Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

LL Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East, Special Supplement

Volume 4 No. 206 April 1, 2014

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A Tearful Farewell to A Legend
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1. Foreword by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World

2. Unforgettable Memories - A Shepherd Who Captured My Heart by HB Baselios Thomas I, Catholicose

3. 'Our Patriarch is The Best' - Journey Down The Memory Lane by HE Yeldo Mor Theethose

4. An Interview with Archbishop HE Yeldo Mor Titus (Malayalam)

5. A Tribute to Our Departed Holy Father by Rev. Fr. Paul Thotakat

6. A Saint in Damascus by Very Rev. Abraham O. Kadavil Cor Episcopa

7. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas: The Equinox On Which The Church Rode Three Decades By Rev. Fr. Jerry Kurian Kodiattu, Malankara World

8. Footprints on My Heart by Janice Mathew, Malankara World

9. Pontiff to Legend By Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel, Malankara World

10. A Patriarchate Blessed by The Holy Spirit by V. Rev. Fr. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil, Malankara World

11. In Memory of LL Ignatius Zakka I Iwas A Poem by Sunitha Jijo Flowerhill, Malankara World

12. A Saint from Mosul by George Mathew


13. The Ecumenical Vision of H.H. Ignatius Zakka I, LL Patriarch of Antioch by HG Naheero Dr. Thomas Mor Themotheos

14. A Historical Agreement After More Than Fifteen Centuries by Archbishop Mar Powathil


15. The Apostolic Visit of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I by HG Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose Metropolitan

16. A Historic Apostolic Visit To India

17. Address of H. H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at The Second Mulanthuruthy Synod


18. Condolence Message From Pope Francis

19. Condolences From His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

20. Condolence Message From Baselios Cardinal Cleemis - Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

21. Statement from His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of The Coptic Orthodox Church and the See of St. Mark

22. Archbishop of Canterbury Expresses Sadness at Death of Supreme Head of Syrian Orthodox Church

23. Condolence Message From Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC General Secretary

24. HB Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India Reflects on The Legacy of HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas

25. HG Issac Mor Osthatheos, Metropolitan of Mylapore and Delhi Dioceses Reflects on The Legacy of The Departed Patriarch

26. HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas - Architect of a New Generation by Dr. Babu Paul

(The Photo Gallery is stored in a Different File to conserve your digital bandwidth. You can go between the files easily. Click on any title to display.)






31. About Malankara World


by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Editor-in-Chief, Malankara World

This had been a very difficult week. Somehow, events moved very fast. Within a short span of a week, we bid farewell to a much loved Patriarch and elected H.G. Cyril Aprem Kareem to become the 123rd Patriarch of Antioch with the name Ignatius Aprem II.

On Friday, March 21, 2014 we all heard the shocking news of the departure of our Holy Father to His heavenly abode. As a Christian, we all know that this earth is only a temporary stopping point for all of us. Our eternal home is elsewhere. Unless we die, we cannot go to the eternal home.

This is great in theory. As a practical matter, we all get paralyzed when a dear one departs from us. Our Holy Father was very sick for several years and we all knew that his departure was quite imminent. So, this should not have been a surprise. The reaction of the world, when heard about the departure of the Holy Father, speaks volumes about the life and legacy of Moran.

Reading through all those tributes, as well as reading about Moran in articles and books, had a profound effect on me. One thing that keeps popping up time and time again is the love, care and compassion of bava. We can know when it is genuine and when it is fake. When you have an encounter with Moran, you get transformed. You get inspired to do something good for the causes he championed. My younger brother, Shibu Mathew Pullolickal, is an example of what happened when he came in contact with Moran. He and my sister-in-law, Shirley Mathew, visited Patriarchate while on a trip to see the Holy land in 2004. They didn't have any appointments with bava and didn't expect to see him. But when they dropped in there unannounced, they were warmly welcomed by Fr. Kurian Joy,  Kallumkathara who was the Malankara Affairs Secretary to HH and studying syriac. There were treated with special coffee, biscuit, lot of sweets and other goodies. Then they were told that bava wants to see them. They were very surprised. Shibu and Shirley walked into bava's office and was met by the bava with that smile that stretches from one end of the world to other (like the smile Kadavil achen described in his recollections.)

Cheveliar Shibu Mathew Pullolickal and Shirley Mathew with HH

Bava encouraged Shibu to continue working for the holy church and blessed both of them. Two months later, he was decorated with the title of Chevalier. Shibu's attitude towards the church has gone into superdrive after that. Currently, in addition to his services to Kottayam Diocese, he also serves the church in the capacities as the Managing Committee member and working committee member. Shirley is very active in Morth Mariam Samajam and takes a lead role in helping poor families. Yes, they were transformed after the encounter with our saintly Moran!

When we read through the articles in this souvenir, we learn quite a bit about Bava's role in promoting ecumenical relations with other churches. His work with Catholic Church and Blessed Pope John Paul II is legendary. Catholic Church is known to be very inflexible historically; and they really do not have much to gain by promoting relationship with other churches as they are very big to start with. We should look at the agreement in this light. Moran must have done a great job in inspiring the pope to take this step. Bava has rolled the red carpet for all church heads, big or small, to the Patriarchate; he has never missed an opportunity to help anyone he can.

I recently read an article titled "The Inspirable Memories shall not die..." written by The Most Rev Joseph Mar Koorilose, Valiya (Senior) Metropolitan, Malabar Independent Syrian Church (Thozhiyoor) in connection with the Silver Jubilee of Patriarchal Enthronement of the Moran. I like to quote a few sentence from HG's article as it explains what other church heads saw in Moran:

His Holiness has been known for his keenness in receiving heads of the other churches and providing them with loving hospitality and assistance with a blessed ecumenical vision. My predecessor H.G. Mathews Mar Koorilose Metropolitan was invited to spend more than one week with His Holiness during the visit of Kerala in 1984-85. I was also cordially welcomed and received by His Holiness during my visit to Damascus in the year 1988. As Moran's guest, I spent three days in Damascus. Moran arranged my travel to visit important places like the Chapel of Ananias where St. Paul was baptized, Church at Omayad where St. John the Baptist's venerable tomb exists, etc., with Moran's then secretary Rev. Fr. K.V. Kuriakose (now H.G. Kuriakose Mar Juliose Metropolitan). After presenting me some gifts including one 'Sleeba' with paternal feelings, H.H. bid farewell to me on that visit on 24th of June 1988.

Moran had issued special 'Kalpana' to the vicars (Very Rev. Joseph Verghese Rambban & Rev. Fr. Darly Edappanghattu) of St. Ignatius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church at Dubai & Jacobite Churches at Sharja, Alayn, Abu Dhabi & Bahrain, instructing them to provide me with all necessary things for the celebration of Holy Qurbana including Tableeta. By that great kindheartedness of His Holiness, I was able to celebrate regular Holy Qurbana in those churches during my visit in the month of June & July in 1988. By that H.H's blessed prayerful support, again in the year 1995 (July 3rd) & 2003 (March 21st) by God in the heaven prepared me to participate in the Holy Qurbana and deliver sermons at Mar Ignatius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church at Dubai. My Successor Metropolitan H.G. Cyril Mar Baselios, was also received in that church in the month of March in 2003. It is to be noted that as a result of H.H.'s foresight, Mar Ignatius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church at Dubai got a beautiful church building at Jabal Ali (Dubai).

