Assyrian Church of the East

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Assyrian Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Ankawa near Erbil (Iraq), 2018, inaugurated in 2008, since the enthronement of the Catholicos Patriarch Gewargis III. 2015 headquarters of the Assyrian Catholicos

The Assyrian Church of the East (full name: Holy Apostolic and Catholic Assyrian Church of the East , Aramaic ܥܕܬܐ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܘܫܠܝܚܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܪ̈ܝܐ) is an autocephalous and completely independent Eastern Church of Syrian tradition , following the early Christian Catholic of Seleukia-Ctesiphon , which arose in the Sassanid Empire .

The Catholicosate split mid-16th century in two today roughly equal branches: the traditional, still independent "Church of the East" (beigenannt later "Assyrian") (1) and (2) with the Pope in Rome Uniate , intrinsically legitimate Chaldean Catholic Church (" Patriarchate of Babylon "). An Indian metropolis of the Thomas Christians belongs to the Assyrian Church ; Their Catholic-Eastern Church counterpart is the considerably larger Syro-Malabar Church .

The Assyrian Church of the East, which was not united with Rome, has split since the 1960s into (a) the globally active "Holy Apostolic and Catholic Assyrian Church of the East" (on which this article focuses) on the issue of the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. with the seat of the Patriarch in Ankawa (1940 to 2015 in Chicago ) and (b) the much smaller "Old Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East" (also called "Assyrian Old Calendar " ), which is focused on Iraq but is also present in the USA and Germany ) with patriarchal seat in Baghdad .

Assyrian Church of St. Mary (Mat Marjam) in Moscow


The full name is now the Holy Apostolic and Catholic Assyrian Church of the East . The part of the name "Catholic" is derived from the Nicäno-Constantinopolitanum (μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικὴν καὶ Ἀποστολικὴν Ἐκκλησίαν), where it literally means "general", and does not include any ties to the Roman Catholic Church . The wing of the church that is now united with the Roman Pope is called the Chaldean Catholic Church .

The original name is Church of the East . This expressed that she was responsible for the Christians east of the border of the Roman Empire , in the Persian Empire or in the Caliphate of Baghdad and beyond. According to the original core area of ​​its distribution, it is also called the “Persian Church”, “Mesopotamian-Persian Church” or “East Syrian Church”. Because of the rejection of the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) , one speaks of the Nestorian Church .

The additional names as "Chaldean" (chaldaica) from the 15th century and as " Assyrian " (syriaca) from the 19th century are modern and both of European origin. They are originally meant linguistically or historically and geographically; its real purpose was to avoid the term "Nestorian" for those parts of the Church of the East that had approached or joined the Roman Catholic or Anglican church fellowship. The adjective “Assyrian” became part of an official church name in the second half of the 20th century.

The epithet "Nestorian" and the name "Nestorian" are nowadays rejected as a self-designation even by non-Catholics. In theological and historical specialist literature, however, the term “Nestorian Church” is still widespread. Some even speak absurdly of "Catholic Nestorians". Designations with the adjective "orthodox" are also incorrect: The church does not use the word "orthodox" either in its liturgies or in its correspondence, it also avoids terms that are called "right faith" or "right doctrine" - as the literal translation of "Orthodox" - could be translated.

From the name “Church of the East” it is difficult to derive an adjective that does not give rise to misunderstandings, as is the case with “Eastern Church”. "East Syrian" (denominationally neutral), "Chaldean" (with Catholic connotations), "Assyrian" (predominantly non-Catholic), also "Assyro-Chaldean" (in summary or Catholic) are common.

The East Syrian Christians were sometimes referred to as "Protestants of the East" but traditionally belong to a Catholic-type church. Only small groups became Protestant since the 19th century.

The following are to be distinguished from the "Assyrian Church of the East" or the "Old Church of the East" :

  • the Eastern Catholic Churches of the same Eastern Syrian tradition, namely the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is united with the Pope in Rome, together with the Syro-Malabar Church in India, which is independent of this but also united with the Pope ,
  • the Western Syrian churches that emerged within the Roman Empire, z. B. the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch , the so-called Jacobites. They all recognize the Council of Ephesus and are therefore “oriental-orthodox” or, if they are united with the Pope in Rome, Roman-Catholic.

In summary form all together the churches Syrian tradition and the Syrian Christianity . More recently the members of these churches are also known as Assyrians / Arameans .



