's blessings be on our beloved Patriarch as he continues the mission of the Holy Church.

Tkhara D' Syameeda H.H.MarDinkha IV:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGv04c4O58c&feature=related

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Valley school gives young emigres stability and hope

(DailyNews) "It's sad to think of," 17-year-old Leon Thomasian said last week as he pondered the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. For the young or the old - regardless of their politics or religion - war dramatically alters destinies, he said.

Leon, who was studying to be a being classically trained as a pianist, didn't touch a piano for years after he and his family fled from Baghdad to Syria. He thought his dreams of performing as a professional had forever slipped through his fingers.

"A person wants something so bad," he said. " And then he has to wait years for it."

Nearly 2.5 million Iraqi refugees continue to struggle to survive outside of their homeland, most of them with temporary permission to remain in Jordan or Syria, according to the human-rights organization Amnesty International.

Hundreds of thousands of them were Assyrian, Chaldean, Armenian or other minority communities in Iraq.

The refugees lost access to housing, health care and education, and they continued to live in constant fear of being returned to Iraq, where they face death threats, according to the human-rights organization.

At the Assyrian school, some tell Principal Robin Alkhas that whereabouts of cousins and uncles, lost to kidnappings, remain unknown.

Also troubling to Alkhas is the time these students lost from reading and writing and socializing with children their own age while they awaited the chance to enter the United States. They have lost their formative years in exile, she said.

"I feel these kids had an unfair start," she said. "Iraq used to have the highest literacy rate in the world. Some of the children who came to us, who are now 11, couldn't even write their names. That's scary to me."

The Assyrian American Christian School, which now has about 40 students, opened in 2005 as the first private school of its kind in the nation.

But 10 young refugees, five from Iraq and five from Iran, have given the school an additional purpose this year: to help these students preserve the traditions of their ancestry while preparing them for college in less time than most other students have.

Alkhas wishes the school could afford to take in more students. But resources and donations from the local community are limited. She hopes to receive some assistance or qualify for a grant from the federal government or a philanthropy.

"There were three more students we wanted to take," she said. "But we had to turn them away. "It was heartbreaking for me."

While European countries have offered some form of stability, U.S. policy on resettlement continues to remain murky. The Bush administration was criticized for lacking any solid vision on the issue.

The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, said it will try to resettle a minimum of 17,000 Iraqi refugees this fiscal year. From Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 12, 2008, the U.S. resettled 12,118 Iraqi refugees; the number in 2007 had been 1,608.

When asked what challenges the United States faces in helping to resettle Iraq War refugees, a State Department spokeswoman said such questions are left to policymakers.

President Obama's plans for resettling refugees remain unknown, said Joel Charny, vice president for policy of Refugees International.

"During the campaign, President Obama actually uttered the words `Iraq refugees' and expressed concern for humanitarian conditions," Charny said.

"We have a president who is able to express concern for the Iraqi people who are suffering, but that verbal commitment needs to be translated into action."

Though Obama also has pledged to end the war in Iraq by 2010, its people need to prove there can be stability, Charny said. So far, that stability hasn't appeared.

"There are people who suffered a level of trauma to which returning is inconceivable," he said.

California remains one of the toughest states in which to resettle refugees, said Debbie Decker, community resource developer for the Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service in Atwater Village, the largest organization of its kind in the nation.

"We do resettle a tremendous amount of people," Decker said. "But California is restricted because of limited social services, the cost of living (and) job availability, and housing is so expensive."

Last year, the organization helped about 1,500 refugees resettle in Los Angeles, Decker said. The previous year, the group helped about 1,350, mostly people from Iran escaping religious persecution.

Before refugee status is granted, the United Nations must determine those who apply for it are in real danger if they remain in their native lands. To settle in California, applicants must have family ties in the state and undergo a complex process of paperwork, background checks and verification of travel documents.

But Assyrians have historical ties to California. Waves of them arrived in the Central Valley after fleeing a massacre by the Turks near the end of World War I. Others escaped Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979, and still more families came after the first Gulf War.

With the latest Iraq War, however, the American Assyrian community fears that ancestral homelands in Northern Iraq, where their numbers continue to decline, will be lost to them forever.

At the Assyrian school in Tarzana, the lessons help the students revive hopes and dreams, said the Rev. George Bet-Rasho, who started the school and is the parish priest for St. Mary's Assyrian Church of the East in Tarzana.

"We understand them, because many of us can relate to them," Bet-Rasho said.

Kathryn Yousif, 17, said coming to Los Angeles has helped her feel settled.

Her younger sisters, Sweden, 13, and Moreen, 11, also both at the school, seem happy as they immerse themselves in English grammar by day and songs by Hannah Montana and the cast of "High School Musical" by night.

The Yousifs traveled to the United States with nothing more than the clothes they wore, Kathryn said.

"I miss my friends," she said. "But there is no future in Iraq."

For Leon, the young piano player who is an ethnic blend of Armenian, Assyrian and Chaldean, the war landed him in the United States in a most unexpected way.