His Holiness's vision is always par excellence in all his accomplishments in field of Ecumenism. As I was taking rest just after a surgery, in the month of September 2004, my successor H.G. Cyril Mar Baselios Metropolitan visited His Holiness during the time of Moran's visit to Kerala and presented a memento.

"The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me; he has sent me to announce good news to the poor, to proclaim release for prisoners and recovery of sight for blind, to let the broken victims go free to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

The social ministry of the Church is enshrined in this Nazareth Manifesto. The translation of Nazareth Manifesto into reality is the responsibility of the church. God calls the Church for the cause of the poor, the oppressed and the rejected, to declare the love of God by word and deed. The 122nd Patriarch, His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, motivated and guided the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church through his conviction in the Nazareth Manifesto to search for new avenues to announce good news to poor, recovery of sight for the blind and let the broken victims go free. ...

The Social Ministry and Helping the Poor were subjects that were very close to the heart of Moran. During the Iraq crisis, and later the crisis in Syria, many of our faithful lost everything they had and became refugees. Moran took the lead in helping those in the refugee camps with whatever resources he could muster. Of course, the help was provided to everyone without any consideration of race, caste or creed.

Helping the poor and downtrodden was always high on Moran's agenda. On October 26, 2005 via Patriarchal bull No: E334/05 and later on September 20, 2007 via Bull No: E292/07, His Holiness founded an organization under the Holy Church named 'St. Ephrem Universal Syriac Orthodox Medical Mission.' SEUSOMM was officially inaugurated by His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas on July 7, 2008 at Damascus, Syria.

SEUSOMM Inauguration

St. Ephrem Universal Syriac Orthodox Mission (SEUSOMM) is the official social ministry of the Holy Church. It has the following objectives:

1. Provide financial, social, and medical assistance to the members of our church who are displaced by war, famine and other calamities in different parts of the world, including immediate attention to those who are in Iraq and those who are left for neighboring countries.

2. Establish a Medical Core for immediate deployment to places of need.

3. Establish Patriarchal University including a Medical branch at least in places which are now under-served.

Holy Father also started The International Syriac Medical Association (ISMA), an Association of Doctors, Nurses and other Medical Professionals in 2010 to help the poor people around the world. ISMA is said to have activities in more than 80 countries.

During the inauguration of the St. Ephrem Universal Syriac Orthodox Mission in Damascus, Syria, my cousin Philip Jacob and sister in law Dr. Susan Jacob, MD had a very unexpected and unusual experience with the Moran that they cherish in their hearts. Dr. Susan Jacob is a member of the Executive of the SEUSOMM. They went to Damascus to attend the inauguration.

SEUSOMM Board Members and Guests at its Inauguration with HH Zakka I Iwas

After the inauguration, Moran was decorating Mr. Chamathil from Dallas, TX with the title of Commander in the presence of HG Joseph Mor Gregorios (Kochu Thirumeni from Kochi), Catholica Bava, and others, a ceremony planned earlier. My cousin and his wife's flight was to leave in less than an hour. Kochu thirumeni introduced my cousin to Bava and told him that he is nominated for the title of Chevaliar by MASOC-NA. Bava said, "I want to make him a Commander." He instructed his assistant to bring all the medals and other documents. This move surprised everyone who were present there. My cousin had to borrow a jacket from another person to wear so bava can pin the medal on him! (His jacket was already packed.) In a rushed ceremony , so they won't miss their flight, Philip Jacob became Commander Philip Jacob! He got transformed in an encounter with our Moran!

His Holiness always believed that Christian Faith should produce Good Works since a tree is known by the fruit it produces. (Martin Luther and the reformed church does not believe in works; they teach that salvation comes solely from Grace.) Moran also believed that our works should be directed at the people who need our help most - like poor, sick and suffering. Moran had targeted his efforts at them. In a Lenten Encyclical in 2001, Moran defined what is true faith. Let me quote a passage from this encyclical to get a clear understanding of His Holiness' vision of social ministry.

The power of the living Christian faith is made manifest when coupled with good works, its parallel, which, like faith, are necessary for salvation. In this regard, Apostle James asks those who claim they are believers: "What is the use, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has not works? Can his faith save him?... You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe, and tremble. Would you know, 0 frail man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (James 2:14-25). ...

In his epistle to the Hebrews, Apostle Paul wrote, "For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and labor of love which you showed toward His name, in that you served the Saints and you still do" (Hebrews 6:10).

From here we know that the Lord Jesus wants us to serve the saints and His needy brethren and empathize with them. He wants us to look after them, lend a helping hand to the poor, and call on the widows and orphans, considering our service to them a service to the Lord Jesus Himself, for they are His little brethren. We should consider what we do with and to them as if we were doing it to Him. This kind of work is considered to be the heart of the Christian faith, as indicated by Apostle James, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (James 1:27). Moreover, mercy is the daughter of love; therefore, he whose heart thrives with love of God, this love shall be manifested in his love for the neighbor. ....

It is difficult to summarize the life-long accomplishments of Moran Mor Zakka I Iwas in a short volume. Suffice it to say that he made an impact on everyone he met. Moran's departure is a great loss to our church and to the world. But then we have one more person to intercede for us. May his prayers be a fortress for us. Let me conclude with a quote of bava on prayer:

"Prayer is not an attempt to subdue the will of God for our desires, but is always an attempt to subjugate our will to the will of God."
HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas


I want to thank V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil for permission to excerpt a few articles from His Book, "Festschrist."

The photographs of the Funeral Service were provided by SOCMnet.

I want to thank Janice Mathew, a new member of Malankara World Team, for her timely help in editing some articles and Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel, another new member of Malankara World Team, for his assistance in preparing this volume. And, last but not the least, Sunitha Flowerhill for her help as a valuable member of the Malankara World Team. (If you want to see someone bubbling with enthusiasm, it is Sunitha. May be that is after her encounter with the Moran!)

Due to the time constraints, this volume had to be prepared in a very short notice. I want to thank Rev. Fr. Paul Thotakat, V. Rev. Abraham O. Kadavil Cor Episcopa  and Rev. Fr. Jerry Kurian Kodiattu who rose to the occasion and wrote the articles in spite of their busy schedules. Despite being extremely busy and grieving in Lebanon, Theethose thirumeni had responded, in a timely manner, to my query regarding this volume. Thank you Your Eminence. Thank you all.


Unforgettable Memories - A Shepherd Who Captured My Heart

by HB Baselios Thomas I,
Catholicose and Metropolitan Trustee, Jacobite Syrian Christian Church
Supreme Patron, Malankara World

Mortal Remains of LL Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas in Lebanon

I would like to thank God Almighty for giving us this opportunity to remember in gratitude the life of Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, our LL Patriarch and the Supreme Spiritual Head of our Church, who left for his heavenly abode on March 21, 2014 leaving a vacuum that is impossible to fill in our Holy Church.