Today around 300,000 to 400,000 believers in Iran , Iraq , Syria , Turkey , the USA , Europe and Australia belong to the autocephalous Assyrian Church. Around half of them no longer live in the Middle East, but as emigrants in the diaspora ; mostly in the US, about 80,000 in the Chicago area alone. All figures are only estimated and have other than statistical purposes. The modern center and seat of the patriarch was Qudshanis in what is now East Turkey until the First World War . For political reasons, his residence has now been moved to Chicago , USA.

The Indian metropolis, based in Thrissur, has at least 25,000 members, mostly in the state of Kerala .

In Germany there are two parishes in Wiesbaden / Mainz , including one of the Altkalendarier with its own bishop ( Mar Timotheus Shalita Odisho), in Austria a mission in Vienna .


The decisions of the ecumenical councils of Nicaea 325 and Constantinople 381 are fully recognized.

The basic creed is the Nicano-Constantinopolitanum . The mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation are central points of the teaching. In Christology it maintains that Jesus was God and man, and that his two natures are unmixed and unchanged. But while the Monophysites see the two persons as in no way separable - neither real nor in the intuition - the Duophysites see them in a certain way separate. The human is somehow the bearer of the divine in the one God-man; Mary is "only" the mother of humanity in him, therefore, the term Mother of God or Θεοτόκος Theotokos ( Theotokos ) for the Virgin Mary is rejected, the term "mother of Christ" is preferred. In the ecumenical document of 1994 (see below) it says: "In Jesus Christ the difference between the divine and human natures is preserved in all qualities, capacities and actions." He is a person with two complete natures, but inextricably linked in him not mixed.

There is only compulsory celibacy for bishops and monks . In contrast to the other Eastern Churches, priests are allowed to marry even after they have been ordained a priest .

Worship and practice

The Church of the East has developed its own order of worship: the East Syrian Rite , also known as the Chaldean Rite.

The church is the language of Aramaic belonging Syrian . The use of modern languages ​​in worship is controversial. The customs are similar to those in the other ancient oriental churches. However, unlike in all other Eastern Churches, the worship of icons is no longer practiced at present. Accordingly, the separation of is the chancel from the rest of the nave by an iconostasis unknown in this church, instead, there is only a low, fence-like separation. With the Uniate Catholics of the East Syrian rite, however, religious images based on Western models and even statues are common today.

Sacraments are the Eucharist (Qurbana), baptism , the ministerial priesthood , the forgiveness of sins, holy anointing , the leaven that is added to the bread of the Lord's Supper, and the sign of the holy cross .

The Eucharist is known as the Qurbana (sacrifice, cf. Hebrew Korban ) and is celebrated every Sunday. A part of the Eucharistic bread is always mixed back into the new bread dough; According to the faith of the Church, this custom goes back to the very first Holy Communion, which Jesus Christ himself kept. The main form of the Eucharist is named after the founding missionaries Addai and Mari. In addition, two Syrian forms are used, which are named after the Greek church fathers Nestorios and Theodor von Mopsuestia, who were venerated in the Church of the East . The congregation stands during the service. Incense is part of the liturgy.

During the seven-week fast before Easter, meat, eggs and dairy products are avoided.

High church festivals are the birth of Christ , Epiphany , Palm Sunday , Resurrection , Ascension , Pentecost , the feast of the cross and sanctification of the church .

The Assyrian Church was the only Eastern Church to incorporate the concept of universal reconciliation into the liturgy of Theodor von Mopsuestia .



Seat of the Assyrian Catholicos in Chicago until 2015

The Assyrian Church of the East is led by bishops in apostolic succession . The episcopate exists in three special degrees of ordination: Catholicos-Patriarch, Metropolitan and (simple) Bishop. Each of these offices is conferred through its own ordination.

The head of the Assyrian Church of the East is the Catholicos - Patriarch . Since time immemorial he has claimed (like the Pope in Rome) the “Petrine key power” according to Mt 16,19  EU ; Mt 18,18  EU and is therefore also called “ Peter of our time” today.

Current holders of the patriarchal office are:

A bishop must be ordained by at least two (or more) bishops who, in turn, are in apostolic succession and full communion with the Church. He remains an ordinary bishop as long as he himself is in full communion with the Church of the East.