By Susan Abram

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Help Find Missing 7 Year-Old Assyrian Boy



MISSING CHILD

A seven-year-old, Assyrian boy named Aishu Auraay is missing. He was last seen on Tuesday 2 September 2008 at 5:30 P.M. on the grounds of Mar Oraha Church/School, at Jaramana 10 kilometers Southeast of Damascus.

Father’s Name: Auraay D. Nissan
Mother’s Name: Yuneea A. Zumaeeah
Siblings: Mati, Aumta, Katreen, Linda, and Auleen

Family History

The family lived in Tel Kepe (Telkaif), 15 miles from Mosul, for twelve years before fleeing to Syria on the 16 November 2007. They lived near Mar Oraha in three separate locations within the vicinity of the Church until March 2009 when they arrived in Australia without their son.

This family, like most refugees, has been subjected to extortion and bullying by gangs that view these helpless souls as easy targets. A poor investigation was conducted by local police with no results. Now the family has asked for our help. The hope is to reopen the investigation at a higher level including international aid as well as police agencies.

What you can do to help?

1. Place this photograph on as many personal and public websites and social network websites as possible.
2. Show the photograph on as many satellite television programs if you have connections.
3. Most importantly, other refugees may have been subjected to the same abuse and may have been reluctant to speak up at the time. You can contact family members and friends that live in Jaramana or have recently emigrated from there and ask them to help.

Request

Please do not post incoming information and the contact details below on public forums. All information will be treated with the utmost care and confidentiality however insignificant it may seem to you. It is also important to centralize the information for analysis and distribution to proper authorities, so again, please use the contact details below to submit information.

Thanking you on behalf of the refugee family.

Primary Contact in Australia:
Gaby Kiwarkis
Gaby6@aapt.net.au
Mobile +0410086479

Secondary Contact:
Ashur Isaac
ashur@theplanet.net.au.vcf

http://MissingAssyrian.110mb.com/

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Baouta’d Ninevaye or the Rogation of the Ninevites

Watch His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California as he explains Rogation of Ninevites 862 B.C - Bouta D' Ninvayeh:

Watch Mar Awa...

Baouta’d Ninevaye or the Rogation of the Ninevites ܒܥܘܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ which means 'Nineveh's Wish' commemorates the repentance of the people of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah, the Prophet.

God instruct Jonah to go to Nineveh and condemn Assyrians for their “wickedness”, and to preach faith in His unity and virtuous conduct. But the people jeered at him and paid no heed to his call. Jonah was so disgusted with the attitude of his people that he decided to leave his town and take to the sea.

When his ship was in deep waters, it was rocked by storm and Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. As he lay in the belly of the fish, Jonah wondered why he was being punished when God had chosen him to be His messenger; where had he gone wrong? He then realized that he should not have acted in anger, because God wished that he be patient and more persuasive.

He prayed for forgiveness and for another opportunity to prove himself. Thus did his Lord choose him and make him of the company of the righteous. [68:50]

After three days in the belly of the fish, God listened to his prayers and miraculously took him out of the belly of the fish and cast him, albeit in a sickly condition, upon a deserted shore. Having recovered in the shadow of a gourd-tree, he went to Ninveh, where he pursued his mission, this time with greater persuasion and forbearance and despite all the jeers of the people, continuing with his work to bring them to the right path.

God told Jonah: Had your Lord so wished, all people everywhere would have been believers. But that is not His way, hence do not force anyone to take to Our path unless they do so willingly. No one can believe except by the will of God; only those who are skeptics do not understand His message. [10:99-100]

The Ninevites repent and declared a public fast. God then relented and did not inflict on them the punishment he had threatened. This shows God's universal love and mercy which extend to all human beings.

For Assyrians the Rogation of Ninevite has a nationalistic and a spiritual significance: In this way Assyrians were always reminded of Nineveh throughout the history until the ruins of Nineveh were discovered in early half of the 19th Century. Assyrians were also reminded of their importance in the history of the Church and spiritual development of Judeo-Christian tradition, for the Ninevites symbolized the longing of all humans for a universal God. The God who is so gracious and compassionate, the God who watches over His people and protects them from their evil ways.

During the three days of Baouta (fasting) people abstain from all food and water in their plea for forgiveness. Traditionally, at the end of the fasting period those that have fasted would partake of three handfuls of parched barley, mixed with a like amount of salt, and then sleep. Assyrians have different recipe's for such salty mixture or "pookhon" as it's called.

Baouta d’Ninevaye or the Rogation of Ninevites is an important Assyrian tradition which must be noted for its historic and spiritual significance.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia Honored as Fairfield's Citizen of the Year for 2009

(Fairfied City Champion) FAIRFIELD City Farm was bursting with families celebrating the spirit of Australia Day on Monday.

Fairfield Citizen of the Year for 2009 is Assyrian Church of the East [Metropolitan] of Australia and New Zealand, His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, who established St. Hurmizd Primary School in Greenfield Park, the first Assyrian school outside the Assyrian homeland.


``This award gives me a sense of working for the whole community, not just the Assyrian church,'' Mr Zaia said.