We have had long association with the Patriarch and have many sweet memories to recollect and cherish. Moran has always been kind and loving to me personally. I have felt the warmth of his love when I was a bishop. Now as Catholicos, I feel it even more. Every time I visited the Patriarch, I was received with affection and love. Perhaps, the greatest expression of Moran's love towards me and confidence in me was my consecration as Catholicos. I shall always be grateful to Moran for granting me this honor and will try to live up to the expectations of His Holiness by doing whatever I can to preserve the true faith and traditions of our Church. With Moran around you, you can always feel heavenly blessings flowing. I have always believed that it is the divine glory in him that is very visibly expressed on his glowing face. It was always a joy to be with Moran and to listen to his sweet voice. Hearing his voice was always a delight.

The grace and magnanimity of His Holiness cannot be captured fully in an article or in a few words. We can only grasp a sliver of his saintliness in the words that follow. We remember accompanying His Holiness after his apostolic visit to India in 1982. His Holiness briefed churches everywhere about his visit to Malankara and its faithful people. Moran also visited the then President of Turkey. It was the first visit of a Patriarch of Antioch since Patriarch Elias III to the President of Turkey. In 2000, His Holiness was also blessed by God in being able to offer Holy Eucharist at the site of the ancient Church in Antioch. This was an historic event that came to pass after many centuries.

His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas was installed as Patriarch of Antioch and all the East on September 14, 1980. In the first apostolic address as Patriarch, His Holiness stressed the need for a major seminary of international standard for the Church. With this vision in mind, he bought about 30 acres of land about 20 miles away from Old Damascus in a splendid and picturesque area. This place has now grown into a modern suburb of Damascus with important centers of secular administration, superior lodging facilities, and good residential areas. When I first visited that place after the plot was secured, I could not grasp the farsighted vision of His Holiness in acquiring this piece of land. Now everyone who pays a visit to this place will recognize the care and farsightedness of His Holiness in planning for the future.

Today, we see in this place a magnificently built Patriarchal Seminary, in four floors with all facilities including the residence of His Holiness, accommodations for visiting dignitaries, theological students and an in-house chapel. Adjacent to it is a very beautiful cathedral, an auditorium with facilities to hold international conferences, a convent, and a guest house. The whole area is planted with olive trees which add greenery to the architectural perfection of the buildings. A new flat (apartment) complex with an in-house chapel is also built in this area. The development and progress that we see here is not merely the result of a human endeavor but definitely that of a divine inspiration that was shaped by His Holiness. It has enhanced the prestige of the Patriarchate among other ancient sees.

We see the tremendous progress and development of the Church not only in Syria, but also in countries such as Germany, Holland, Australia, USA, Canada, and South America. The ancient centers of Syriac Christianity are also witnessing a resurgence. I wish to mention here in particular the consecration of a bishop for Jerusalem, where the Syrian Orthodox Church has gained possessions in the holy city; the consecration of the successor to Mor Chrysostomos Musa Salama in Brazil, where the Church is developing along with the church in Argentina. Similarly the consecration of three bishops in North America has helped the overall development of the Church there. The foresight of His Holiness in consecrating young bishops has given impetus to the growth and vitality of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. In the Persian Gulf regions as well, His Holiness has paid visits to the government authorities securing support for the churches there to procure our own land to build houses of worship. New and magnificent churches have been built in Dubai, Sharjah, Alain, Bahrain, and Doha, among other places.

Coming to the situation in India, the Church is rapidly developing despite the crisis that the church experienced after the demise of the late H.B. Baselius Poulose II. His Holiness has made four apostolic visits to India, which is unprecedented in history.

The first apostolic visit in 1982 was very historic and epoch-making. He visited hundreds of churches and blessed the faithful and the public. His Holiness was received as state guest by the then government of Kerala.

The second visit was to commemorate the fiftieth consecration jubilee of late H.E. Mor Clemis Abraham, Chief Metropolitan of the East, in 2000. This visit was blessed and adorned by the reception of His Holiness among all sections of people and even by nature herself - the heavy rain that had deluged the state receded to honor the apostolic visit. The warmth of his love, his divinely inspired utterances and his saintly countenance attracted people from all walks of life to him.

In the third visit in 2004, the rival faction in Malankara attempted to create many hindrances. But His Holiness never uttered a word against the opposing faction and their partisans. The development of the church during the last twenty-five years was conspicuous. The overwhelming support of people from all walks of life was very evident during this visit.

The last visit of Moran to Malankara was in 2008. During that visit, Moran declared as saints Mor  Greegoriose Abdall Jaleel Bava entombed at N. Parur St. Thomas Church and Mor Paulose Coorilose Metropolitan entombed at St. Mary's Church at Panampady.

Group Photo - clergy with HH

We gratefully cherish the love and care of His Holiness for the Church in Malankara from the time of his consecration. The growth and development of our seminary here is also a witness to the care of His Holiness made evident to the Church in Malankara.

The Church in Malankara was blessed by the Patriarchal consecration ceremony officiated by the late H.B. Baselius Poulose II. It was for the first time in the history of the Church that an Indian prelate officiated at the consecration ceremony of a Patriarch of Antioch. His prayerful and thoughtful actions and interventions in the affairs of the Church in Malankara proves beyond doubt that the steps taken by His Holiness were guided by God and were well received and appreciated by all sections of the faithful in the Church as well as others in the society.

Consecration of HB Baselios Thomas I

The exemplary manner in which His Hhttp://wwwoliness implemented administrative measures was particularly evident when we consider the patience and prudence that he showed in the turmoil of Malankara affairs. In 2002, I personally witnessed the utmost care and planning that preceded the consecration of the Catholicos. His Holiness personally contacted all bishops of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church and engaged in appropriate legal consultations right up to the event to ensure validity and flawless conduct of the consecration. H.G. Mor Gregorios Joseph, the secretary of the Holy Synod of Malankara Church, was there with the other Church leaders to witness this historic event. To save the Church in Malankara, His Holiness consecrated four more Metropolitans and arranged to consecrate another Metropolitan in India itself. His Holiness consecrated Holy Chrism for Malankara during his third visit and blessed the Church here. I have had the privilege of being received by His Holiness in Damascus many times and I have admired his planning and his attention to detail in all actions and initiatives.

His Holiness was very keen on encouraging the youth of the Church in all fields of activities. Young deacons were sent to the different parts of the world for higher studies in theology; young educated monks were consecrated as archbishops, new archbishoprics were established and the youth are kept close and loyal to the church. His Holiness very keenly attended to all faithful of the Church scattered all over the world and was aware of the needs and necessities of the Church in this age.

His Holiness is honored wherever he visited. Many countries greeted him as state guests, Christian Churches received him as a man of God, the World Council of Churches honored him as one of its Presidents, the Pro Oriente Foundation, Vienna, venerated him as its Protector, and the children of the Syrian Orthodox Church followed him as their spiritual Pontiff.

May his prayers be fortress to us all.

