Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Former Bishop's Response to the Synod Decision

The Ex-Bishop Mr. Ashur Soro’s Response to the Synod Decision

November 11, 2005

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IVCatholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
Members of the Holy Synod

Receive peace in Christ:

This open letter is written to document my open thoughts about the decisions that you have made about points that concern me personally.

The Holy Synod in the Church is expected to be just in its decisions and discuss the topics to the spiritual benefit of all. It is very sad that today we witness that it is working to twist the truth, and allow the thoughts of the members of the church be occupied by certain points that are not correct and are merely revengeful and for the purpose of glorifying the personalities that benefit from such decisions.

It is clear to anyone who has the ability to understand that this unlawful decision against me is nothing more than to close the eyes of some people in our church and nation so that they may forget about the malicious existence that the church of our fathers has fallen in these years. While some of the clergy are busy increasing the division among certain levels of our nation, and the church shattered under such weak leadership which has no connection or thoughts about the spiritual welfare of its members but pretend that you hold in your hands the flag of salvation and glorification of the church and the nation.

To the people you say that the church does not get involved in politics; however, ask yourselves and the people if what you are preaching is correct. Because your overt and covert activities do not speak the truth. Anyone who listens to your speeches, promises, and notices your meetings with different people will realize that your actions are different from your speeches and you have forgotten about he spiritual benefits of your sons and daughters.

Today, with pride you call this church, holy (Free Church) and (we are free), why? Are you managing an authority or shepherding Christ’ flock? The church is free only when it complies with the Word of God and is loyal to its Synodical Canons and its fathers’ heritage. Not when its clergy scorn its laws and allow her to fall in despicable fanaticism. And they do not wish to come truthfully near the other Christian churches so that the eyes of its adherents are not open to a new light and to learn how a church should function. This is the reason why you are not willing to participate in a Christian Communion because you know that in such a case, first the clergy and the leaders must comply to our church laws, But you do not wish to lose the freedom that you enjoy and not be obliged to anyone who may ask, speak or advise you because you think that you are not in need of advice from anyone else.

I would like you to know that I do not agree with your decisions that are related to me because they are not lawful for the following reasons:

1. Both letters that I sent to the patriarch were personal letters and I had legal questions that I was expecting a response from His Holiness. However, His Holiness made copies of my letters and sent them to all the bishops of the church. And in Australia, Mar Meelis made the contents of my letters known to both the clergy and other individuals and he spoke about them on television. Is this the loyalty and trust that should be in the church?
What trust would a clergy from now on have if his letter to the patriarch or bishop is made public and his reputation tarnished unjustly? It is obvious, that this is a new way to drown the voice of truth that His Holiness, with Mar Meelis cunning, is managing the church. What synodical or ethical laws allow a patriarch to interfere in the affairs of a diocese without its bishop’s knowledge and against his will? What is the response of other bishops if you were to interfere unlawfully in their dioceses?

2. His Holiness did not maintain the church procedures during his visit to San Jose. Knowing about the uneasiness, he visited those who are against the bishop and he did not allow having a priest to accompany him as it is the church practice and as he practices in others dioceses. He also had meetings with the church priests without informing me and he spoke to them against me and my working style. Was not this an effort to plant division among the priests and their bishop? Where is the legality when the Patriarch visits and meets with those who are against the bishop and without the latter’s knowledge? Is it not the Patriarch intention to destroy Mar Bawai’s diocese and allow him to appear incompetent and lose his respect among the followers of the church. These are the unlawful activities that the Holy Synod should have addressed and studied. Not wasted its time with peripheral items and creating blame and accusations about a bishop who is trying to awaken the leaders of the church from the slumber that they have the church fallen in.

3. I mentioned in my letter to His Holiness, that our church is an eastern church and all the eastern patriarchs reside in the East and our people in the East are in need of their spiritual father to be with them especially in these distressful times. And, I asked His Holiness to go and visit with them. And he did not even agree with this suggestion. Is this the daring step that I took with the Patriarch? Don’t you believe down deep in your hearts that the Patriarch should be living with his oppressed and needy flock? But you know that the vigilant speaking is not for everyone because you are scared of your name and honor and this is becoming clear that day by day the truth is getting lost in the Church of the East. The points that I have maintained and for which I am receiving this opposition from the patriarch and other prelates are highlighted below:

a. Liturgical Reforms. For the purpose of making church services understandable and acceptable to the believers of the church and in order that they may participate in the services more easily, comfortably and with full understanding. We conduct the services in modern Assyrian language

b. Canonical Accountability. We must strive to end the unlawful meddling in the affairs of other dioceses. Obeying the law is that which bring order in every institution and also in the church, because law is above all. The Patriarch and hierarchy are not above the law. However, if the hierarchy ignores the law, then they are putting themselves under punishment.

c. Ecclesial Communion. Christ established one church and it is our obligation to heal all the schismatic wounds among the followers of Christ. The reasons for this holy quest are numerous, the will and prayer of Christ before his death, the Christian way of life during the apostolic times, the thinking and activities of our forefathers in our church throughout the different centuries, the present conditions that demands of each one of us to give Christian testimony to the people who have not yet accepted Christ.

d. National Unity. If the church leadership is so fired up for its nation as they portray in their speeches, then they should be the first to support the gathering of the different factions of our nation in one union to preserve and respect all its children in whatever identity they have used over the centuries. They should not favor one segment or name on the account of others and thus become the cause of hatred and disunity. They are all our identities and we have used them in different periods of our history.