``I aim always to make the younger generation feel first their responsibility of being Australian.

``In encouraging them to finish their higher education and be active members of their community, there needs to be a sense of contributing back to the whole country.''

A finalist for the 2008 NSW Young Australian of the Year award, Ms Coxon urged people to take on leadership roles, saying: ``Each of us experiences obstacles to becoming a leader, but we each have something inside us that will push past those to achieve our goals.''

Monday, January 19, 2009

Latest Assyrian Church of the East Events

Mar Yosip Parish Restaurant Night

Our next Restaurant Night is held on Sunday, January 25, 2009 at Mar Yosip Parish Hall in San Jose, California. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $10/per person and $5/per child under the age of 7. Tickets can be purchased at church or at the door on the day of the event.


Fundraising Banquet in Honor of The Consecration of His Grace Mar Awa in Turlock, CA

The Mar Zaia, Mar Addai and Mar Gewargis Parishes are hosting a fundraising banquet in honor of the consecration of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California, on Sunday, February 8, 2009 at Larsa Banquet Hall in Turlock, CA. The event will begin at 6:00 pm. Tickets may be acquired in advance. All proceeds and donations will go to benefit the purchase of the new Apesqopion in Modesto.


Fundraising Banquet in Honor of The Consecration of His Grace Mar Awa in San Jose, CA

The Mar Yosip and Mar Narsai Parishes are hosting a fundraising banquet in honor of the consecration of His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Diocese of California, on Sunday, February 15, 2009 at the Mar Yosip Parish Hall, San Jose. The event will begin at 6:00 pm and tickets may be acquired in advance. All proceeds and donations will go to benefit the purchase of the new Apesqopion of the Diocese of California in Modesto.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nomination of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV for an Honorary Degree

It is with great honor to announce that our Patriarch, and our great spiritual leader, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV has been nominated for an Honorary Degree at the University of Chicago.

The letter by Dr. Gil J. Stein, PhD., the Director of the Oriental Institute and Professor of Near Easter Archaeology, praises His Holiness for all his hard work and dedication in the last 32 years, for his crucial role "in holding this community together, in preserving its unique heritage, and in insuring the Assyrian culture, language, and identity are passed on to the next generation through schools and other cultural programs."

We congratulate His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV for his strongest dedication and for holding this community tightly together, while serving as our spiritual guidance.

The Biographical Sketch of The Holy Father His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the East

The Biographical Sketch of The Holy Father Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch of the East

The Father of Fathers of the Holy Apostolic Catholic (Assyrian) Church of the East,
presently is the 120th successor to the Holy Apostle Peter, the Chief of Apostles.

Introduction:
Because His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV The Catholicos Patriarch is known among the
Eastern and Western Church, it is unnecessary for us to re-introduce The Holy
Father to us all. The love and the understanding exuding from the person of His
Holiness has made him, an individual of honor; and, to be received with all proper
integrity and honor, from among the various world, secular and religious
personalities.

The Prophecy of the Patriarchate:
His Beatitude Mar Aprem Mooken the Patriarchal Representative and Metropolitan
of Malabar and all-India, as a young priest studying in a New York seminary, was
present at one of the festive celebrations which had been offered by the Parish of
Mar Mari in Yonkers, New York, in the year 1967, which was in honor of His
Grace Bishop Mar Dinkha as the Bishop of the Church of Iran. His Beatitude,
during the course of his speech, had expressed a wish, “that one day, His Grace
Mar Dinkha, would be the next Patriarch of the Church of the East.” The
consecration of The Catholicos Patriarch with nephew succeeding uncle had been
disbanded, therefore, by the decree of the late Catholicos Patriarch Mar +Eshai
Shimun XXIII, the succeeding patriarch and bishops within the Holy Synod will not
be elected from among certain families. The election of all the hierarchy will be
from among the faithful of The Holy Church. Mar Aprem of India declared in his
remarks “ . . let us place our hope that the next patriarch which we elect will be this young, wise and enlightened Bishop of Iran. The prophetic utterance of His
Beatitude was fulfilled and came to pass in the year 1976. This young Bishop of
Iran was elected to the Awesome Office of Catholicos Patriarch; and, consecrated
to occupy the widowed See of Selucia Ctestiphon.

In the year 1976, the widowed See of the Patriarchate of the Church of the East
summoned by the locum tenens Mar Timotheus of India to a Holy Synod in order to
elect a succeeding Patriarch. The Holy Synod was called to order by the venerable
and esteemed late Metropolitan Mar +Timotheus of India in London, England,
October 1976. At the time of the convening of the Holy Synod, and the request for
a nominee to be presented for consideration for an occupant of the widowed
Patriarchal See; the unanimous consent of the Metropolitans and Bishops present
fell upon the Venerable and Learned Bishop of Iran; Mar Dinkha.

With the exception of His Beatitude, of blessed memory, Mar +Yosip Khnanishou,
His Lordship Mar Dinkha of Iran was the only Bishop consecrated before the
untimely schism of 1964. The blessed elder Metropolitan Mar +Yosip of the
Church of Iraq was seriously ill and infirm; and unable to attend the Holy Synod of
1976. Under the hand of the Holy Spirit His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV was
consecrated and sat upon the Apostolic Throne of Selucia Ctestiphon.