+ Baselios Thomas I Catholicos
(Transcribed from an interview by Very Rev. Kuriakose Moolayil at Kothamangalam)
Source: The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor) Used with Permission

'Our Patriarch is The Best' - Journey Down The Memory Lane

by His Eminence Yeldo Mor Theethose
Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar,
Malankara Archdiocese of The Syriac Orthodox Church in N. America
Patron, Malankara World

I feel extremely lucky and honored to have been mentored and guided by my spiritual father, LL Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and All The East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. With the departure of my spiritual father, I truly feel like an orphan. This is a big loss to all of us in the Syriac Orthodox Church as well as to the Christian World overall. Let me explain why.

His Holiness was enthroned as the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East on September 14, 1980. Ever since he took over the leadership, the Syrian Orthodox Church has been on the path of steady progress. His task as the supreme head of a universal church, in the midst of countless number of denominations around the world, is never easy. Still it is the clarity of his vision and the commitment to his mission that has helped the Church to flourish all over the world. Today the Church has its presence in both in the East and the West and it is shepherded by 70 Metropolitans, including His Beatitude the Catholicos who functions under the Patriarch. His Holiness is very keen on promoting theological education among clergy. He explores each and every possibility for higher education, wherever possible, and sends suitable candidates there. As a result, today we have several of our clergy doing their theological studies in seminaries all over the world. Moran's contributions to the Ecumenical world are indeed commendable. It is a matter of honor and pride for the Church that His Holiness is one of the Presidents of the World Council of Churches.

My personal memory about His Holiness goes back to the day when I received the Apostolic Order from His Holiness, inviting me to Syria for theological studies, which changed my life altogether. From the first day of my arrival in Damascus, Moran made sure that I was well taken care of, even though I was just a deacon at that time. I still remember Moran sending special cakes from Damascus to celebrate my birthday in our Seminary at Ma'arat Saydnaya which is about 27 km away from the city. I had several opportunities to hear great things about our Moran Patriarch from those who came to visit His Holiness. His loving and caring approach to each and every person, his consoling words, paternal advice, and his mere presence are always a solace to every one.

Moran Mor Zakka I with HB Thomas I, HG Joseph Mor Gregorios and HE Yeldho Mor Theethose

During my stay in Damascus I had a chance to visit a person who was working in the Middle East Council of Churches, who said: "Your Patriarch is the best" and I asked him why he thought so. He replied thus: "His innocent face, loving heart and his lofty thinking... And I love him very much". I am sure, this was not flattery. Whoever has met or encountered with our Patriarch has always some thing great to talk about his personality. I have seen many people, even bishops from India approaching Moran with all sorts of issues. All of them have told me that our Moran is a treasury of wisdom and consolation and they all had some thing to learn from His Holiness. Like in the stories of the Desert Fathers, some of them used to say, "it is enough for us to just watch His Holiness' face"

I consider myself very much blessed, to experience personally, the paternal love and care from His Holiness and I record my gratitude for the same. Being the only person from Malankara to have received five ordinations from the Patriarch, that is, from Subdeacon (aufadiakno) to Archbishop, I am honored in writing this prayerful tribute to LL His Holiness the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.

May his intercessions be a fortress to all of us.

+ Archbishop Mor Theethose Yeldho

Adapted from The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor)

An Interview with Archbishop HE Yeldo Mor Titus (Malayalam)

By Babu, Thumpayil

HH Zakka I with HE Yeldo Mor Theethose

കഴിഞ്ഞ 10 വര്‍ഷത്തെ തന്റെ ഇടയശുശ്രൂഷയില്‍ അമേരിക്കന്‍ അതിഭദ്രാസന മെത്രാപ്പോലിത്തയും പാത്രിയര്‍ക്കന്‍ വികാരിയുമായ അഭിവന്ദ്യ യല്‍ദോ മാര്‍ തീത്തോസ് തിരുമേനി ഇത്രയും വികാരാധീനനായി കണ്ടിട്ടില്ല. 1997-ല്‍ വൈദീക വിദ്യാര്‍ത്ഥിയായി ദമാസ്‌കസ് സെമിനാരിയില്‍ ചെന്നതു മുതലാണ് തിരുമേനി പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയുമായി കണ്ടുമുട്ടുന്നത്. തന്റെ വിദ്യാര്‍ത്ഥി ജീവിതത്തിലും, പിന്നീടുള്ള ദയറാ ജീവിതത്തിലും പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവുമായുള്ള ആത്മബന്ധം തുറന്നു പറഞ്ഞു ഈ ലേഖകനോട് പലപ്പോഴും വിങ്ങിപ്പൊട്ടലോടെ.

ന്യൂജെഴ്‌സി വിപ്പനിയില്‍ തന്റെ ആസ്ഥാനത്ത് വെച്ച് നടന്ന അനുസ്മരണ പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥനയ്ക്കും, ന്യൂയോര്‍ക്ക് സെന്റ് ജോര്‍ജ് പള്ളിയില്‍ വെച്ച് നടന്ന കുര്‍ബാനയും അനുസ്മരണ സമ്മേളനത്തിനും ശേഷം അഭിവന്ദ്യ തിരുമേനി തന്റെ വേദന പങ്കുവെച്ചു.

തിരുമേനി എന്നാണ് പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവിനെ കാണുന്നത് ?

ഞാന്‍ ആദ്യം പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവിനെ കാണുന്നത് 1997-ല്‍ ആണ്. വൈദിക വിദ്യാര്‍ത്ഥിയായി ദമാസ്കസില്‍ എത്തിയ സമയത്ത് ഞങ്ങള്‍ വൈദീക വിദ്യാര്‍ത്ഥികളെ പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയ്ക്ക് വളരെ സ്നേഹവാത്സല്യമായിരുന്നു.

ആ കാലഘട്ടത്തില്‍ ഓര്‍മ്മിച്ചെടുക്കാന്‍ എന്തെങ്കിലും ?

തീര്‍ച്ചയായും. ഒരു വര്‍ഷം എന്റെ ജന്മദിനം ഓര്‍ത്തിരുന്ന് അദ്ദേഹം വലിയൊരു കേക്ക് വാങ്ങി കൊടുത്തയച്ചു. അങ്ങനെ ആ ജന്മദിനം വലിയ ഒരു ആഘോഷമാക്കി മാറ്റി. ഓരോ ചെറിയ കാര്യങ്ങളിലും അദ്ദേഹം വളരെ ശ്രദ്ധ ചെലുത്തിയിരുന്നു.

പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവിന്റെ ജീവിതരീതി ?

ആഗോള സുറിയാനി സഭയുടെ പരമാദ്ധ്യക്ഷന്‍, പണ്ഡിതന്‍, വാഗ്മി. പക്ഷേ പിതാവിന്റെ ജീവിതരീതി വളരെ ലളിതവും വിനയവും നിറഞ്ഞതായിരുന്നു. വിശ്വാസത്തില്‍ യാതൊരു വിട്ടുവീഴ്ചയും ചെയ്യാത്ത പിതാവ് സദാ പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥനയില്‍ മുഴുകിയിരുന്നു. എല്ലാ നോയമ്പും മുടങ്ങാതെ നിറവേറ്റിയിരുന്നു.

പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയില്‍ നിന്നും അങ്ങേക്ക് കിട്ടിയിരിക്കുന്ന വൈദിക പട്ടങ്ങള്‍ ?

