The Chaldean Church Synod convened its annual meeting on 22-27 September 2016, in Ankawa / Erbil, chaired by His Beatitude, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako and the presence of twenty Chaldean Bishops of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the United States, Canada and Australia. The only absentee was Bishop Sarhad Jammo (Emeritus Bishop of St. Peter the Apostle Diocese in San Diego, western United States).
The Synod Bishops commenced their first meeting with prayers, asking the Holy Spirit to shower them with grace and wisdom to achieve the goals of their meeting for the goodwill of the Chaldean Church around the world. They implored for granting Iraq peace after the liberation of all the seized land, so that displaced can return to their homes, and life would be back to normal. Bishops also showed solidarity in prayers with their brother Bishop Antoine Audo (Bishop of Aleppo), may officials stop the war in Syria and sit together in a constructive dialogue to find a peaceful political solution that preserves the country and the nation.
Follow-up on the Synod Agenda
First, three candidates were selected for the Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle in San Diego, western United States, their names will be sent to Rome for H.H. Pope Francis to choose one of them. Besides, a new Apostolic Visitor was nominated for Europe. Whereas, the decision was made to postpone the nomination of new bishops for the vacant dioceses (inside and outside Iraq) till the next Synod, due to the current unstable circumstances and the liberation of Mosul.
Second, Synod members reviewed and incorporated, the agreed upon, changes into the text of the Chaldean Mass (Anafora of Addai and Marie), recently prepared and suggested by the new Patriarchate Liturgical Committee based on scripts of 2006 and 2014. The new version will be sent to the Holy See for their approval.
Third, list of all Saints mentioned in the Chaldean liturgy and traditions will be submitted with a support letter from 2016 synod to the Holy See to speed up the beatification and canonization process and integrating them in the calendar of the Catholic Church. On the other hand, Bishop Francis Kalabat was assigned to proceed with the application of the martyrs of the WWI, such as, Addai Sher, Jacob Abraham and Thomas Audo as well as the martyrs of the “post-2003”, such as Bishop Faraj Rahho, Father Ragheed Kani, 4 deacons, and Sister Cecil Sacredheart. The synod members decided to nominate Fr. Imad Khoshaba and Ribawar (the monk) to help him follow up on this process.
Fourth, the Synod agreed to adopt the Apostolic Exhortation of H.H. Pope Francis about the family and study the appropriate wayto introduce and explain it to the faithful and to use it in the ecclesiastical courts.
Fifth, in order to discuss the monastic and priestly vocations, the Synod invited: Superiors of religious congregations, Daughters of Mary; Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and Dominicans, the Apostolic visitor of the Chaldean Antonine Hermzdih Order and the Director of Saint Peter Seminary. They came across challenges and obstacles such as immigration, birth control, new culture and social media, the instability of the country, role model, and emphasized the role of the mentor as well as the necessity of focusing on psychology, education and sustainable forming.
Sixth, The Synod members agreed that priests and monks who left their dioceses and monasteries without formal permission had to leave their current dioceses immediately, for raising doubts among faithful. We could accept them, in a condition that one of the Chaldean bishops can accommodate them after a month or two of rehabilitation. While, priests should return to their bishops to regularize their status before commencing their pastoral mission. The Synod assured that Fr. Noel Gorgees has been fired from the Chaldean Church.
Seventh, highlight the formation of parish and / or pastoral councils, especially in the financial aspect. Such committees will open the door for faithful to participate in the “Church's life” and engage them in activities. It will help also in taking appropriate pastoral decisions, considering the uniqueness of each country.
Eighth, each bishop should feel free to study the subject of ordaining deacons and married priests with the church board and related committees to make the right decision and see what is appropriate for his diocese based on Canon Law by selecting those who have good spiritual, cultural, pastoral qualities and better to go through a well-prepared course before their ordination.
Finally, the synod bishops concluded their meeting on Tuesday evening, September 27 with a friendly call to all our priests, monks, nuns and faithful to witness to Christ and his teaching, especially that we are in the Jubilee Year of Mercy and to show a sense of responsibility, love, and hope. Also, to remain united with their church and its’ teaching by gathering around their pastors, and never fall for factionalism, criticism and rumor, since these things are disruptive. We believe that difficult circumstances are always temporary and will soon go away.