From the very first day in which Mar Dinkha IV had been installed as The Chief
Shepherd of The Church of the East; he has untiringly and faithfully proceeded to
fulfill his ministry as the Universal Father of The Holy Church. This great
responsibility of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, did not prevent him from developing
a profound closeness to the faithful regardless of the lands in which they reside.
Let us mention here, that while His Holiness as The Bishop of Iran, did indeed,
make Apostolic Visits throughout The Church, meeting with the faithful in The
Church of India, the Church of Iraq, the Church of Lebanon, the Church of Europe,
the Church of Canada, the Church of Australia, and the Church of America, he did
enjoy the friendship of these precious believing faithful members of the Holy Flock
of our Lord.

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV Catholicos Patriarch is privileged with a gift of
knowing a great number of the faithful in The Church. His unique ability to recall
those whom he had met always amazes the faithful, for he can call them by their
names. Therefore, as the story of the Holy Gospel relates: “ . . . the Good
Shepherd knows those who belong to Him, and He calls them by their names, and
they recognize his voice and they follow Him.” His Holiness is unique for he is
the only Patriarch known who is able to recall details of any family member, from
which region they had migrated, who their ancestry or forebears may be, etc. In
his rôle as the Supreme Head of The Holy Church, he has initiated and completed
many Apostolic Visits, bringing comfort, healing, encouragement, hope, inspiration
and strength to the scattered flock of The Church throughout the world.

His Holiness is very much aware of the his historical roots, both as to the Church of
the East; and, of his national ethnic origin; the ancient Assyrian history, the
language and the culture; always ready to address and speak in detail as to the
historical events in The Church and the Assyrian Nation. He has gained his
profound knowledge by investing his time in reading a great number of books
which presented a comprehensive study in these particular fields of interest. As to
his use in the languages of the world, His Holiness very comfortably communicates
with non-Assyrians. He is capable of speak to you using either English, Parsee,
Kurdish, or Arabic with ease.

In The Holy Synod of The Church, His Holiness demonstrates an equal fairness of
democratic practice, concerns and thoughts among the prelates. As it affects the
decisions which the Holy Synod will render; he will request of each prelate to
present his thoughts freely, and without fear. Thus we can state here, that in the
future, no prelate can say, or state, that he did not understand a particular point nor position presented to the Holy Synod. His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, does not act
in haste! He is a thinker and is very thoughtful before any action is determined.
In the forthcoming generation it is of considerable importance for them (i.e.: the
younger generation) to know the rôle and the various achievements of this, our
Holy Father! His Holiness has been very active in the field of ecumenical dialogue
with other Sister Apostolic Churches and Christian bodies. It is through dialogue
that His Holiness has been enabled to rebuild and reestablish communication
between the Apostolic Churches, the Roman See in particular and other Christian
communities. It was through dialogue His Holiness was able to make known to all
Christian Communities that The Church of the East confesses the Apostolic and
Orthodox Faith. In November of 1994, the Common Christological Declaration
was signed between The Roman See (His Holiness John Paul II of Rome), and that
of The Church of the East (His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV), in which the obstacles of
misunderstanding and separation was removed following 1500 years of a sad
division. A Mixed Committee was established for further exploration in the matter
of dogma. The Mixed Committee has, after a ten year study, discussion etc.,
produced a document on “The Sacramental Life” of the two Churches. It is now
ready to be signed, by the hierarchs of the two churches.

His Holiness is concerned about the future generations which will succeed us, who
are the older generation. His concern is centered in the need to develop
educational programs for the children and the youth. He is a great lover of the
Church Choir, and he has developed certain hymns which are appropriate for use in
the Holy Mass throughout a given year. Wherever the faithful of The Church may
be located, he is eager to appoint a priest and clergy to serve them, in order to build a church and a place of common gathering, so that they will not be deprived of the Sacramental Life.

Unfortunately, in 1964, a schism developed in The Church of India. Since His
Holiness had ascended/succeeded to the Throne of Selucia Ctestiphon, he has been
successful in leading The Church to reunite with the Apostolic See, thus bringing
healing to the body of believers.

His Holiness thinks and thought much about the necessity of having an educated
clergy, as we entered into the Third Millennium. To achieve this intent and goal,
His Holiness established a seminary in the Church of Iraq. His Holiness has sent
our clergy following their educational program in our Iraqi seminary, to the
institutions of higher learning in Rome, and elsewhere, to complete their
philosophical and theological studies, and now, thanks be to God, we have a
number of clergy who are capable of leading the younger generation into an
awareness of the profound spiritual truths of The Church of the East; its Third
Millennium. (The result of his insights.)