5 വൈദിക പട്ടങ്ങള്‍ പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവില്‍ നിന്നും നേരിട്ട് എനിക്ക് കിട്ടുവാന്‍ ഭാഗ്യമുണ്ടായിട്ടുണ്ട്. അതിന് ദൈവത്തോട് നന്ദി പറയുന്നു. അതൊരു വലിയ അനുഗ്രഹമായി കരുതുന്നു. പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവാണ് എന്നെ അമേരിക്കന്‍ അതിഭദ്രാസന മെത്രാപ്പോലീത്തയായി വാഴിച്ച് അയച്ചത്. ആ ഭാരിച്ച ഉത്തരവാദിത്വം എന്നില്‍ ഏല്പ്പിച്ചത് അദേഹത്തിന്റെ ഉറച്ച വിശ്വാസത്തിന്റെ അടിസ്ഥാനത്തിലാണ്.

പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവിന് ഈ ഭദ്രാസനവുമായുള്ള അടുപ്പം ?

മലങ്കരയുടെ മക്കളാണ് ഈ ഭദ്രാസനത്തിന്റെ വിശ്വാസികള്‍. അതിന്റേതായ ഒരു പ്രത്യേക അടുപ്പവും വാത്സല്യവും എന്നും പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവില്‍ നിന്ന് ഈ ഭദ്രാസനത്തിന് കിട്ടിയിട്ടുണ്ട്. ആഗോള സുറിയാനി സഭയുടെ ഭദ്രാസനങ്ങളെപ്പോലെ പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയുടെ നേരിട്ടുള്ള നിയന്ത്രണത്തിലാണ് ഈ ഭദ്രാസനം. അതിന്റെ പദവികളും കരുതലും ഈ ഭദ്രാസനത്തിന് എന്നും ഉണ്ടായിട്ടുണ്ട്.

ആധുനിക കാലഘട്ടത്തില്‍ സഭ നേരിടുന്ന ആഗോളപ്രശ്നമാണ് യുവാക്കളും വിശ്വാസവും. അതിനെ എങ്ങനെ ബാവ കണ്ടിരുന്നു?

എല്ലാ വിശ്വാസസമൂഹവും നേരിടുന്ന ഒരു പ്രതിസന്ധിയാണ് യുവാക്കളെ എങ്ങനെ അവരുടെ വിശ്വാസത്തില്‍ നിലനിര്‍ത്താം എന്നുള്ളത്. അമേരിക്ക പോലുള്ള യൂറോപ്യന്‍ രാജ്യങ്ങളില്‍ അത് തികച്ചും ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടാണ്. പക്ഷെ, ആധുനിക വിദ്യാഭ്യാസം നേടിയ പരിശുദ്ധ പിതാവ് ആ ദൗത്യം ഏറ്റെടുത്തു. ഇരുപത്തൊന്നാം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിലേക്ക് സഭയെ കൈപിടിച്ച് നടത്തിയ മഹത്‌വ്യക്തിയായിരുന്നു പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവ. അനേകം സെമിനാരികള്‍ സ്ഥാപിച്ച് അതിന് ഊര്‍ജ്ജം കൂട്ടി. അതിന്റെ ഉത്തമ ഉദാഹരണമാണ് അമേരിക്കയില്‍ ഇപ്പോള്‍ സ്ഥാപിതമായ സെമിനാരി. 16 ശെമ്മാശന്മാര്‍, ഇവിടെ ജനിച്ചു വളര്‍ന്ന് വിദ്യാഭ്യാസം നേടിയവര്‍ സഭാപ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങളില്‍ ആകൃഷ്ടരായി പ്രേഷിത വേലയ്ക്കായി മുമ്പോട്ട് വന്നിട്ടുണ്ട്. അവരെ ആകര്‍ഷിക്കാന്‍ സാധിച്ചതില്‍ പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയുടെ പങ്ക് വളരെ വലുതാണ്.

സഭയിലെ സമാധാനത്തെക്കുറിച്ച് ?

ആ വലിയ ഇടയന്‍ ഒരു വലിയ സമാധാനകാംക്ഷിയായിരുന്നു. തന്റെ ജന്മദേശമായ ഇറാക്കിലും തന്റെ ആസ്ഥാനമായ ദമാസ്ക്കസിലും ഉണ്ടായ രാഷ്‌ട്രീയ അരക്ഷിതാവസ്ഥ, കലുഷിതമായ സഭാന്തരീക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ ഇവയെല്ലാം അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ ദുഃഖമായിരുന്നു. മലങ്കരയിലെ സമാധാനത്തിനു വേണ്ടി സ്ഥാനത്യാഗം ചെയ്യാന്‍ പോലും പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവ സന്നദ്ധനായിരുന്നു. 1500-ലധികം വര്‍ഷം പഴക്കമുള്ള തര്‍ക്കം കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയുമായി പറഞ്ഞു തീര്‍ക്കുവാനും പരിശുദ്ധ ജോണ്‍ പോള്‍ പോപ്പുമായി സന്ധി ഉടമ്പടി വെയ്ക്കാനും ബാവയ്ക്ക് കഴിഞ്ഞു.

അങ്ങയുടെ ദുഃഖം ?

എപ്പോഴും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അടുക്കല്‍ ചെന്നിരുന്നത് ഭദ്രാസനത്തിലെ ഭരണപരമായ കാര്യങ്ങളും, അതിലെ സങ്കീര്‍ണത കണ്ടിട്ടുമായിരുന്നു. എന്നാല്‍, അടുത്ത മെയ് മാസത്തില്‍ ഒരാഴ്ച പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയുടെ അടുത്ത് താമസിക്കുവാന്‍ ഞാന്‍ അനുവാദം വാങ്ങിയിരുന്നു. പക്ഷേ, ദൈവം അനുവദിച്ചില്ല. ഒരു വിങ്ങിപ്പൊട്ടലോടെ അദ്ദേഹം തുടര്‍ന്നു.

അടുത്ത പിന്‍‌ഗാമിയെക്കുറിച്ച് ?

അതൊന്നും ഇപ്പോള്‍ ചിന്തയിലില്ല എങ്കിലും, അല്ലപ്പോയിലെ ആര്‍ച്ച് ബിഷപ്പ് യൂഹാനോന്‍ മാര്‍ ഗ്രിഗോറിയോസാണ് സീനിയര്‍ മോസ്റ്റ്. പക്ഷേ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ തീവ്രവാദികള്‍ തട്ടിക്കൊണ്ടുപോയിരിക്കുകയാണ്. അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ തിരിച്ചുവരവിനായി പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥിക്കുന്നുണ്ട്.

പരിശുദ്ധ ബാവയുടെ കബറക്ക ശുശ്രൂഷയില്‍ പങ്കെടുക്കുന്നതിനായി അഭിവന്ദ്യ തിരുമേനി ഉടനെ തന്നെ ലബനോനിലേക്ക് പുറപ്പെടുകയും ചെയ്തു.