The episcopate of both autocephalous jurisdictions now includes around twelve and seven bishops worldwide. Both episcopates are in competition with each other, especially in Iraq and the USA. In addition, individual bishops of unclear legal status hold office in the USA and Germany (Mainz). Internal church tensions can be observed periodically, again in 2005/06.

Both patriarchs and bishops live celibate , for a long time they came from monasticism, which today no longer exists in an organized form.


Since around 1400, both the patriarchal and the bishopric was occupied by succession, mostly uncle → firstborn nephew, in certain families. Not infrequently there were disputes about this, and even the church split several times, most recently in the 1960s. Today's bishops are elected almost without exception.

Until the third quarter of the 20th century, all bishops of the Church of the East had to eat meatless from their youth. Therefore, the mothers of possible bishops renounced the meat during pregnancy, as in the case of Mar Dinkha IV. A girl who emerged from such a pregnancy had - especially if the sister or aunt of the incumbent patriarch - a prominent position in the community . This explains the special role of Lady Surma- Hanim (1883–1975), sister of Shimun XXI. and Shimun XXII. , especially in the first decades of Patriarch Shimun XXIII. appeared publicly as the spokeswoman for the Assyrian nation.


The Assyrian Church of the East now has around 120 parishes and 20 missions (congregations without local priests) in 16 countries. Most parishes have their own churches. More than 125 priests and hundreds of deacons work at them. 120 priests are or were married, a few are celibate.


As the only one of the early Christian churches, the “Church of the East” was never a state church , but was always subject to non-Christian rule.

In the pre-Islamic Sassanid Empire , the Church of the Catholicos of Seleukia-Ctesiphon was temporarily the only permitted form of Christianity and therefore dominated beyond the Roman eastern border. Especially in Mesopotamia (today Eastern Turkey and Iraq), large parts of the population belonged to it at that time, but also minorities in the highlands of Iran . Up to the 13th century she also missioned to Central Asia, to northern China and to southern India to the Thomas Christians . Your Catholicos had his seat in Seleukia-Ctesiphon, secondarily in Baghdad . The Mongol campaigns , especially the war campaigns from Timur , meant the downfall for most of the communities in the east, only Christianity in southern India remains and is partly associated with the Church of the East. Some of the followers from Mesopotamia, like the Catholicos later, also fled to the more northern mountain regions during this period. Some of these northern followers still speak Aramaic languages in everyday life , while those in the southern plains, especially in central Iraq, switched to the Arabic language . Liturgical language is everywhere the eastern form of the classical Aramaic Syriac language and services are held in the Eastern Syriac rite .

In the Sassanid Empire

The Assyrian Church of the East traces itself back to the apostle Thaddäus (Aramaic Mar Addai ), who is said to have preached in Mesopotamia between the years 37 and 65 . It is therefore one of the apostolic churches and the oldest churches in the world (after Jerusalem and Antioch). At present even a foundation of the church of Seleukia-Ctesiphon / Babylon is claimed by the apostle Peter , inferred from 1 Pet 5,13  EU : "The congregation in Babylon greets you ..."

The first Syrian-speaking bishopric was Edessa , at that time in the Roman Empire . From the 3rd century the central bishopric for Persia was Seleukia-Ctesiphon in what is now Iraq. According to the pseudo-Nicene Council acts, the latter cathedra was put on an equal footing with the western patriarchal seats in 325; historically, the establishment of the catholic council can only be set at 280 with the election of Mar Papa bar Gaggia.

In the rivalry of doctrine between the Alexandrian School and the Antiochian School , the East Syrian Church adhered to Antioch.

The autocephalous development is generally associated with the synod at Beth-Lapat 484 in theological literature . Nestorius was accused of heresy by Cyril of Alexandria around 430 and tried to excommunicate. At the Council of Ephesus in 431 and 433 Nestorius' teaching was officially rejected and he withdrew, later he went into exile in Oasis. In the Nestorian dispute of the early 5th century, the Assyrian Church sided with Nestorius because, in their view, Nestorius was not guilty of the heresy accused of him and because he taught an Orthodox Christianity. Consequently, she refused to excommunicate him. However, in Mesopotamia, Nestorius' teaching gained some followers, so that these churches distanced themselves from the more western churches and their monophysitism theory and theotokos concept.