The birth and upbringing of His Holiness:
The great-grandfather of His Holiness, the late and of beloved memory The Rev’d
Fr. Soro was known throughout the Holy Church of the East for his spirituality and
Christlike humility and piety. He lived in righteousness, adorning his behavior
with fasting and perpetual prayer, his life’s span was over 100 years on this earth.
He was born in the year of 1856, in Nochia (in the region of the mountains of
Hakkari), and rested in peace in 1961 in the Village of Durbandoke in Northern
Iraq. This blessed priest of our Lord and God was from the House of Mar Dinkha,
The Bishop of Urmia, Persia, who had received the crown of martyrdom, together
with forty (40) Assyrian Christian men in the year 1915, on the top of the hill called “The Hill of the Jews” behind the Village of Charbash, in the Provence of Urmia, Persia. This Bishop was the last bishop of the See of Mar Dinkha, till the
consecration and arrival of Mar Khanania Dinkha in the year 1962. The late and blessed +Andrious, the son of the Rev’d Fr +Benjamin, the issue of the
late Rev’d Fr. Soro, took to himself a wife, of blessed memory, the late +Pana,
the daughter of blessed memory Kako. The beloved Pana, was greatly respected
by all who were aware of her simple trusting and great faith. Andrious and Pana
lived together in the Village of Durbandoke, the Parish Mar Quriakos, in the region
of Harrier. Mar Dinkha was born to his parents, 15 September 1935, in the Village
of Durbandoke. He was subsequently baptized and confirmed in the Holy Faith by
his grandfather, The Rev’d Fr. Benjamin, in the village Church of Mar Quriakos.
His Holiness was reared in the Diocese of Arbil, where many great leaders of the
Church of the East were born and reared, such as Mar Odeshoo and Mar Qardaq.

His Holiness had been reared as a Nazarite from the moment of his conception; and,
thence offered as a lamb to serve The Holy Church, even before his birth. Thus his
beloved mother +Pana, when Khanania was being carried in the secret parts, lived
in piety, and free from the consumption of flesh meats, etc. She was always
engaged in fasting and prayer, till the day of his birth. Khanania lived a Nazarite
vow, according to the ritual of the Nazaritic practice; like the Old Testament
prophets, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. He did not drink strong drink, and
his food was of the earth, fruits, nuts and vegetarian. Following the birth of
Khanania, another son was born to this blessed family unit, they named him Ezaria
at his baptism. Again God further blessed this pious couple with a beautiful
daughter, whom they had named Virginia at her baptism. Pana passed into the
Eternal Presence of our Lord, in Tehran, 1968; and Andrious entered into life
eternal in San Jose, USA, in 1999. Presently the Honorable Ezaria is serving the
Holy Church as Deacon, in the Cathedral Parish of Mar Yosip Khananisho, San
Jose, California.

His Holiness obtained his knowledge of the worship of the Holy Church; which
includes the Liturgy, Language, Faith Tradition, etc., from his forebearers, the late
Rev’d Fr +Benjamin. In 1947, at the age of 12 he was entrusted to the blessed
hands of the late Metropolitan the blessed Mar +Yosip Khananisho. From that
time forward, Mar +Yosip became the spiritual guide and teacher to His Holiness.
When the late Rev’d Fr. Benjamin, held the hand of young Khanania, and in turn
offered him to His Beatitude, saying: “. . Your Beatitude, I am now offering to you
this young lamb, you rear him as you know and wish, to do, in order to work for
The Holy Church. Thus from this moment forward, he does not belong to us, he
belongs to The Holy Church.”

With two years of intensive training and teaching by His Beatitude Mar +Yosip,
Khanania was ready to be ordered into the Sacred Diaconate. 12 September 1949
he was set aside to the Sacred Office through the Apostolic Laying on of Hands, by
his mentor, Mar +Yosip. During this time, as he served as Deacon and assistant to
His Beatitude, he continued to unceasingly study the Aramaic Language, the
Theology of The Church and her Sacred Liturgy. At the conclusion of 8 years of
intensive studies, His Beatitude Mar +Yosip, commended Shammasha Khanania, to
be elevated to the Sacred Office of Priest of God. 15th July 1957, at the
Commemoration of Mar Koriakous, His Beatitude Mar +Yosip laid hands upon
Shammasha Khanania and set him aside into the Sacred Office Priest. During
World War II, The Holy Church lost a great number of clergy. The Holy Church
began to give evidence of considerable weakness owing to the lack, and simple fact,
that the Reverend Clergy had been reduced in great number. It was His Beatitude
Mar +Yosip who had realized the great distress and profound need for clergy in The
Holy Church. This is the reason that he had accepted the young Khanania, and
trained and ordained, and gave to him a greater mission; which was to go to Iran
and the widowed Church of that land.