അഭിമുഖം തയ്യാറാക്കിയത്: ബാബു തുമ്പയില്‍

If the fonts are not displayed properly, read the article in pdf: Interview with Mor Theethose

A Tribute to Our Departed Holy Father

by Rev. Fr. Paul Thotakat
Vicar, St. Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church, Dallas, TX
Member, Archdiocesan Council, Malankara Archdiocese of Syriac Orthodox Church in North America

Fr. Thotakat with Holy Father

His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas left the mortal body sweetly and divinely on March 23, 2014.

"Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13:13).

I was and still am motivated spiritually by what I saw and heard some four years ago. I was part of a delegation from North America to meet with our beloved Patriarch in Damascus, Syria. We were welcomed by the warm hospitality of Rev. Dn. Joshi (Now Fr. Joshi) was complemented by a pervasive sense of spiritual warmth in His Holiness. We spent almost a week there. I came to know personally that the Holy Father was a person of grace, power and presence who lived a life of deep devotion to God. With generosity, humility, and sensitivity, our spiritual Father answered our call for support with a touch of reassurance, other times taking firm hold in a challenging situation. We had several sessions with Bava during this visit. Moran listened with rapt attention as we described our passion for helping candidates for ordained ministry in North America. His eyes gleamed with joy. We realized that Bava tenaciously, disregarding his poor health, was still bringing up the faithful from Malankara and their future generations and many others before God's throne. Moran worked with us with great patience and limitless encouragement. Bava very eloquently and concisely could phrase the need for protection of faith for future generations. Bava inspired us to develop a love and caring for our children growing up outside the countries from their parents origin. Holy Father knew – and communicated – that, what was at the heart of taking care of the Church is, loving the Church.

People who only knew him personally in his senior years knew that the joy and peace which truly radiated from Moran as he sat quietly in his chair in the office was the result of a lifetime of making good choices and wise decisions in accordance with God's Word. Bava was simply "a tree planted by the streams of living water that yielded fruit in season."

Holy Father was a brilliant light, and what he radiated was Love. That heart was open and welcoming, and we were all drawn to its nectar. The most common comment from anyone who spends time at Patriarchal Aramana was that they wished they had more time with His Holiness. Holy Father's love lives on and expands as it is carried in so many hearts. Bava impacted generations of the faithful in the Church, not only with the command of Christian doctrines but also personal commitment of a true shepherd to the flock. From early childhood until HH took the last breath, the magnificent Spirit that he is, Bava epitomized the definition of a "Holy man."

It is easy to associate quietness, self-deprecation and even-temperedness, with genuine spirituality, and, of course, these charming character qualities, which Christians and teachers so readily venerate, are analogous to fruits of the Spirit. To the degree that we are able to discern these things, he was the quintessential Spirit-filled Christian. Which of the nine fruits of the Spirit do you not associate with him: love, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? All of them were hallmarks of his character. Bava is the true definition of a Christian and His love for teaching is absolutely contagious. Throughout the years, Bava has graciously shared his knowledge of God, relationship with Almighty. By God's grace, Moran's legacy will last into the future generations; there will be multitudes, in the years to come, who will be anxious to build faithfully on the foundation he laid for those who followed him. Bava will greatly be missed, but his legacy will indubitably live on. Heaven is shining a little brighter now, but our world is dimmer without Bava.

It calls for us to depend on God that much more and understand that He has a plan and there's a time and a season for everything and everyone. HH's love and compassion for our diocese – " Malankara Archdiocese of North America" was unparalleled. We were honored to hear his heart about the faithful in this part of the world and the challenges we encounter and advised us to meet them with fortitude. I strive to be the Christian that HH was and to communicate Gospel truth with conviction and excellence.

Today we give special tribute to beloved Bava for his legacy of sincere, genuine spirituality which remains a fragrance in our church. Therefore, respectfully, lovingly, even reverently we say a temporary and temporal farewell to an esteemed father and spiritual model. I pray that GOD will encamp His angels around you and give you peace that surpasses all understanding.

Moran, You were such a blessing to this world. A man of brilliance, wisdom and compassion, you will forever be a role model to our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

With Love, Prayers, and Gratitude,
-Fr. Paul Thotakat

A Saint in Damascus

by Very Rev. Abraham O. Kadavil Cor Episcopa

It is with deep sadness that I have received the news that His Holiness, the Patriarch, has entered into eternal life. I went through a sense of void for few days. It was the funeral services from Beirut and Damascus that brought me into the reality of celebrating the Holy Father's life, rather than living with the feeling of loss. The presence of the Catholicose from Malankara, bishops, monks and nuns made the occasion, though sad, a living witness to the life of the Patriarch. There were heads of churches such as Coptic Patriarch Theodoros II, Armenian Catholicose Aram I, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna Yaziji, and Cardinal Kurt Koch representing Pope Francis attending the funeral service. The Patriarch's life and mission were magnified throughout the events of the funeral. His Holiness brought together people of different churches and religions closer to his life. Though there is attack against Christians in Iraq and Syria, the Patriarch always maintained a closer relationship with Muslim leaders. His Holiness visited Pope John Paul II in Rome and made common declarations regarding sacramental relations between Roman Catholics and Syriac Orthodox Church. Pope John Paul II also made a visit to the Patriarch at St. George Cathedral in Damascus.

The final resting place for the Patriarch's remains is at St. Peter's and St. Paul's Cathedral at Ma'arrat Saydhaya which is twenty five miles from Damascus. His Holiness has built this place as the Patriarchal Center for the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. It is with a sense of gratitude that the Holy Syriac Church chanted at the funeral, "Holy Father, Depart in Peace." The Church has seen a Patriarch who has touched the souls and hearts of people around the world.

As I look back on my own personal experiences with Moran, the incidents surrounding the Malankara Archdiocese from 2010-2019 when I served as the Diocesan Secretary comes to my mind.

I was chosen as one of the delegates that visited Damascus in April 2010 to talk to Moran about the future of the Malankara Archdiocese in North America. There were talks of the diocese being divided. We wanted to share our views on the future of the diocese with the Moran on one-on-one basis.

When we reached the Patriarchal Center in Damascus, His Holiness was in Lebanon. When the Patriarch arrived in the evening, the delegation was waiting to receive him at the door. As His Holiness saw us, we were received with the words, "You are welcome" with a big smile characteristic of Moran. In those few words, we could see the sincerity and warmth flowing from the Patriarch's heart. Though there were many people waiting to receive the Holy Father, including several deacons from the seminary, he did not forget to greet us which made the members of the delegation feel very special.

His Eminence Yeldho Mor Theethose had asked me to present the views of the Archdiocese as we met with the Patriarch. This was the first time that I was making a speech in front of Moran. Obviously, I was very nervous. But that didn't last long! As I stood up to share the thoughts of the Archdiocesan Council, His Holiness asked the deacon to give me a chair so I can talk while sitting down. I felt so humbled by this kindness shown by the Holy Father. He made me feel special!

Moran was a great listener. He listened carefully to what we had to say; he asked questions to clarify and understand our views. He ordered a commission to study the issue and report to Him directly. As a result of all these, Moran gave the Archdiocesan Delegates Meeting, which met in Dallas, TX in July 2013, the right to decide the structure of the Archdiocese. They voted unanimously to keep the Archdiocese undivided.

The Patriarch always had special concern for the youth of the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church in North America. I felt very blessed to be in the presence of the Saint in Damascus discussing matters related to the church in North America.