At the Synod of Beth-Lapat mentioned above , the teaching of the East Syrian Church, which incorporated elements of the teaching of Nestorius, became binding for the Patriarchate of Seleukia-Ctesiphon , the Christian Church in the Sassanid Empire . It is doubted that there was previously a canonically autocephalous Church of the East there. Contrary to popular belief, however, this church was not founded by Nestorius - Nestorius came from Antioch and was Patriarch of Constantinople. In the Church of the East, Theodor of Mopsuestia in particular plays an important role theologically .

Proven parishes, archaeological sites, (partially) baptized tribal associations and regions, episcopal, metropolitan (archbishop) and patriarchal seats and territorial archbishoprics of the Church of the East in the time of the greatest missionary expansion 6-13 / 14. Century.

In the Sassanid Empire , the Church of the East was tolerated as a church since the 5th century (sometimes even funded; for example, the most important tax officer, Chosraus II , Yazdin , was himself a member of this church), as it was hostile to the Eastern Roman Church in Constantinople and to the Sassanids so did not have to fear a Roman "infiltration". Seert's chronicle provides important information on the life of Christians in Persia .

Under Islam

Many churches had been founded in Arabia, but they disappeared when the Islamic expansion began around 636 and the Muslim Arabs conquered both the Roman Orient and the Sassanid Empire. The Christians there were exposed to repression, which increased over time. Initially, however, they were allowed to practice their faith - at least as long as they paid a special poll tax ( jizya ) (tributes are also documented), did not practice their faith in public and did not carry weapons. Most Arabs eventually converted to Islam, much like how Muslims formed a majority in Persia in the 10th century. In Central Asia , however, the missionary work of the "Nestorians" continued and in some cases very successfully.

In Mesopotamia, Christians were in the majority for a long time, despite Arab rule. The earliest Christian reports on the relationship between Christians and Muslims come from the Catholicos Ischo-Jab III. who died in 659. Christian education benefited the Arabs, and the Christians in Nisibis translated works of Greek philosophy and science into Arabic. However, the number of Christians eventually declined under Islamic rule. After a renewed flowering period in the 12th / 13th Century by the Mongols , who initially privileged the Christians, the downfall quickly followed after the Mongols had turned to Islam. The Christian majority dwindled. The church eroded until it practically disappeared in the 14th century.

There were East Syrian communities all along the Silk Road . It was from here that the Uyghurs in Central Asia were Christianized . From 635 there were also Christians in the Chinese Empire . They were tolerated, but remained a religion of foreigners. In the 17th century, the stele of Si-an-fu , which dates from 781, was excavated . The inscriptions show that Christian doctrine at that time was partly so adapted to the environment that the core Christian message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus only appeared in passing. In 2009, under the Longmen Caves near the east Chinese city of Luoyang, what is possibly the oldest Christian site in the country was discovered, a rock niche with a cross engraved above it, which probably served as a burial site between the 6th and 9th centuries AD and its design is very similar to the neighboring Buddhist grave caves. In 845 an imperial edict was issued to restrict (not only Christian) monasticism . As a result of the restrictions, the church disappeared from China. In the Mongol period of the 13th century - the Yuan dynasty  - Christians came to China again, but they disappeared again in the middle of the 14th century when the Ming dynasty changed . According to some researchers, the Christians penetrated as far as Japan and Korea.

In the Mongolian capital Karakorum there was a Chaldean church around 1250. It can therefore be assumed that East Syrian Christianity was a widespread belief in the Mongol Empire until around 1350. However, after the Mongols turned to Islam (and partly to Buddhism), the church disappeared by the 14th century.

After India , Christianity came very early, probably by the Apostle Thomas . When the Europeans came to India in the 16th century, they found the Thomas Christians in southern India. The remaining Christians were spread out in small minorities across India. Unfortunately there is no tradition. However, the communities disappeared during the 13th and 14th centuries during the Islamic Mamluk Sultanate . After that only the Thomas Christians were found in South India.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, European travelers found long -established Christian churches on the south coast of India and in Ceylon , whose church language was Syriac . In the 13th century, the Nestorian patriarch had a hierarchy of 25 metropolitans and around 250 bishops (for comparison: 400 bishops took part in the 4th Lateran Council , one of the highlights of the medieval papal church, at about the same time ). In the late Middle Ages and early modern times, however, the church shrank sharply under the constant pressure of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Modern times: divisions and losses

The Catholicos Patriarch of Seleukeia-Ctesiphon resided in Baghdad from 773 to 1295 and later in the monastery of Rabban Hormizd near Alqosh . After the Mongol invasions , in modern times the area of ​​distribution of the Church of the East was essentially limited to the area between Mardin and Urmia and between Van and Kirkuk . The main areas of settlement were the high mountains of Hakkâri , the Urmia area and the Mosul plain . The jurisdiction over the Indian Thomas Christians , which had existed since late antiquity , was lost from the 16th to the 19th century because the Portuguese enforced their connection to the Roman Catholic Church or provoked their emigration to the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch .

Rabban Hormizd monastery near Alqosh , seat and burial place of the patriarchs of the "Elias line" from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th century.
Patriarchate in Qudshanis, center of the "Mountain Nestorians".

In the 15th century, Catholics and bishops of the Church of the East were inherited from certain families and z. Partly occupied by inheritance, mostly uncle - nephew, until the 20th century. This repeatedly led to opposition and church division. In 1552 there was a schism : In opposition to the extremely unpopular patriarch Shimun VII , representatives from Amid (Diyarbakır), Siirt and Salmas Mar Shimun Sulaqa was elected as the opposing patriarch in 1552 . This first elected Catholicos Patriarch of the opposition faction was in 1553 in Rome by Pope Julius III. ordained and founded the younger patriarchal line and a first Chaldean Catholic Church . The seat of the Catholicos Patriarch of the older line had meanwhile moved from Seleukia-Ctesiphon via his successor in Baghdad to Alqosh near Mosul. The seat of the opposition Catholicos Patriarch was initially Amid, and finally, after several stops, Qudshanis . The younger line dissolved the communion with Rome around 1662, so that from then on there were two non-Catholic patriarchal lines:

  • the southern one of Mar Elias in the monastery of Rabban Hormizd near Alqosh ("Patriarchate of the Plain", "Elias Line"), legal successor of the early Christian Catholic of Seleukia-Ctesiphon, and
  • the northern, formerly Catholic of the Mar Shimun in Qudshanis in the mountains of Hakkâri ("Patriarchate of the Mountains", "Shimon Line").

In the 1670s, the Bishop of Diyarbakır (Amida) united with the Church of Rome and also received the title and rank of Patriarch ( Patriarchate of Diyarbakır ; "Joseph Line"). Another partial union with Rome, which still exists today, took place in the 19th century. The older "Elias line" of the Katholikoi patriarchs died out in 1804 or it became Catholic with Johannes Hormizd , the competitor of the last "Nestorian" patriarch of the same family, Elijah XIII Išō'yahb (1778-1804). Temporarily, until 1830, there were two competing Catholic patriarchates:

  • that of the Mar Joseph of Diyarbakır and
  • the "Patriarchate of the Plain" of Mosul, which became Catholic (in the succession of the Catholic of Seleukia-Ctesiphon).

Both were reunited in 1830 in the " Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans".

The non-Catholics of the area around Mosul then accepted the hierarchy of the Qudshanis Patriarchy, which has now also become hereditary . This Assyrian church was courted in the 19th century by almost all denominations in the West (the Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox , Anglicans, American Protestants and German Lutherans) and lost some of its members to them, even entire dioceses.

A majority of the members of the Assyrian Church of the East lived in the province of Hakkâri around 1900 . The Assyrian Church of the East suffered the worst losses in territory, property and life in the course of the genocide of the Syrian Christians during the First World War , the mass exodus from their homeland in Hakkâri and the massacre in Semile near Dohuk ( Iraq ) in the early 1930s among the Katholikoi Shimun XXI. , Shimun XXII. and Shimun XXIII. As a result, new communities formed from the refugee groups in Iraq, including in al-Habbaniyya , from where most of them moved to the new Baghdad district of Dora in the 1950s , and in Syria on the Chabur River ( Chabur-Assyrians ). These communities in turn lost most of their members due to the atrocities and the subsequent mass exodus, especially to Europe and North America during the civil wars in Iraq and Syria at the beginning of the 21st century, so that today only a small part of the Assyrians live in their original home region.

1964 came to another schism: The now in Chicago resident Shimun XXIII. decreed a number of reforms, including a liturgical reform, the shortening of Lent and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar . This was rejected by some of the Assyrians who remained in Iraq: Mar Thomas Darmo , Metropolitan of the Church of the East in India with seat in Thrissur , opposed the reforms in 1964 and was replaced by Shimun XXIII. removed from office, which he ignored. In 1968 Thomas Darmo ordained three new bishops in Baghdad, who then formed a synod and in the same year elected Thomas Darmo as patriarch. Now that the new church saw itself as a legitimate, old church, it took on the name of the Old Church of the East . Thomas Darmo died in 1969. Mar Addai II , the Bishop of Baghdad, initially took over the office as managing director, was elected his successor in February 1970 and consecrated on February 20, 1972.