A bishop was greatly needed for the Church of Iran! In order to fill this need His
Beatitude Mar +Yosip consecrated the Rev’d Pilipos as Mar Youkhana, Bishop for
Urmia, and all-Iran; but unfortunately, owing to the political difficulties between
Iraq and Iran, an entrance visa was not granted to this new bishop for the Church of
Iran. For this reason, Mar Youkhana remained in the City of Dianna, and served
there as Bishop for the regional Diocese of Arbil and Kirkuk. As the political
scene improved between Iran and Iraq, and in order for His Beatitude Mar +Yosip
to fill the vacancy to The Church of Iran, he sent The Rev’d Khanania to Iran.
Thus, step by step Mar +Yosip prepared him for the Holy Episcopacy. When no
priest was available in the Church of Iran, in 1939, Mr. Ruel Arsinis went down to
India, and was ordained Deacon and then to the Priesthood for the Church of Iran,
by the Apostolic Laying-on-of-Hands by His Beatitude, of late blessed memory
Mar +Awimalk Timotheus, the Metropolitan of India. This priest (Qashisha
Arsinis), served The Holy Church of Iran for a long period of time, faithfully. The
Rev’d Fr Khanania arrived in Abadan, Iran, December 25th 1957. He joyfully
served The Kurbana Kaddisha for the faithful in Abadan, January 7th 1958,
Christmas Day, according to the Old Calendar. Fr Khanania labored untiringly in
the field of service for the greater glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in what appeared
to be an abandoned (but, widowed) Church of Iran. In Tehran, he had erected the
beautiful Cathedral Church of St George the Martyr, and again, he labored toward
the building of a parochial School in Tehran. Many things were set in order in
Tehran by the young priest Fr Khanania. People were very happy and truly
grateful for this young industrious priest who was but 23 years of age. Fr.
Khanania was officially appointed as the representative of the Metopolitan, for the
whole of The Church of Iran.

Toward the completion of the Church of St George the Martyr, Tehran, His
Holiness of blessed memory, Mar +Eshai Shimun XXIII visited The Church of
Iran, and consecrated the new Church, 9th February 1962. With the helping hand
of our worshipful God, and the untiring labors of The Rev’d Fr Khanania, The
Church of the East, for the first time had erected an edifice to worship God in the
City of Tehran. By the majority of the faithful sons and daughters of The Church
of Iran, a petition was presented to His Holiness of blessed memory Mar +Eshai
Shimun XXIII to consecrate The Rev’d priest Fr Khanania as Bishop for The
Church of Iran. The petition was accepted, and on the 11th of February 1962, The
Rev’d Fr Khanania was elevated and consecrated Bishop for the Church of Iran,
taking the name Mar Dinkha. His Lordship Mar Dinkha, as Bishop, built The
Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in the City of Urmia; and, also another Parish
Church, bearing the Virgin Mother’s name: St Mary. As the faithful of The
Church witnessed the outcome of his intensive labors, they stood behind him in full
support in all steps which he took, for the progress and success of The Holy Church
of Iran.

His Beatitude Mar +Yosip in his congratulatory epistle to Mar Dinkha the newly
consecrated Bishop of Iran, wrote and said: “ . . . in one meeting with Mar +Eshai
Shimun, in Tehran, he ordained The Rev’d Khanania Bishop of Tehran and
all-Iran, we beseech our Lord and God to grant to him, physical and spiritual
health, wisdom, enlightenment of leadership, in order to lead the faithful flock
which had been entrusted to his spiritual paternity. His Beatitude is praying that
our worshipful God be with Bishop Mar Dinkha to watch over his flock, to ordain
priests and deacons which are needed for the ministry in the vineyard of Christ.”
The Metropolitan of late blessed memory Mar +Yosip, continues to write in the
form of a poem, stating: “. . . Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who had come
down from Heaven, in wonder, and put on the humility of humanity, by the Power
of the Holy Spirit, from the blessed daughter of David, keep Thy servant His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV,and make him quiet and humble and a famous leader to watch over the flock with diligence, and in all love and joy: Amen ”

In 1966, His Lordship Mar Dinkha of Iran, visited The Church of America, and he
was well received and loved by the sons and daughters of The Holy Church. Then,
in 1967, His Lordship broke the ground and placed the corner-stone for the building
of the Mar Mari Church, Yonkers, New York. In February 1967, His Holiness
Mar +Eshai Shimun XXIII Catholicos Patriarch of the East, commissioned Mar
Dinkha of Iran accompanied by The Rev’d Fr. Isaac Rehana upon an Apostolic
Visit to The Church of India. Possessed with full confidence and certainty, Mar
+Eshai Shimun XXIII, knew that Mar Dinkha of Iran was the most capable prelate
in The Church to be sent for this particular mission, during a critical moment in our
history in The Church; at the time Mar Toma Darmo had been suspended (effective
10th January

Source: ACOE Global Youth Organization

Monday, December 29, 2008

Assyrian Post's Christmas Message

Assyrian Post would like to wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year's. The simple and inspiring story of the birth of Jesus Christ fills our souls with gratitude and our hearts with joy, for the many blessings in our lives and promises that God's purpose is justice and His plan is peace. Christmas is also a time to give thanks to the Lord for His Love and Protection and a time to remember our duty to care for the vulnerable.

Our hope for all of us this Christmas is that the wonder of what happened at that unique birth in Bethlehem may recapture our hearts and imaginations, and that any lingering sense of hollowness may be replaced by an adoration that springs from the depths of thankfulness.