In June 2012, the Patriarch went , Germany for medical treatment. The Archdiocesan Council decided to send His Eminence Mor Theethose Yeldho with a delegation to visit the Holy Father. The Archbishop was unable to obtain the visa in time for the travel to Germany. Therefore I was chosen to go with two other council members, Babu Vadakedam and Jijo Joseph. We stayed at the same hotel where the Patriarch was staying. We were waiting for a time to visit His Holiness. We found out that the sisters took the Patriarch for a stroll outside the hotel in wheel chair. As they came in, I introduced myself and the other two friends. When I bent down, The Holy Father gave me a hug with a kiss on my cheek. I felt like a child receiving great affection from the father. We invited the Patriarch and party for dinner one evening. I was given a seat on the right side of His Holiness. It made me feel like a member of the Patriarchal Family. During our visit, the Patriarch especially inquired the welfare of Mor Theethose Yeldho. His Holiness showed great interest when we expressed the goal of buying a new Patriarchal Center and gave the blessings to fulfill that goal.

I will cherish those special days we spent with the Patriarch. His Holiness has inspired me, as a priest of the Syriac Orthodox Church, to follow the example the Moran has shown to the world. The Patriarch had a deep faith in God and love toward people. Let us thank God Almighty for giving us a saint to shepherd the Holy Church.

Jesus Christ said:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
- Matthew 16:18-19 (NIV)

LL HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, as the 122nd reigning Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, inherited those keys, preserved that rock and the church entrusted to him by his Master and shepherd it the way that was pleasing to his Master. May the prayers of the Moran be a fortress for us.

Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas: The Equinox On Which The Church Rode Three Decades

By Rev. Fr. Jerry Kurian Kodiattu
Lecturer, United Theological College, Bangalore
Malankara World Board Member

Two Patriarchs, A Catholicos and a Priest
Two Patriarchs, A Catholicos and a Priest
An old group picture with Ignatius Yacoub III, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
(not the patriarch at the time) and the Catholicose Baselios Thomas I
who was then Bishop. It was taken in Kuwait. The small boy in between
Patriarch Yacoub III and the Catholicose is the author, Jerry Achen.

The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, H.H. Moran Mor Iganatius Zakka I Iwas is no more. The Holy Father who led his sheep for 34 years is now a memory. As funeral service dates and the place of the funeral have been fixed and as people are waiting to be a part of the funeral, in person and online, one must bring grief, loss and confusion into perspective to come to terms with what has happened.

The patriarch did have health issues which were also linked with age but no one expected an end now. So much that many faithful in India are still waking up to the fact that their spiritual leader won't be coming to India again to meet them and share his love with them. His passing away is a loss in definite terms to everyone who knew him personally, those who saw him from far and those who read and heard about him.

Grief has to have a way of being dealt with and when a national or church leader dies we try to deal with the grief that we have. The Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas is and was seen as a spiritual father to all the faithful in the church. The grief we are trying to deal with today is the grief of having lost a father. Seeing pictures of the patriarch in church and even in houses has been a constant for these 34 years. It was the feeling that when you entered the two common and most warm places in your life, your Holy Father was there to greet you. That was a constant and this removal of the constant becomes one of the significant aspects of the grief felt. It is like saying that wherever we went and whatever we did, we could come back to our house and to our church and see this familiar face which would put us at ease.

The loss felt at this point of time is of having lost the person who stood as the symbol of leadership for everyone. He was the sublime face of what is and what isn't. Losing out on this face and the memories which come with it, make us feel that we have lost something so deep, committed and fixated in our hearts and minds that we cannot replace this with anything else. One has only one father and somehow another face cannot replace this immediately. The throne of the patriarch and the authority of the patriarch go beyond the personality of the patriarch but never the less the personality touches us in more ways than the throne or the authority can.

The confusion for the people is what happens next? Who will be the next patriarch and will that person be able to fulfill all that the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas has been to all? This confusion adds to the grief of having lost our father. It is the pain of uncertainty coupled with loss that makes grief even so much more hurtful. Many of us have already experienced this with the passing away of our parent/s. This puts us back in time to a place when we lost many things and it took time to get back to our normal lives. This time our mind tells us that we are repeating this feeling in our lives.

There are several things that give us solace and hope at this time though. The patriarch was born in an ordinary family and had an ordinary life style. He joined the seminary like any other youngster who wanted to serve the church. Iraq, where he was born, and Syria, where he then lived, went through severe strife and violence. The violence in Syria continues till date. He has had to deal with Muslim-Christian tensions which come with living in the same place and having a shared culture but different beliefs. He had to bear witness to the migration that people in his church had to undertake from their own land. He has watched the schism that affected his church in India. In essence, the patriarch watched not just the best of what happened in the church but the worst of what happened. His enthronement and period as Patriarch went through suffering and violence. But he withstood all of this with utmost sincerity and passion for service. At this time of grief, this gives us constant solace and hope. The Patriarch stood his ground no matter what and so will we, because we are, after all, his followers.

Such problems in his own church did not deter him from being ecumenical. He fostered good relationships with other churches and set forth a great precedent in church relations by coming together with Pope John Paul II to sign a historic agreement of acknowledging the misunderstandings that crept into the churches and looking at the way forward. His straight and upright relationship with various sister churches and with member churches in the WCC showed that he was as ecumenical as a Patriarch could be and one should be proud of that.

His scholarship and academic interest led him to pen several articles and a study of these articles exposes the openness and just theology of the Patriarch. His article on women in the church is a reminder to the people in the church that God does not take sides and, if at all, takes sides with the weak in society. His articles therefore become a good resource for further research and study. Perhaps his basic seminary education in Syria and his further education in the U.S. together with his experience as an observer in the Second Vatican Council and his association with the World Council of Churches as one of its presidents gave him the openness to see theology and doctrine as it is instead of seeing it as how he wanted to see it. His wish to have a place of education and research lead him to build the seminary in Syria called the Mor Ephrem Seminary and Monastery at Ma'arrat Saydanaya in Syria, where, incidentally, he will be buried. It further made him remark that seminary and theological education in the church was very important and hence the church needed theologically educated priests. His love for the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary is well known and his penchant for a system and a framework made him do things in the way that the Indian church wanted it at times. Scholarships in the Patriarch's name were made available, not just to Syrian Orthodox candidates, but also to Orthodox Syrian, Marthoma and other Syrian church denominations. I think it wouldn't be far fetched to say that other sister church denominations made use of foreign scholarships in comparison to our own church members. But we can see this as a good approach that the Patriarch followed in which he chose to give away a scholarship instead of seeing it go waste. The gloominess and vacuum of his departure can be made up, to an extend, by encouraging theological education and research in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. We would be honoring the Holy Father by such a distinguished decision and move.

The Patriarch's passing away on March 21 also signifies a special day, when usually on the 20th or 21st , night and day are almost on equal terms. It is also a day used to calculate the Easter date every year. The Easter date is calculated as the first Sunday after the full moon occurring on or after the Vernical Equinox or Spring Equinox, that is, after March 21. The Spring Equinox signifies that the son is betrayed, dies and is resurrected to attain eternal life. March 21 is seen as important by many religions. The Parsis commemorate it as the beginning of spring and the beginning of the New Year. It is also seen as the time of the fight between good and evil and of good emerging victorious. His passing away at a well placed time could suggest something hope filled to the church suffering from civil war in Syria.

