venerdì, settembre 23, 2016

 

Chaldean Bishops Commence the 2016 Synod

By Chaldean Patriarchate



His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led the opening ceremony of the annual Synod on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at the Patriarchate summer headquarters in Ankawa, Erbil. The only absentee was Bishop Sarhad Jammo (Emeritus Bishop of St. Peter the Apostle Diocese, in San Diego, United States. H. B. Patriarch Sako has expressed regret for Bishop Jammo’s absence in the process of choosing his successor and wished him a good health. 
The participants started their day with a Mass, celebrated by H. B. Patriarch Sako, who thanked them for taking the time to travel long distances in order to participate in this important assembly. Also, urged them to fully assume their responsibilities and keep the Synod in their prayers.
The first session started with a reflection on John (21 / 15-24) presented by Bishop Antoine Audo, followed by the speech (below) of H.B. Patriarch Sako:

Synod 2016 Opening Speech

Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako 
 

Excellencies,

At the beginning, I would like to welcome you and appreciate your participation in this annual meeting. I also invite each one of you; to acknowledge honesty to God, Church, and his own conscience; and to be trustworthy, responsible as well as authentic through dialogues, discussions, and in voting process for making decisions. 
I hope that the convening of this Synod, which is the 4th for me as a Patriarch, will contribute to enhance the mutual cooperation among us in order to build the Chaldean church (i.e. the home we share), and strengthening its’ foundation to stand firm against the numerous challenges; pursue opportunities to provide the required spiritual support to steadfast the Christian faith of our people and easing their burden of the current “harsh” reality; to renew the perseverance of supporting the church's role in establishing a culture of love, peace, reconciliation and cooperation; and emphasize on everyone's right to a full citizenship in our “oppressed” country.

As we thank God for all what has been achieved so far, we believe that success is a common goal for all of us and will not be realized without unity and undivided agreement. As we know, the Chaldean Church is not the Patriarch alone and we all bear the responsibility of the failure and accomplishments. Therefore, we must be a “cohesive” team of bishops working hard together, in a way that goes parallel to our changeable circumstances in order to serve our church, country and parishioners all over the world. We ask our Lord to grant us the grace and wisdom so as to be fully dedicated to such a holy mission. On the other hand, I would like to assure you a perfect openness to your constructive thoughts and the willingness to discuss it with extreme transparency in order to reach a common vision within a legal framework.

For the time being, we should pin down together some areas of shade and light spots in our reality:

1. Areas of Shade
•    Administrative and Financial Affairs: despite all the effort, cooperation and advice, the Patriarchate legacy inherited is still casting its’ shadow on the administrative, financial and pastoral affairs. Several factors contributed to this negative outcome, including; the leadership weakness in taking full responsibility of administrative, legal, systematic and pastoral concerns; the lack of highly qualified experts; the focus on self-interest, which indicates that the motivational and spiritual crisis has been maximized with the spread of digital culture; the third factor is the chaos caused by some priests and monks who departed their dioceses and monasteries. The continuation of such “phenomenon” is due to inadequacies in the upbringing / forming of these individuals spiritually as well as the way they were raised up in their families. However, in order to adjust the situation we began to provide guidance for the priests through organizing sustainable forming retreats, meetings, lectures, etc. It might be worthwhile to think about the possibility of opening the doors for the exchange of visits between the priests inside the country and their counterparts abroad, so as to allow sharing of experiences and the Iraqi priests of the center would not feel that they are carrying the burden of hardship and sufferings alone.

•    Dioceses: There are some sluggish and inactive dioceses suffering from the absence of institutional and organized pastoral work, compared to the activities of the “incoming” Christian groups!! Some parishes do not have any theological courses or Bible studies to educate the faithful and legally considered negligent for the lack of Diocese board, committees and financial officer. There are signals of what is commonly known as financial and administrative corruption. I would mention here what happened in the Patriarchate diocese and other parishes as an example. Such matters should be reconsidered and systematized transparently.

•    Rituals: Each Diocese had adopted its’ own liturgy without paying any attention to genuineness and updating. Additionally, the spontaneous translations and imposing a personal or local dialect on all parish churches have created sort of confusion. This is unacceptable at all.

•    The Dilemma of Displaced Christians: The displacement of Christians from their towns and homes was very painful and has preoccupied most of our time (as if what we had was not enough). Yet, it must be emphasized that the Chaldean Church, in general, has done a tremendous job in assisting all the displaced families, without discrimination. Even though, some parishes did very well in this aspect, while others did not pay any attention to it. Therefore, I very much appreciate everyone who lends a helping hand to the displaced people, and they are many. Moreover, the Church has extended its full potential to stand by these families spiritually and morally, by making a great effort to deliver the suffering voices of her faithful to the international bodies / organizations and church forums around the world.

•    Outflow of Immigration: In spite of the biggest challenge of the immigration “hemorrhage” and the fact that we are unfairly pressured, we have tried to remain firm and plan for the future with hope and confidence. This situation obliges us to coordinate our work together and to harmonize our speeches. Besides, this deployment of our faithful all over the world requires us to send priests to serve them, which is not doable currently, due to the shortage of priests and the time needed to prepare them culturally, socially and linguistically, for the new locations!

•    Unlimited Freedom in Using the Internet: We have been frequently mistreated through different channels of social media by people from inside the country and abroad. Such damage is controlled / guided by certain political and non-Christian agendas, which is not precisely a freedom of expression, but is rather a declared “agenda” aiming against the Church and in particular the Chaldean Church!


2.    Lights:
•    Financial and Administrative Affairs: We worked hard to adjust things, activate the law and regain control on the Patriarchate finance. We also follow-up on the priests’ issues, and unified the ritual prayers as much as possible. May God bless us during this Synod to improve it.

•    Pastoral Affairs: We visited most of the parishes and listened eagerly to the views of priests and faithful. We did our best to help the needy at home and abroad in spite of our limited and modest budget.

•    Social and Political Affairs: During the past four years we directed our effort enthusiastically to reinforce the presence of the Chaldean Church in the Iraqi, ecumenical and global forums, bodies, etc. This was achieved by; participating at different international conferences; meetings with officials at both the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG); exchanging visits with the religious authorities, who are powerful and influential; strengthening relations with foreign ambassadors and envoys of decision making countries as well as the officials at the United Nations.

•    Media Affairs: In this regard, we achieved the following: Activating the Patriarchate's website; and supporting the continuity of issuing two major Iraqi Christian magazines (namely, Star of the East and Mesopotamia) in addition to publishing several books, in spite of our limited physical and technical facilities. Our ambition is to have the “first Iraqi Christian” radio and television station in the near future.

•    Cultural Affairs: We established the Chaldean League to highlight the cultural and national identity of the Chaldean component around the world, away from the political themes. It was vital to have such an inclusive association, especially at this time to encompass all Chaldeans and help them to face the ongoing “risky” geopolitical change. With that said, we should think seriously and be prepared to answer the following question: In case ISIS is defeated, what would be our role in Nineveh plain? 

•    In conclusion: I repeat that the dramatic developments that have occurred in our country and the region, are forcing us to work diligently together as one team, to maintain the cultural, social, ecclesiastical and political existence through continuity and coordination.

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