The Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch
Holy Synod � Regular Session
St. Ephrem the Syriac Monastery, Ma�arret Saidnaya
In its previous meeting, the Syriac Holy Synod of Antioch decided that the upcoming meeting of 11-15 September 2007 to be held at St. Ephraim Monastery � Ma�arrat Saidnaya. Their eminences, the Metropolitans, responded to his holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1, Iwas�s invitation, and arrived at St. Ephraim Monastery - M�arrat Saydnaya.
His holiness opened the first session of the Holy Synod with prayer then His holiness welcomed the bishops, members of the Holy Synod � specially those attending for the first time who were ordained after the last meeting of the Synod.
His holiness started his spiritual sermon saying, �The Lord Jesus called upon His disciples and they followed Him. He gave them authority over evil spirits and Satan. How magnificent is St. Paul�s call �Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine�. This is the path of the chosen ones. Ancient philosophers once said, � Man, know yourself� and when a man knows himself he will know his limits and realize how to behave wisely in assuming responsibility.
The gift of leadership in priesthood is given to those called upon by God through the Holy Spirit who is the leader and instructor of the church. This applies also to shepherds as commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The holy Bible shows us how the Lord Jesus chose His disciples and set them for service. And the role of the Holy Spirit is clear as expressed in the Book of Acts, saying, �Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for the work to which I have called them.� Let this feeling of ever serving be within us. And based on this, let no one deny the gift of priesthood and its leadership, and the importance of its authority and rules, which are given by God.
Today, in this day and age, we are taking heed to ourselves and the authority given by the Lord Jesus to His disciples. This we inherited from our Fathers, Saints and Teachers, a responsibility to serve the faithful for which we dedicated our life to be worthy of good shepherds, knowing that our shepherd is the shepherd of all shepherds, our Lord Jesus Christ. We are in dire need to observe ourselves and think first about eternal life. We should live this commitment without which we won�t be worthy of this holy and revered rank. Living in repentance leads us to observe ourselves and the doctrine.
Christianity prides itself in that its Lord Jesus is the Bread of Life and the Drink of life. None of His followers ever starved or thirst.
In this difficult time we are called upon to pray more and more. Prayers will save us from temptations and tribulations.
We ask the Lord to cast away black days and severe hardships and protect the world specially beloved Iraq where Christians are being martyred including bishops and clergy.
We also ask the Lord to lead us not into temptation in order to conquer the enemies of God. He shall be with us and by whom we shall always be victorious...�.................
His holiness drew the attention to the interference of those who broke away from our church in India, in the affaires of our Archdioceses in Europe and America. He asked the Secretary General to read the decision of the Holy Synod held in Damascus 1975 that was headed by his holiness, the late Mor Ignatius Jacob III, in which Mapheriono of India Basselios Augin Ist and all his followers were excommunicated. Based upon this decision, his holiness declared the excommunication of Very Reverend Joseph Tarzi who used to work in the Archdiocese of Western USA (Los Angeles � California) as he deceived a group of parishioners and joined the excommunicated bishops and the enemies of our church in India. His holiness said : We have given him ample time to repent, but instead he went on with his rebellion and had suspicious meetings in Germany and other European countries where he deceived even more laity. Since he didn�t stop his deception, therefore his holiness issued this decree and stripped him from the holy priesthood. Today he is called only �Joseph Tarzi� with no priestly position whatsoever.
THE CHURCH IN GERMANY
According to agenda items, his holiness asked that their eminences discuss and comment on the situation of our church in Germany. Every member expressed his opinion individually and openly about the previous decision of the Holy Synod of 2006 regarding the reorganization of that Archdiocese. There was a unanimous consent upon the decision to divide the Archdiocese into three with some required adjustments and with consultations with clergy and board of directors who were at St. Ephraim Monastery as delegations.....
Then, in fatherly spirit and with the sense of responsibility for the well being of the faithful, and in a historic stand, his holiness decided that the Holy Synod should overturn its decision of October 2006 in which the Archdiocese of Germany was to be divided into three. It shall remain one united Archdiocese, Patriarchal Vicariate. He appointed his eminence Mor Julius Hanna Aydin a Patriarchal Vicar for Germany and head of St. Jacob of Srouj Monastery. His eminence will work towards unity of the church and its parishioners. Their eminences were very pleased and thanked his holiness for his wisdom giving way for reconciliation between churches, boards and everyone concerned.
His holiness discussed the subject of retirement according to the constitution of the church, specially item number 57 & 58 which state that a bishop will submit a retirement request at age Seventy. If he doesn�t then he must and should retire at the age Seventy Five. His holiness has the right to accept retirement or extend it.
His eminence Mor Severius Hawa, Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra expressed his reservation, saying that the situation in Iraq is grim and very difficult, and for the well being of his Archdiocese he shouldn�t retire unless his holiness insists.
The same reservation was expressed by his eminence Mor Gregorios Saliba Shamoun, Archbishop of Mosul (Iraq) and for the same reasons. His holiness thanked them both for their services in Iraq and asked them to continue their services.