These are the sacred issues for our church and nation. The church leadership does not approve of them because its does not believe in them. The church honor will be guarded when you assist in the creation of a religious and national unity. You should abandon your meddling rightfully or wrongfully in the politics and negotiations with others to destroy the good work that is being done by our brothers in our ancestral homeland with their blood for so many years.

Today, in your unlawful decision, again you have twisted the truth and came up with the excuse of daring against the patriarch. What is your response for breaking the church canons in the synod of 2001? When the church canon clearly punishes a sinful act of one of the hierarchy and is excommunicating those who do not abide by the canon.

It was the will of the ecumenical synod that for bishops, metropolitans, or catholicoses who are discovered in the act of adultery, fornication, or sodomy, or in an offense like this, there shall at once be deposition for them, and they shall not be trusted again to minister the priesthood, not even if they offer penance. Only they shall not be deprived of contact with the church. Whoever transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.

Thus, you did not work in favor of God’s will but rather in favor of your own personal benefit.
You know very well that if Mar Aprim were to be judged according to the church canons, there were many others who would have fallen under the same verdict. For this reason some of you supported him and forgot about the commands of our holy fathers, thus, even though this canon was made known to you, you willingly rebelled against the church canon and the command of your fathers and brought yourselves under the same judgment of this law.

Again, where was your zeal to guard the church canons when so many reports and news were spread about the unethical activities of Mar Meelis and his partnership with Karl Solomon and the damage of about $120 millions done to members of our church and nation in Australia. How much effort did His Holiness or other hierarchy members spent in investigating these reports and events? Only he who is guilty is afraid to speak the truth because he is aware he will turn and stumble over it.

Where was the zeal of the Patriarch when he sent me to Baghdad in 1993 and to have Mar Gewargis accompany me to negotiate with His Holiness Mar Addai, Patriarch of the Old Calendar in the hope of reconciling the two branches of the Church of the East. Mar Gewargis refused to take part in this and threatened to resign for the interference of the Patriarch in his affairs.

In all of these and other events, the Patriarch and other hierarchy members had forgotten about the church canons, but today I have been exposed as a headstrong because I dared to speak the truth in my letters to the Patriarch. And some of those who are judging me today unjustly forgot about their presumptuous behavior in the synod of 1973 in Lebanon where they dared to suspend His Holiness Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun. However, when he threatened them, they backed down and regretted the big mistake that they had done.

That is how, when lack of knowledge in the church canons, pride, and involvement in personal glory dominate the church leaders, such unjustly decisions taken in haste and lacking logic will always occur in our church from time to time.

Again, this is what occurred with our brothers of the Ancient Church (Old Calendar), first you declared that their ordination in not valid, and you dare to say that they are excommunicated and whoever associates with them is excommunicated. You issued a decree stating that their Holy Qurbana, Baptism, and Marriage Services are unacceptable and unlawful. However, when you were obliged to obtain their recognition of you, again you reversed your decision and threat and told them, “Let us forget what has happened, there is no difference between us and whatever you have is lawful.”

These days, a large number of our esteemed members of our church and nation have spoken and written to the Patriarch, urging not to take this decision against Mar Bawai because again you will be the cause of further division in the church. You gave them false promises that no harm will come to Mar Bawai. But you did not keep your promise, as it is evident that you were forced by foreign elements to take this decision. If not from where did this unexpected zeal suddenly appear? Who forced you to silence those who speak about unity in the church in order that you will be compensated for your success? If it is not this way, when will you come to the realization that even in this case you have been wrong? However, this time it is too late for you because the eyes of the people are open and they can see the truth.

According to the news leaked to the public testified that the decision to suspend me was not taken last week but it was made by Mar Meelis last July in Australia. And the Patriarch was just a play in the hands of Mar Meelis and his associates to fulfill plans that he has been waiting for so many years. Thus, many of those who oppose Mar Bawai were saying earlier that the case of Mar Bawai is finished and at the end of October he will be suspended. The decisions were accurately stated before they reached my hands. For this reason, this synod was a play orchestrated by Mar Meelis and his friends and the producer was the Patriarch himself. That is why their decisions are fraudulent and unlawful and not for the benefit of the church and its adherents and the outcome of these decisions is defiance and division. Observe to what level has the Church of the East descended under the weak and false leadership. Christ said, when your light is dark, how much your darkness will be?

For all these reasons and for the pressure exerted on some of the members of the church hierarchy who sympathize with me against your opinions and were not in agreement with your decision, and for the other remaining members of the hierarchy who have always been unfaithful in the application of the true canons when the occasion demanded their use, and for the reason of the unlawful interference of the Patriarch and other prelates in the affair of my diocese, and adding fuel to the fire to increase division , I say:

This decision is unlawful according to the Holy Canons (Sunhadus) and it is not truthful and I reject it. Because the sole purpose of this decision is to distance me from the front and from true church endeavors, so that the front is left open and unguarded for you so that you may be free to crush under your feet the church canons and the unity of our people spiritually and patriotically as you have done so far.

In conclusion, for the benefit of all hierarchy members whoever they may be, the priests, deacons, or individuals, I wish to inform you do not dare to come to come to Mar Yosip parish or others properties that are under my administration in the hope of possessing these churches and their properties. They shall be refused entry by the city police and the FBI agents any day and any service that may take place in the parish. These agents will be in the churches to guard the safety and protect the faithful from those who will attempt to create disturbances in the churches under my administration. And if there is one who thinks that he may repossess the properties of our churches, I have one piece of advice for him. For the safety of everyone and overall peace in the community, go to the courts and file your claim. There the case will be debated and judged in a civilized and lawful manner. Otherwise, we hold the Patriarch, and the hierarchy members and the opponents here in San Jose responsible for whatever happens.

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