Meanwhile, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Shimun XXIII., Planned to abolish the inheritance of the patriarchal office and celibacy within it, and married in 1973. He was assassinated on November 6, 1975, and Mar Dinkha IV was elected to succeed him who initially resided in Tehran , but from 1980 after the First Gulf War also resided in Chicago. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Christian city of Ankawa in Iraq on the northern edge of the capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region , Erbil , gained new importance for the Assyrians. The US invasion and the subsequent Iraq war from 2003 onwards brought numerous Christian refugees from other parts of Iraq to Ankawa. In 2004, construction began on the Assyrian Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Ankawa, which was consecrated by Dinkha IV in October 2008. On March 26, 2015, Dinkha IV died in the United States at the age of 79, and from September 16 to 18, 2015, the Council of Prelates of the Assyrian Church of the East met in a Holy Synod in the new St. John's Cathedral in Ankawa. On September 18, 2015 Warda Daniel Sliwa was elected 121st Catholicos Patriarch of Seleukia-Ctesiphon by the Holy Synod to become Mar Gewargis III. Khanania Mar Dinkha's successor, and on September 27, 2015 in St. John's Cathedral, now the seat of the Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East, as Catholicos Patriarch with the spiritual name Mar Gewargis III. enthroned.

Cultural and historical significance

From a cultural point of view, the Eastern Syrian Church initially played an important role in the transmission of knowledge from antiquity: it was Christian Eastern Syrians who translated the Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle , at the court of the Arab caliphs - who then, via this detour, also translated into Europe a few hundred years later became known again.


The Assyrian Church of the East is a member of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches . However, it is not in full communion with any other church of the Catholic type (Oriental Orthodox, Byzantine Orthodox, Catholics). But today, for pastoral reasons, they and Catholics allow each other to participate in the sacraments (with the exception of ordination).

There was a historic meeting in the Vatican on November 11, 1994 between Mar Dinkha IV and the Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II , at which a declaration of consensus on Christology , which had been prepared over a period of ten years , was signed. Both sides declared "full church fellowship" to be the goal of their further "theological dialogue".

After that, relations with the Chaldean Catholic Church united with Rome improved , so that, under certain conditions, mutual participation in the Eucharist has been possible since 2001. In 2005, the 10th Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East (October 31 to November 7, 2005) decided on a Joint Declaration on Sacramental Life ("concerning the seven [!] Sacraments") by Assyrian and Roman Catholics , which it considered eligible for signature Church not to sign for the time being, because the third and final phase of the joint dialogue to be initiated after the signature could lead to the recognition of the authority of the Church of Rome. One reason for the delay seems to be current and ongoing internal church disputes, including the future connection between the Assyrian and Roman Catholic and Chaldean Catholic churches. They find their clearest expression in the controversial impeachment of Bishop Mar Bawai Soro (civil Ashur Soro), which became the subject of judicial and journalistic disputes. On October 31, 2008, Ashur Bawai Soro was excommunicated at a synod of bishops held in Iraq. Today he works within the Chaldean Catholic Church. On June 21, 2007 Mar Dinkha IV visited the Roman Pope Benedict XVI. in the Vatican and held talks with Cardinal Walter Kasper about the possible continuation of the dialogue between the two churches.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the Turks accused the Assyrian patriarch Shimun XXI. the collaboration with the Russian Empire . The patriarch also fell victim to the ensuing military conflicts in 1918. The successor Shimun XXII fled from the persistent harassment by Kurdish and Iraqi troops . 1918 with the Assyrian tribes in Iraq. After its independence, the new patriarch, Shimun XXIII. , Expelled from the country in 1933. He initially resided in England, and since 1940 in the USA. In the wake of internal church disputes, he was shot there in 1975.

The adoption of the Gregorian calendar and criticism of the continued heredity of the patriarchate led to the split since 1964, first under Mar Thomas Darmo , then under Mar Addai II , Catholicos Patriarch in Baghdad . This church, which has been officially recognized in Iraq since 1972, is called the Old Apostolic and Catholic Church of the East to distinguish it .

