ASIA/SYRIA – Syriac Orthodox Patriarch reconciles with four Bishops who had accused him of “betrayal of faith

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Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate
Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aprem II, Primate of the Syriac Orthodox Church, has forgiven four of the six Metropolitan Bishops of his Church who in February had accused him of “betrayal of faith”. The patriarchal act, in a statement issued on April 29 by the Syriac-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, formally marks the end of the public inter-ecclesial contrasts that in the last months had troubled the life of the Syriac Orthodox Church. In the patriarchal text, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Patriarch reaffirms his role as “Successor of Peter” and guardian of the unity of the Syriac Orthodox Church, reporting that he received the letter in recent days in which the four forgiven Metropolitans apologised to the Patriarch for their offensive statements.
The six Metropolitans who came into conflict with the Patriarch had issued a statement on February 8, claiming that the Primate of the Syriac Orthodox Church no longer deserved the title of ‘defensor fidei’, since according to them had sown doubts and suspicions in the heart of believers, with statements and gestures “contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, according to his Holy Gospel”.
The Patriarch was also accused of raising the Koran, in sign of respect, on the occasion of inter-religious meetings (see Fides 18/2/2017).
In mid-March the Syriac Orthodox Bishops’ Synod had instead decided for the suspension ad divinis of the other two metropolitan Bishops who had signed the declaration against the Patriarch, while the other four who were then forgiven were urged to write by the thirtieth of April a letter of apology and repentance for the choices made in the past, considered to be lacerating for the ecclesial communion.
The two metropolitans suspended ad divinis in mid-March are Severius Hazail Soumi, Patriarchal Vicar in Belgium and France, and Eustatius Matta Roham. The latter had been expatriated in Europe at the end of 2012, and had never returned to his war-torn country. (GV) (Fides 3/5/2017)