His holiness asked his eminence Mor Timothaos Ephraim Abboudi to submit his retirement letter for his own good and dignity since he is past Seventy Five years of age. His eminence agreed to submit letter of retirement by the beginning of 2008 when he shall bid farewell to the Archdiocese who will secure a suitable lodge for him to live in.
THE CHURCH IN INDIA
His holiness brought the subject of our church in India and asked his eminence Mor Athanasius Gorgees the Patriarchal Vicar for the affaires of the church of India, to read his detailed report in that matter. His eminence read it in English while his eminence Mor Theophilos George Saliba and Mor Gregorios Saliba Shamoun read it in Arabic....
Their eminences had discussions and suggestions for achieving positive results and clear some obstacles facing our church in India
YEAR 2008 � THE YEAR OF ST. JACOB OF EDESSA
On the One Thousand Three Hundred years anniversary of St. Jacob of Edessa, the great teacher, the Holy Synod decided to have the year 2008 to be the year of St. Jacob of Edessa. The patriarchate and all other Archdioceses will celebrate this occasion. There will also be a field trip to visit the tomb of St. Jacob in Tal-Ada near the castle of Samaan � Aleppo, according to a program set by the church.
THE HOLY CROSS & THE CLERGY UNIFORM
According to the constitution of the church, the Holy Synod affirmed that Very Reverends and Priests should not put on their crosses except when on official occasions and feasts or when they are representing their Archbishop. Very Reverends should not wear their MASNAPHTO during holy Eucharist service or on any other occasion.
His eminence Mor Thaophylos George Saliba presented the ecumenical movement subjects as follows :
- Heads of Eastern churches with permanent committee meeting : This meeting includes their holiness the patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox churches, Coptic-Armenian-Syrian. They meet once a year with the permanent committee twice periodically.
- Middle East Council of Churches : Which will hold its ninth general assembly. Its members amount to Ninety Six, that is every family is represented by Twenty Four members. With regards to this council the number will be Sixty Four member that is every family is represented by Sixteen member. This committee will hold its meeting at the end of the upcoming November 2007 in Cyprus.
- Eastern Orthodox / Catholic Dialogue : His eminence explained the status of this dialogue which started in 2003 and is held once a year periodically. The upcoming meeting will be held at the last week of January 2008 hosted by his holiness our patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1, Iwas at St. Ephraim Monastery � Ma�arrat Saydnana.
- Eastern Catholic Patriarchal Meeting (participation of the Orthodox patriarchs) : His eminence explained the participation of Orthodox patriarchs once a year where they discuss administrative affaires involving Middle Eastern churches.
- World Council of Churches : His eminence Mor Ostathios Mathew Rohom explained the ecumenical work and the role of our church in this council. His eminence represents our church at the central committee of this council since 2006. He also mentioned that it is the first time that we have in - charge a Syrian Orthodox member who is Miss Rima Barsoum.
According to the constitution of our church, the Holy Synod decided that all churches and endowments must be registered in the name of the church or the Archdiocese worldwide.
BEATIFICATION OF THE LATE PATRIARCH MOR IGNATIUS EPHRAIM BARSOUM 1ST
His eminence Mor Salwanos Boutros Al-nehme presented his Archdiocese request for the beatification of the late patriarch Mor Ignatius Ephraim Barsoum 1ST . The Holy Synod decided that his eminence, working with whom he may wish, prepare a study about this beatification in order to be included on the upcoming Synod�s agenda.
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BELGIUM & FRANCE
His eminence Mor Severius Hazayel Sawmeh, Patriarchal Vicar of Belgium and France asked that Luxembourg be added to his Archdiocese as per his previous request to the Synod who decided to add Luxembourg to the Archdiocese of Belgium and France.
After celebrating the occasion of the Twenty Seventh anniversary of his holiness enthronement on the Holy See of Antioch, and the holy Eucharist and prayers specially on this sacred day of the church, the feast of the discovery of the cross, the Holy Synod celebrated with his holiness this holy and happy feast.
In the afternoon of the same day, the Holy Synod held its conclusion session. After discussions, review and reading of all minutes and decisions taken, his holiness said :
We thank God who made us worthy to meet in this holy monastery and discuss the church matters at this difficult and hard time. We pray together for the sake of the whole world specially for Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, and ask our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of peace, to have His peace and tranquility reign over the whole world.
His holiness thanked their eminences for their cooperation and great efforts in solving many problems. He hoped that this cooperation continue among the Archdioceses so that the ship, our church, would sail safely in the turbulent sea of the world.
His holiness continued: �We are sure and have faith that the Lord Jesus is within our church and shall never abandon it.� His holiness asked for the well being of the faithful so that they may obtain victory over the devil and God may not lead them into temptations.
His holiness concluded the Holy Synod meetings with the Lord�s Prayer granting his apostolic blessings to the church worldwide.
These are some decisions of the Holy Synod which was held between 11-15 September 2007 at St. Ephraim Monastery � Ma�arrat Saidnaya.