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           May 30, 2013

 

 

An open letter to His Holiness Mar Dinha IV Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East

 

 

Barikhmar! I offer you my greeting and respect, as I hope you are in good health and that you and all of your clergy and faithful are protected by our Virgin Mother.

Your Holiness! The news, which reached me through media sources move me to write this letter and to share my thoughts with every faithful who searches for the truth in the events that have recently transpired in the Church. For, I see that some individuals are today spreading lies to obscure the truth from our people.

I write this letter as a person who has spent 44 years of his life in the Church, 11 as a deacon and 33 as a priest. I have been a first hand witness to all what happened for I was the pastor of Saint Joseph Cathedral of the Diocese of California in addition to being a confidante to His Excellency Mar Bawai Soro since 1985. I was familiar with every incident that caused division in the Church and with the outsiders who antagonized H.E. Bishop Mar Bawai, his priests and their faithful for objectives that were surely not Christian-like.

For this purpose I am writing this open letter as a testimony to mark history, not to offend anybody, but to tell the truth to our people, because many lies and allegations have been directed against Mar Bawai and his priests by some of the Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East - and allow me to say with the full knowledge of your holiness- while Mar Bawai and his priests were quietly busy spreading the light of the Gospel to the Assyrian People.

Barikhmar! While I congratulate His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, our Catholicos Patriarch for his unity initiative towards the other leaders of the Church of the East, I pray that Almighty God will enlighten the hearts of the spiritual fathers in every church so that they strive to reach a true unity in the Church of the East, that is as an integral part of the one body of the Catholic Church, to fulfill the divine will of our Lord in His Church “That they All Be One”. (John 17:21)

The recent visit of our Patriarch Mar Sako in Australia have illustrated how His Beatitude Mar Meelis Metropolitan of the Assyrian Church of the East is striving towards the unity of both Churches: Assyrian and Chaldean. Though a pleasant sight, yet it makes one wonder about the real motivation of the Assyrian Church leadership behind changing its mind 180 degrees and reverting back to unity? How come today all statements that were made publicly and privately, like “We are free and we shall never be under the Primacy of the Pope”, are being reconsidered? At the same time it is not clear if the unity sought by the Assyrian Church of the East with the Chaldean Church will result in entering full communion with the Catholic Church. [We are somewhat amused by such suggestion] because when both Church gathered for the 2nd Millennium celebration (Year 2000) in Seleucia-Ctesiphon near Baghdad, the position of the Assyrians towards the Chaldeans was that unless the Chaldean Church ruptures communion with Rome, unity (between the two Churches) will never materialize. It seemed that the Assyrian side was implying to the Chaldeans “if you want unity with us, you must separate from your other friend.” Obviously, the Chaldean Church did not agree to that and so this unity effort was cut short.

These were some of the statements, which caused division among the sons of the Church of the East of Assyrians and Chaldeans. The media’s role increased these disputes and raised controversy and animosity among the people.

Your Holiness! It has been eight (8) years since H.E. Mar Bawai and his priests were unjustly suspended from the Assyrian Church of the East, without violating any Church canons related to Christian faith or morality. Did you think Mar Bawai committed a heresy when stated publicly that we ought to unite with the Catholic Church? Was he the one who in 1984 asked to meet with the Pope? Or, was he the one who signed the “Common Christological Declaration” with the Late Pope John Paul II in 1994 at the Vatican? Or, did he pressure Your Holiness to announce to the world that the Assyrian Church was pursuing steps towards full-communion with the Catholic Church? Or, was he the one who send several Assyrian priests to continue their academic education in Rome, since 1998?

We are truly joyful that the leadership of the Assyrian Church of the East has assumed a new position and now is embracing church unity; and so, we hear today some priests and authors are publicly proclaiming the need for unity. These events are reminding me with the Arabic proverb “wafussera almaou ba'ad juhdin bil-mae”. Altogether this is rather strange, because church unity was what the Bishops of the Assyrian Church have opposed vehemently for more than ten (10) years. And, today, all of a sudden they want to achieve it!

With all my due respect to Your Holiness, we have doubt about these actions because the pieces of these actions do not fit well together just as your declared statements do not measure up to your actual deeds. Where were these statements when Mar Bawai asked for church unity? You hastily crucified him, along with the clergy and faithful with him. And, as if his suspension from the Assyrian Church was not enough, you went back after five (5) years and used against him the worst terms, which the Christian Church has removed from its vocabulary for many centuries, such as, ANATHEMA and EXCOMMUNICATION! All this transpired while Mar Bawai was for five years no longer with you for he already was in the Chaldean Church, with the agreement of the Pope and the former Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emanuel III Delly. Why all this injustice against this man? Wasn’t it because of the envy and jealousy of a few Bishops that this took place? Regrettably, this was a clear plot whose ultimate victims were the honest Assyrian People. For the sake of covering up the mistakes of others, this faithful servant of the Church of the East became the escape goat for the un-churchly schemes by some individuals, whom Your Holiness know name by name. Yet, see what results were borne out of injustice against the Church and her children.

Today, you are talking about unity with the Catholic Church. We all say God bless you and your efforts. We in the Chaldean Church are pleased about it because what you are doing now is literally that which His Excellency Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo and Mar Bawai Soro did a few years ago.

Yes, of course, working for unity is to fulfill the will of Christ, but please realize that by doing so you are at the same time recognizing as truthful what Mar Bawai has achieved. Because if Mar Bawai’s hard work was not fruitful, why do you need today unity with the Chaldean Church? This is why, I hope, this is not another plot whose ultimate purpose is to prevent Mar Bawai from being inserted among the Chaldean Bishops in the Chaldean Church. Experience teaches us that every time opportunity availed itself for a decision to be taken about Mar Bawai in the Catholic or the Chaldean Church, Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East hurried issuing decrees against him, as if Mar Bawai is the prisoner of your eternal allegations and a target of your never ending condemnation.

NOW WHAT DOES THE LEADERSHIP OF THE ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST NEED TO DO?

In order for this unity to become prosperous and a source of blessing, peace and reconciliation for the people, the first thing to be done is to correct the mistakes of the past. It is to admit that it has committed injustice against Bishop Mar Bawai, his clergy & faithful. You need to show that you genuinely want to implement the will of the Lord. It is then that the real unity of faith and brotherhood can take place.

I hope the leadership of the Assyrian Church of the East will genuinely cooperate with His Beatitude Mar Louis Sako Patriarch and the Bishops of the Chaldean Church to proceed without reluctance in the paths of full unity, in communion with the Catholic Church, with good will and pure intention, so that it may reverse the injustice committed against her faithful son Mar Bawai, who has become a living martyr.

May God bless all those who labor for the unity of Christ’s flock and the Assyrian and Chaldean sons and daughters.

Finally, I seek your blessings and prayers, with my best wishes.
 

 

 

Los Angeles, CA
30 May 2013

Sincerely in the Lord,
Chorbishop Samuel Dinkha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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