3,000 Assyrians Received into the Catholic Church
One bishop (Mar Bawai himself), six priests, 30+ deacons and subdeacons and an estimated 3,000 faithful were received into full communion during liturgical celebrations for the Feast of Pentecost. The announcement by the Chaldean Catholic Church can be found here.
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Mar Bawai Soro has long advocated the Primacy of the See of Rome. On November 2, 2005, he presented to the Synod of Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East (of which he was a bishop at that time) a paper entitled "The Position of the Church of the East Theological Tradition on the Questions of Church Unity and Full Communion " in which, among other things, he stated that
Five days later, Mar Bawai was suspended by the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church. The story behind this, as well as the full text of the paper on papal primacy that Mar Bawai had presented to the Synod, can be found here.
The Church of the East attributes a prominent role to Saint Peter and a
significant place for the Church of Rome in her liturgical, canonical and
Patristic thoughts. There are more than 50 liturgical, canonical and Patristic
citations that explicitly express such a conviction. The question before us
therefore is, why there must be a primacy attributed to Saint Peter in the
Church? If there is no primacy in the universal church, we shall not be able to
legitimize a primacy of all the Catholicos-Patriarchs in the other apostolic
churches. If the patriarchs of the apostolic churches have legitimate authority
over their own respective bishops it is so because there is a principle of
primacy in the universal Church. If the principle of primacy is valid for a
local Church (for example, the Assyrian Church of the East), it is so because it
is already valid for the universal church. If there is no Peter for the
universal church there could not be Peter for the local Church. If all the
apostles are equal in authority by virtue of the gift of the Spirit, and if the
bishops are the successors of the Apostles, based on what then one of these
bishops (i.e., the Catholicos-Patriarchs) has authority over the other
The Church of the East possesses a theological, liturgical and
canonical tradition in which she clearly values the primacy of Peter among the
rest of the Apostles and their churches and the relationship Peter has with his
successors in the Church of Rome. The official organ of our Church of the East,
Mar Abdisho of Soba, the last theologian in our Church before its fall, based
himself on such an understanding when he collected his famous Nomocanon in which
he clearly states the following: “To the Great Rome [authority] was given
because the two pillars are laid [in the grave] there, Peter, I say, the head of
the Apostles, and Paul, the teacher of the nations. [Rome] is the first see and
the head of the patriarchs.” (Memra 9; Risha 1) Furthermore, Abdisho asserts “.
. . . And as the patriarch has authority to do all he wishes in a fitting manner
in such things as are beneath his authority, so the patriarch of Rome has
authority over all patriarchs, like the blessed Peter over all the community,
for he who is in Rome also keeps the office of Peter in all the church. He who
transgresses against these things the ecumenical synod places under anathema.”
(Memra 9; Risha 8). I would like to ask here the following: who among us would
dare to think that he or she is more learned than Abdisho of Soba, or that they
are more sincere to the church of our forefather than Mar Abdisho himself? This
is true especially since we the members of the Holy Synod have in 2004 affirmed
Mar Abdisho’s List of Seven Sacraments as the official list of the Assyrian
Church of the East. How much more then we ought to consider examining and
receiving Abdisho’s Synodical legislation in his Nomocanon?
Following upon his suspension, Mar Bawai and the clergy and faithful who had remained loyal to him formed the Assyrian Catholic Apostolic Diocese, then proceeded to draw ever closer to the Catholic Church through the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate. How fitting that they finally came home on Pentecost Sunday. Deo Gratias!
To our dear brothers and sisters of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Sts. Peter and Paul, our warmest greetings of welcome!