Final Communiqué of the Chaldean 2022 Synod
Baghdad 22-27 August 2022
At the invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako the annual Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church was held at the Patriarchate Headquarters in Al-Mansour / Baghdad from 22 through 26 August 2022, attended by bishops (listed below) of the dioceses in Iraq, Middle East and countries of diaspora:
Absent from the meeting for health reasons and others, are:
- Ibrahim Ibrahim – Bishop Emeritus of Michigan – USA
- Jacques Isaac – Patriarchal Vicar, Emeritus
- Sarhad Jammo – Bishop Emeritus of San Diego, USA
- Gabriel Kassab – Bishop Emeritus of Australia and New Zealand
- Rabban al-Qass – Bishop Emeritus of Dohuk
- Bawi Soro – Bishop Emeritus of Canada
- Francis Kalabat – Bishop of Detroit – USA apologized due to travel control related to Corona pandemic.
His Beatitude commenced the first morning session by praying to the Holy Spirit, followed by a speech, in which Patriarch Sako addressed the most important events and challenges facing the Church at home and abroad. He stressed the importance of working together as “one” team to serve the Church, shedding the light on forming the clergy (including priests and deacons) and watching over them with paternal “care” rather than authoritarian. Patriarch Sako focused also on Bishops’ duty in being committed precisely to the liturgical texts confirmed by the Holy See. He urged them as well to preserve the Chaldean identity in choosing the right name for their dioceses and parishes, except for the parishes whose people are mostly Assyrian Catholics. Finally, Patriarch Sako brought to their attention the compulsion of supporting the Chaldean League to help it playing its role for which it was founded.
The assembled Synod Fathers sent a letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, affirming their appreciation for his historic visit to Iraq (5-8 March 2021), which is still alive in the memory of all Iraqis. Bishops expressed their determination to have the Chaldean Church “as a whole” playing a vital role in preparing for the Synodal assembly in 2023 by encouraging all the people of God to participate in the life of the Church.
Bishops also sent an appeal to Iraqi politicians to form an honest and strong civilian government that would enhance the culture of citizenship. They paid a visit to His Excellency Dr. Barham Salih, the President of the Republic of Iraq at the Peace Palace.
The Synod Fathers studied the topics listed in their timetable for discussion and the measures they took are mandatory for the Chaldean Church:
- The Political and Economic Situation. They presented the general political, social, economic situation and immigration in Iraq and the countries of diaspora. As a result, they agreed to establish a “Chaldean Solidarity Fund”, to which Chaldean dioceses contributed directly a total of $220,000 (two hundred and twenty thousand US dollars), leaving the door opened for the donors to play their role in supporting this project. Assembled Bishops agreed also to dedicate Church collection / offerings of the third day of “Nineveh Baoutha” for this purpose as well. The Synod nominated 3 bishops to follow up on this project (Bashar Warda, Yousif Thomas Mirkis and Paolo Thabet Habeeb) working together with lay experts to present a comprehensive study on monitoring funds, its development, and granting aid to dioceses or ecclesiastical institutions…etc based on their needs.
- Situation of the Dioceses and Pastoral Affairs. Each Bishop shared the statistics of his dioceses including: number of its faithful, number of priests, their biography, as well as monks, nuns, evangelical deacons, and seminarians to be included in the annual directory of the Chaldean Church. Bishops also touched on the pastoral challenges they face, especially the consequences of Corona pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war, in addition to the unstable political situation in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon… They focused in particular on the phenomenon of increasing immigration and the urgent need for priests to watch over our faithful in diaspora. On a related subject, they called upon Iraqi officials to fully preserve civil rights of Christians.
- Church Sacraments Service for Free. Synod Fathers agreed to have free service of Church Sacraments in all Iraqi dioceses, except for what faithful offer for the Mass, which should go to the diocese’s financial department. They also agreed to set the salaries of the Patriarch, Bishops and Priests in Iraq as follows: the patriarch and bishops $1,050 US dollars (that is, one million six hundred thousand Iraqi Dinars) and the priests $850 US dollars (that is, one million and two hundred fifty thousand Iraqi Dinars). They expressed their support for needy people and parishes.
- Babel College of Philosophy and Theology: His Beatitude suggested the following to administrate the college: Sister Sana Hanna (Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), Dean of the College, Father Ephrem Gilyana (Director of the Seminary) as Vice Dean and Sister Caroline Saeed Jarjis (Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) Director of the related Institute of the Christian Education. Patriarch Sako thanked the previous dean, Bishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis for his service in the past years.
- Private Law. Bishop Felix Al- Shaby presented a draft of “special law”, in which he included the reforms sent by the Congregation of Eastern Churches. The Fathers discussed and their comments were taken into account. Patriarch Sako will send the final corrected version to the Eastern Council for confirmation.
- Liturgical reform. The Fathers reviewed the process of implementing the rites confirmed by the Holy See in all their dioceses, and promised that everyone would adhere to them strictly. These are: Mass orders, including the rite of Saint Thomas (His Beatitude shared Cardinal Leonardo Sandri’s letter confirming this order), baptism, matrimony and the formula of confession “robe” according to the Eastern tradition. Additionally, the Chaldean Patriarchate has recently worked on printing a new and elegant version of the liturgical book for Sundays, feasts and saints’ day readings, as well as the book of daily readings. Moreover, Patriarch Sako encouraged Bishops to translate these liturgical books into the languages spoken in their dioceses. He also advised that priests and deacons should wear a traditional ܨܪ ܚܨܐ on the priestly robe, instead of (currently used) rope. The Fathers also approved the inclusion of the Greek Fathers in the new calendar and to correct the misunderstanding of the sequence of Elijah and Cross seasons: so that, the fourth Sunday of Elijah will be the first Sunday of the Cross, and so on… There was a note also on unifying the chant “Heyah” in all dioceses, instead of “Hinga (which is used in Alqosh only)”. His Beatitude suggested to change few “typos” in the book of Mass Orders (the large Red book), for example:
- In page. 9, order of Mar Addai and Mary, within the paragraph of “prayer before the readings”, to replace the word “Your commandments” with “your word”.
- In page 81, order of St. Thomas the Apostle, within the paragraph of “the second bow prayer” to replace “O our King and our God…” with “O our God and our King”.
- New Bishops for Tehran, Urmia, and Turkey. Synod Fathers discussed the situation of Alqosh Diocese and unanimously took a decision to assign His Beatitude Patriarch Sako to follow up on this issue, especially, after the accident of Bishop Michael Makdassi on the first day of the Synod, resulted in a fracture in his thigh. Regarding Syria, a further year was extended for Bishop Antoine Audo.
- Synodal Procession. Synod Fathers discussed the role of Chaldean Church in the preparation for the 16th General Assembly of Bishops Synod entitled “Towards a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” which will be held in Rome in October 2023, at the invitation of Pope Francis,
In conclusion, His Beatitude showed gratefulness and appreciation for the bishops’ effective and responsible discussions during the Synod. Together, they call upon their daughters and sons to strengthen their faith in God, enhance their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, reinforce their trust in their pastors and be around them in order that our Church will have a living, renewed parade and to remain as a witness and martyr forever.