Important members of the East Syrian Church

See also


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  • Jean Étèvenaux: Chap. V: les missions de l'Église de l'Est en Asie jusqu'au XIVe siècle. In: Histoire des missions chrétiennes. Ed. Saint-Augustin, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-88011-333-4 .
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  • Johannes Oeldemann: The churches of the Christian East. Orthodox, oriental and Eastern churches united with Rome . Topos plus, Kevelaer, 2nd, updated edition 2008, ISBN 3-8367-0577-X , pp. 64–67.
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  • Jean-Pierre Valognes: Vie et mort des Chrétiens d'Orient. Fayard, Paris 1994, ISBN 2-213-03064-2 .
  • Klaus Wetzel: Church history of Asia. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1995, ISBN 3-417-29398-7 .
  • David Wilmshurst: The Ecclesiastical Organization of the Church of the East, 1318-1913. ( Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 582 / Subs. 104). Peeters, Leuven 2000, ISBN 90-429-0876-9 .
  • Joseph Yacoub: Babylone Chrétienne. Géopolitique de l'Église de Mésopotamie . Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 1996, ISBN 2-220-03772-X .
  • Gabriele Yonan: Assyrians today . Society for Threatened Peoples, Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-922197-00-0 .

Web links

Commons : Assyrian Church of the East  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Assyrian Church of the East ; Website of the World Council of Churches, Church Families
  2. Herman Teule: The Veneration of Images in the East Syriac tradition . In: Brigitte Groneberg , Hermann Spieckermann (Hrsg.): The world of gods . de Gruyter, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019463-0 , pp. 324–346.
  3. On the Church Sacraments, Book of Marganitha, Part IV ( Memento December 10, 2002 in the Internet Archive ),
  4. ^ J. Dauvillier: Les provinces chaldéennes de l'extérieur au Moyen Age . In: Mélanges Cavallera . Toulouse 1948, 260-316.
  5. Joseph Habbi (1966): Signification de l'union chaldéenne de Mar Sulaqa avec Rome en 1553. L'Orient Syrien 11, pp. 99-132, 199-230.
  6. ^ David Wilmshurst: The Ecclesiastical Organization of the Church of the East, 1318-1913. Peeters Publishers, Louvain 2000, pp. 21f. ISBN 9789042908765 .
  7. Joachim Jakob: East Syrian Christians and Kurds in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries . Lit, Vienna 2014, therein p. 95ff. (on the Catholic mission), p. 107ff. (on the Protestant mission) and pp. 131–132 (on the Russian Orthodox mission).
  8. ^ A b Shabo Talay (2008): The Neo-Aramaic Dialects of the Khabur Assyrians in Northeast Syria: Introduction, Phonology and Morphology. Semitica Viva 41, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden 2009. p. 15.
  9. Joachim Jakob: East Syrian Christians and Kurds in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries . Lit, Vienna 2014, therein the chapters The Young Turks and the Extermination of Christian Minorities in Eastern Anatolia during the First World War , p. 133ff. and The East Syrian Christians as Victims of Kurdish Attacks , p. 164ff.
  10. Otmar Oehring: On the situation and perspectives of Christians in north and north-east Syria. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Berlin 2019. pp. 32–35, tables in the appendix pp. 82–85.
  11. ^ Wilhelm Baum, Dietmar W. Winkler: The Church of the East: A Concise History. Routledge-Curzon, London / New York 2003, pp. 143–155. ISBN 9781134430192 .
  12. Pascal Meguesyan: Mar Yohanna al Ma'amadan Cathedral in Ankawa. Mesopotamia Heritage, April 2017.
  13. Mar Awa Royel: Biography of His Holiness Mar Gewargis III. ( Memento of October 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). Holy Catholic Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East, Official News Website, September 29, 2015.
  14. Original English text ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 32 kB)
    German translation (excerpt) ( Memento from November 15, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 81 kB)
    Printed a. a. in: Thomas Bremer u. a. (Ed.): Orthodoxy in dialogue. Bilateral dialogues between the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches 1945–1997. A collection of documents . Paulinus, Trier 1999, ISBN 3-7902-1456-6 , pp. 542-545.
  15. The tenth holy synod of the assyrian church of the east ( English , PDF; 109 kB) Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  16. ^ A Response to Cor-Bishop Felix Shabi. Announcement of the excommunication, accessed on October 7, 2015.