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV's Christmas 2008 Greeting

Watch His Holiness Christmas Greeting:
http://www.maryosipparish.com/Christmas2008

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Day of Blessings: Elevation of His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia to Metropolitan



A DAY OF BLESSINGS
By Emmanuel Brikha

The Assyrian community of Australia and New Zealand, was this Sunday blessed by the presence of the Patriarch of the Assyrian church of the East His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV. He arrived in Australia last week for the elevation of His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia from his rank of Bishop to Metropolitan of Australia and New Zealand. The Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria and all of Europe His Beatitude Mar Narsai Debaz along with metropolitan of India His Beatitude Mar Aprem Mooken and the newly ordained Bishop of California His Grace Mar Awa Rouel, all of who arrived in Australia for a two weeks of big events in the Assyrian church and community.

Assyrian faithful started to pack the church as early as 4am on the raining Sunday morning. By 6am more than 2000 people were ready to welcome the Patriarch, and by 7.30 there was huge crowds at the church as the clergy convoy entered the grounds of St Hurmizd Assyrian cathedral at Greenfield Park, Sydney.

More than 100 deacons, choir members and children formed an isle from the alter all the way to outside the church entrance doors. The Patriarch along with the metropolitan and Bishops entered the church doors with a welcome of prayers and roses which were thrown at his feet. Thousands of people were crying and cheering as the scene was to overwhelming for them.

As the clergy made there way up to the alter the ceremony began. His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia had read his oath and promise of loyalty to his church, Patriarch and ranks. He was then blessed with the laying of the hand and elevated to the ranks of Metropolitan. As soon as he was elevated the crowds clapped, screamed, and celebrated with cheers that their church leader was made Metropolitan.

More than 3700 people had attended this event many from interstate and from other countries. As food was being served outside the church hall people were greeted by the clergy before leaving to get ready for the evening dinner which was to follow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

His Grace Mar Awa Bishop of California Consecrated November 30, 2008






Brothers and Sisters in Christ, peace be upon you all.

It is with great honor and joy that we announce the consecration of a new bishop, His Grace Mar Awa, Bishop of California. His Grace Mar Awa was the former Arch-Deacon David Royel. The consecration took place today, Sunday November 30, 2008 at Mar Zaia Church in Modesto, California by the Catholicos Patriarch, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, with assistance of His Grace Mar Sargis Yousip, Bishop of Iraq, His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis, Bishop of the Western United States, and His Grace Mar Odisho Oraham, Bishop of Europe. This special, emotional and holy event left all who witnessed it and were fortunate to attend speechless.

His Grace Mar Awa was born on July 4, 1975 to his parents Koresh and Flourence Royel in Chicago, IL. His Grace is our first bishop ever ordained that was born in the United Stated of America. His parents should take great pride in raising such a wonderful and special son that will serve as our holy father.

His Grace Mar Awa was ordained sub-deacon in October 1991 and ordained deacon by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch on January 1992 in Mar Gewargis Cathedral, in Chicago, Illinois.

Then he was ordained cor-bishop on July 2006 by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, in Chicago, Illinois. He was recently ordained archdeacon by His Holiness on November 23, 2008 in Mar Yosip Khnanisho Church in San Jose, California.

Today, on November 30, 2008, he was consecrated bishop for the Diocese of California by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV in Mar Zaia Cathedral in Modesto, California. We were also fortunate to have His Grace Mar Odisho, His Grace Mar Sargis, His Grace Mar Aprim and many of our priests and deacons joining us on this special day.

More than 2500 faithful members from California and Illinois were fortunate to witness this special ceremony. It was also broadcasted LIVE so people all around the world could also witness it.

His Grace Mar Awa is also highly educated. He holds a B.A from Loyola University in Chicago (1997), Bachelor of Sacred Theology from University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein (1999), License of Sacred Theology from Pontifical Oriental University in Rome (2001), and Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Pontifical Oriental University in Rome (2007).

The name 'Awa' means father. We are so fortunate to have His Grace Mar Awa to advise us with his fatherly guidance. God bless His Grace Mar Awa and may our Lord guide him on this journey. Our prayers are with him and with our Church.

More pictures of this historical event can be found in:
http://www.assyrianchurchnews.com/News/view/NewsID/44

Video coming up soon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Sad News From Mosul

IRAQ: Christians had started returning to Iraq’s third largest city, but a militant attack on Thursday may continue to keep them away | Mindy Belz


(WORLD Magazine) Armed militants killed Iraqi Christians Lamiaa Sabih Saloha and her sister Walaa Thursday morning in Mosul. The shootings took place just as many believed that violence directed at Christians in Iraq’s third largest city was subsiding and up to 200 Christian families who fled in October had started to return.

