Author Topic: Syrian/Syriac Catholic Church - relations with Orthodoxy  (Read 1770 times)

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Offline Sloga

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Syrian/Syriac Catholic Church - relations with Orthodoxy
« on: June 07, 2010, 03:41:39 PM »
Hello all, its been a while since I last posted here but I've been reading up atleast once a month!

My question is regarding the Syrian Catholic Church. My good friend who is Greek Orthodox is in a serious relationship with a great girl who in my opinion is of great christian spirit. She is a member of the Syrian Catholic Church (shes from Iraq). I have never in my life been so confused about someone's religion.

First and foremost, this is what I understand. The SCC split off from the Syrian Orthodox Church, which of course is Oriental Orthodox. The split was a result of Roman Catholic missionaries who inspired members of the SOC to recognize the Pope. Now, logically speaking, these are the assumptions (which I realise may be incorrect) I have made. Liturgy, communion, and overall theology is give or take identical to Oriental Orthodoxy, with the exception that they recognize the Pope. This is where it gets a bit strange.

The girl has discussed her religion with me, and she considers her self "catholic", this is a bit irrelevent because I understand that the word itself is very relative and even the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the term catholic or universal in its title. She claims however, her priests never discuss the Pope, and she was completely unaware of his existance until the search for the replacement for PJPII began. To me this seems like the SCC recognized the Pope for political purposes, and not for theological. It does not make sense for them to accept Papal Authority and never acknowledge him in any way. She attends church often so it really is strange.

Another strange issue is the bread of holy communion. This is rather an important issue for them as the Greek would not allow his children to take unleavened Communion. I have seen some pictures and it seems as if her church uses the wafers, which I believe can only be unleavened. She asked her priest however, and he said specifically "We use the same bread as the Orthodox". So which one is it? Or do they use either or?

Any clarification on the Syrian Catholic Church would be of great appreciation!

Христе Боже, Распети и Свети!

"In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope." Saint Justin Popovic

Offline Orest

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Re: Syrian/Syriac Catholic Church - relations with Orthodoxy
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2010, 04:09:48 PM »
Iraq has both Christians of the original  Orthodox Church and those who for various reasons chose to leave their ancestral church or were enticed to leave.  Here is a brief historical background.  As with other Orthodox in the Middle East, often the Catholics used schools as a bridge to entice Orthodox to leave their church.  I have met Copts in Canada whose parents and grandparents went to the only available schools run by Catholic missionaries and were forced to undergo a Catholic ceremony of "First Communion" as well as being indoctrinated in Catholic theology as the price for education which enabled them to move up the social scale.

Here is a brief background:
"The Syrian Catholic Church is an offshoot of the Assyrian Apostolic Church (changed in the 1950s to the Syrian Orthodox Church), popularly known as Jacobite. The conversion of parts of the Jacobite community to Catholicism began in the 17th century but took about two centuries to stabilize. The movement was centered in Ottoman Aleppo (now in Syria) operating under the influence of French diplomats and missionaries. Today the head of this Church, the Patriarch of Antioch (one of many), resides in Beirut. The language of this community is Syriac and Arabic for liturgy and for vernacular use. With a considerable portion of the community is diaspora outside the Middle East , the main communities in the Middle East are located in northern Iraq (around Mosul), in the Aleppo area, and in Lebanon.

The formation of the Church
During the Crusades there were many examples of warm relations between Catholic and Syriac ("Syrian") Orthodox bishops. Some of these bishops seemed favourable to union with Rome, but no concrete results were achieved. There was also a decree of union between the Syriac Orthodox and Rome at the Council of Florence November 30, 1444 but the effects of this decree were rapidly annulled by opponents of the union among the Syriac hierarchy.
Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries began to work among the Syriac Orthodox faithful at Aleppo in 1626. So many of them were received into communion with Rome that in 1662, when the Patriarchate had fallen vacant, the Catholic party was able to elect one of its own, Andrew Akhidjan, as Patriarch of the Syriac Church. This provoked a split in the community, and after Akhidjan’s death in 1677 two opposing patriarchs were elected, one being the uncle of the other, representing the two parties (one pro-Catholic, the other anti-Catholic). But when the Catholic Patriarch died in 1702, this very brief line of Catholic Patriarchs upon the Syriac Church's See of Antioch died out with him.
The Ottoman government supported the Syriac Orthodox's agitation against the Syriac Catholics, and throughout the 18th century the Syriac Catholics underwent suffering and much persecution. There were long periods when no Syriac Catholic bishops were functioning, and the community was forced to go entirely underground.
In 1782 the Syriac Orthodox Holy Synod elected Metropolitan Michael Jarweh of Aleppo as Patriarch. Shortly after he was enthroned, he declared himself Catholic and in unity with the Pope of Rome. After this declaration Jarweh took refuge in Lebanon and built the still-extant monastery of Our Lady at Sharfeh. Since Jaroueh there has been an unbroken succession of Syriac Catholic Patriarchs.
In 1829 the Turkish government granted legal recognition to the Syriac Catholic Church, and the residence of the Patriarch was established at Aleppo in 1831. Catholic missionary activity resumed. Because the Christian community at Aleppo had been severely persecuted, the Patriarchate was moved to Mardin (now in southeast Turkey) in 1850.
The steady Syriac Catholic expansion at the expense of the Syriac Orthodox was ended by the persecutions and massacres that took place during World War I (Assyrian genocide). More than half of the 75,000 Syriac Catholics were massacred by Turkish nationalists (especially so-called Young Turks). In the early 1920s the Catholic Patriarchal residence was therefore moved to Beirut, to which many Syriac Catholics had fled from Turkish and intra-Syria terror.
The Syriac Catholic Patriarch always takes the name "Ignatius" in addition to another name. Although Syriac Catholic priests were bound to celibacy by the Syriac Catholic local Synod of Sharfeh in 1888, there are now a number of married priests. A patriarchal seminary and printing house are located at Sharfeh Monastery in Lebanon."

Offline Sloga

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Re: Syrian/Syriac Catholic Church - relations with Orthodoxy
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2010, 11:45:18 PM »
Thank you Orest.

I am actually pretty familiar with the actual history of the church but I lack understanding in the theology department within their church. Particularly I'm wondering if anyone knows what the situation is with the bread.
Христе Боже, Распети и Свети!

"In the history of the human race there have been three principal falls: that of Adam, that of Judas, and that of the pope." Saint Justin Popovic

Offline surajiype

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Re: Syrian/Syriac Catholic Church - relations with Orthodoxy
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2010, 12:59:55 AM »
The Syrian Catholic church was built with a lot of help from the French and the Maronites. The Maronite areas of North Lebanon were a refuge for the Syrian Catholics for a long time. 

They have been latinized to some extent. Less than the Chaldean Catholics and much more than the Indian Syrian Catholics(The Syro Malankara CC). I am sure the Syrian Catholics remember the pope in the liturgy.  I think among the syrian catholics in India while leavened bread is usually used in the liturgy, at certain events where concelebrations with the Latin rite occurs, I have seen both Eastern catholic clergy and laity commune with the unleavened bread.

This is a late development.  I think with the Syrian catholics also this must be the case. Besides the Syrian catholics conformed to Roman practices to a much greater extent ex removing the Theopaschite clause of Peter the fuller from the trisagion(which would not be a problem for chalcedonians) , adopting Latin sytle Vestments etc.