According to an Italian press report, the armed men shot and killed one of the women while she waited to catch the bus to go to work in the northern Mosul neighborhood of al-Qahira. The attackers then stormed her house and opened fire on the family, killing her sister and injuring their mother. Assyrian sources in Mosul told WORLD the mother is seriously injured after the attackers stabbed her. They then set explosives near the house, which went off just as police arrived, injuring three policemen and destroying the family’s home.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

At least 14 Christians have been killed in Mosul since September, and many believe this latest attack will deter Christians who left the city in recent weeks from returning to their homes. Since the beginning of the war, kidnappings and murders have hit especially hard the church community in Mosul, the second-largest community of Christians in Iraq after Baghdad and located 250 miles north of the capital. The city under Saddam was dominated by Sunni Arabs and with Tikrit formed the heartland for the Baath Party. But Sunnis boycotted 2005 elections and Kurds now dominate both the governing council and the police force. That may change when provincial elections are held in January, but already many blame Sunni militants for trying to undermine security and Kurdish gains with the recent violence.


Source: WORLD Magazine
Published November 12, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

MarYosip Parish: The 18th Annual “All Saints Night”


Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
MarYosip Parish

Presents

The 18th Annual
“All Saints Night”


Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder
them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
-Matthew 19:14


Bring your family and friends-Everybody is welcomed

Friday, October 31st, 6:00-8:00pm
Prizes, Food, Fun Games, & Astro Jump @ 680 Minnesota Ave, San Jose, Ca 95125

In order to create a wholesome family atmosphere, we ask that you please, not wear masks, devilish costumes, any type of weapons or
scary face painting

Iraq's Christians Flee 'Religious Cleansing,' and Arm Themselves

War is Boring: Iraq's Christians Flee 'Religious Cleansing,' and Arm Themselves
By: David Axe
World Politics Review Exclusive

In early October, news and rumors spread through the city of Mosul in northern Iraq that insurgents were targeting the area's Christian population. The attacks were apparently aimed at driving the Christians out of town -- a sort of "religious cleansing."

The anti-Christian campaign reportedly began in September, with "death threats through letters, SMS and e-mails," according to Mustafa Gundogdu, a researcher from the U.K.-based Kurdish Human Rights Project. (Iraq's minority Kurdish population, concentrated in self-governing Kurdistan, includes many Christians, although not all Iraqi Christians are Kurds.)

Gundogdu told World Politics Review that the threats were signed by a group calling itself "Al Mujahideen," a generic Arabic term for "freedom fighters." "After such threats, twelve Christian people were killed and three houses belonging to the Christian community were burned."

As panic flared, it became hard to tell fact from fiction. Several car bombs exploded in or near Christian neighborhoods around Mosul, but it wasn't clear if the bombs actually targeted Christians or were aimed at nearby soldiers. One woman told a reporter that men wearing the blue uniforms of the Iraqi police were killing Christians, echoing a trope that began at least four years ago with reports of police "death squads" in southern Iraq.

Amid intensifying rhetoric, an Iraqi general warned against "media exaggeration that gave rise to fear and horror among these families." Some foreign-based security analysts advised calm as they tried to sort truth from misinformation. One, Joost Hiltermann, from the New York-based International Crisis Group, said his sources in Iraq could not get close enough to Mosul to verify alarming reports.

By late October, as many as 13,000 Christians had fled Mosul, according to several news reports. The flight has exacerbated what Pary Karadaghi, an official at the U.S.-based Kurdish Human Rights Watch, calls an "epic" humanitarian crisis for Iraq's Christians.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes in the five years since the U.S.-led invasion, some fleeing religious violence, others displaced by the ongoing insurgency. Thousands do not have access to food, water and shelter as the cold Iraqi winter approaches. Even those who do have basic necessities struggle to integrate into the predominantly Kurdish communities where they have sought refuge. Many Christians from the Mosul area do not speak the Kurdish language, so their children cannot attend school.

Christians have called Iraq home for more than 1,500 years. Today, the country's Christian population, probably numbering a little over a million, is divided between Chaldeans, who are formally associated with the Catholic Church, and Assyrians, who follow similar doctrine but have no formal ties to Rome. Assyrians claim to have one of the highest rates of martyrdom of any Christian sect: Some two million reportedly have died for their faith over the centuries. If the violence against Iraqi Christians indeed is religiously motivated, then today the martyrdom continues.

Hiltermann says U.S. forces are too focused on security in Baghdad to devote much effort to securing Mosul and other parts of Iraq where Christians are threatened. Defeating Mosul's extremists is a task that has fallen to the Iraqi army, a far less effective force that often endangers the very people it is supposed to protect. Early this year, the Iraqi army deployed tanks and other armored vehicles in operations around Mosul, and Christians got caught in the crossfire.

"There were also lots of raids going on in their communities," Karadaghi says of Mosul's Christians. "When the Iraqi government is looking for terrorist groups, they come to those neighborhoods. Their houses get searched. And once they get searched, terrorists see them as collaborators. So they are hit twice."

Now, instead of relying on Baghdad to protect them, some Christian neighborhoods are taking security into their own hands, forming unofficial militias that set up roadblocks to screen for weapons and strangers. Some of the Christian militias are getting support from the Kurdish Regional Government and its security forces, according to Karadaghi.

With refugee populations swelling and tensions mounting as Christians arm themselves, this year Christmas in Iraq will be "low key," Karadaghi says, instead of the traditional boisterous celebration.