A leader is a leader not just by the position he or she occupies but of what the leader makes of that position. The Patriarch vociferously expressed his expression for his flock. His four visits to India and his numerous visits around the world to meet people in the church were moments of the leader reaching out to his people. This was despite his flailing health and weak knees. Anyone who visited him felt the warmth and hospitality of a human being more than a leader. This raised his stature among the people and attracted people to him. One church member grieved the passing away of the patriarch and reminisced of his experience with the Patriarch saying that he felt a positive energy when he stood next to the Patriarch. His sadness was not just of the passing away but of the thought that he could not experience this positive energy anymore. This positive energy can make people attracted to a leader to the point that they feel assured and confident in the presence of such a leader. The Patriarch managed time and again to become a soothing presence to his people and to those who met him.

The Patriarch managed to bring more people to the church by seeing the change in times. Within the traditional understanding of the church he understood that when ordinary people want to come to the church, the doors of the church cannot be closed completely to them. This may have prompted the Patriarch to accept two churches from South America into the Syrian Orthodox fold. The first number about 100,000 and are from Brazil and the second number a whopping 800,000 and are from Guatemala. Such openness may also provide hope for many others all over the world. Whatever was the reason for the Patriarch to do this, the positive ramifications of this will provide more vigor to the church and prove that the church is much beyond specific race and tradition.

To sum up, the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas has managed to be a Patriarch and a true Holy Father for all the faithful. His spirituality, theology, and, above all, humanity have been something which the coming generations can emulate. Even as we grieve, the Holy Father has given us the hope of spring and resurrection. He has made us look forward to the rest of lent with renewed vigor, faith and hope. More than grief, he has reminded us of a new beginning and a fresh start. This is centered on the faith in the resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord. Go in peace our Holy Father and keep praying for us.

Footprints on My Heart

by Janice Mathew
Malankara World

"Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith." Hebrews 13:7

Footprints on my Heart by Janice Mathew

As a small girl, I always remember being so overwhelmed by the presence of our beloved Holy Father and over the years His Holiness engraved a very special place in my heart which words cannot sincerely articulate at this somber moment.

Our first meeting was at the early age of three and a half then again at age four for the occasion of my little brother's baptism. Of course at that age, I couldn't quite comprehend the enormity of meeting His Holiness our Patriarch yet something deep inside my soul was ignited. I always enjoyed browsing the photographs of the times our spiritual father came to visit our hometown of Dallas, Texas and hearing my father, Very Rev. Joseph C. Joseph Corepiscopas' joyful sharing of those memorable six days. I remember the paternal softness of our beloved Holy Father as my brother cried during his baptism, stroking his back during the Holy Sacrament to soothe the young boy as he was being held in the hands of Late Lamented His Eminence Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, our first Archbishop. With age I found myself intrigued by His Holiness, reading up on all the articles available in print in various magazines and publications and always looking forward to hearing the Christmas and Easter messages. Being 1000s of miles away from us, this was my means of remaining close to His Holiness.

Over the years, time and time again those that visited our beloved Moran would exclaim of His Holiness' humility, love, kindness and compassion of all our people of various walks of life. The more I heard of our nurturing spiritual father, the more I felt I wanted to stay near him. In the last several years with FaceBook, YouTube, and internet resources I felt closeness to our Patriarch through videos, articles, and photos. My heart yearned to learn more about our Holy Father. I remember visiting Theethose Thirumeni with my family once and seeing a magazine on the table featuring an interview with His Holiness. As Achen and Thirumeni exchanged pleasantries and caught up, I was studying the pictures and immersed in our Holy Father's words.

It wasn't until September of 2010 that the paternal love and blessings I experienced came full circle. I recall when my 4 year old son, Jacob and Fr. Bijo, by God's grace and goodness visited the Patriarch to celebrate His Holiness' 30th Patriarchal consecration anniversary. On the last day of the trip I received a phone call... "Jan you probably won't believe me but we met H.H. three times and Jacob was scared all three times but when we went to say goodbye H.H. leaned over blessing Jacob and said 'I love you Jacob' and kissed him". I thought to myself this Holy Father ranking highest among mortals takes notice of my little one not just as a passerby but took him in as a grandfather would and extended himself over and over to ensure he was comfortable. All that have been in the presence of His Holiness will testify the same over and over again.

Patriarch-memories by Janice Mathew

For weeks after the trip Jacob and Achen could not say enough about His Holiness. How simple, humble and saintly he is. The gentleness of his beautiful smile and heavenly grace that would heal any heart or brighten any day! The sharing of the story of how an insect bite at a very young age transformed to the cross on His Holiness' left cheek. Children very eagerly kissing the special spot to receive blessings. Over and over Achen would share how much our Patriarch loves Theethose Thirumeni and the American Archdiocese testifying that this was one of the most memorable experiences of his life.

Our faithful around the world referred to His Holiness as a "living saint because of the Christ like qualities he exuded. Regardless of whether you are a lay man, woman, child, dignitary, clergy he always welcomed all with the same genuine love, care and concern. These days humility and love are lost virtues. Our dear Holy Father is the only Patriarch my generation has known serving us over thirty three years. Bava is truly a very amazing man and this world, our Church, our people are experiencing a painfully tremendous loss.

Indeed our beloved has left us but we take solace in knowing the prayers and intercession will carry us through to eternity.

We love you, we miss you, and forever cherish the blessing of calling you our Holy Father.

Pontiff to Legend

By Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel
Malankara World Board Member

Our generation is blessed to witness a legendary pontiff of our Holy Church. H. H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas was enthroned the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and shepherded us for almost 34 years in the Holy See of St. Peter. Moran left us on the dawn of Friday, March 21, 2014, just one month prior to his 82nd birthday. Moran was under medical treatment, including dialysis, for almost a decade. But, in spite of his failing health and body, Moran was surprisingly healthy spiritually and intellectually. Moran was the longest serving Patriarch on the Throne of Antioch in the last two centuries and was one among the four in the entire history of the ancient Holy Church which enabled His Holiness to become a legend for the Holy Church and its people.

Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas, the 122th successor of St. Peter, succeeded the L.L. Moran Mor Ignatius Yakkoob III of blessed memory after his sudden demise.

H.H. Education:

Patriarch Iwas I, left his legacy as a successful orator, writer, and scholar both in the Western and Eastern Orthodox Theology. H.H. encouraged further education and studies and was the first Patriarch who had a Masters Degree in western theology from a foreign university. H.H. spent more than seven years in the United States for his higher education. Moran wrote many authoritative books in English and in Arabic as well as thousands of articles on various subjects to benefit the faithful around the world. As an orator, he attracted the attention of a wide audience all over the globe by his scholarship and profound knowledge in Eastern Syrian Theology, Church History, Biblical Literature, and Eastern, Western and Arabic Mythology. He was well connected with a world-wide circle of think tanks like, Very Rev. Arch Cor Episcopose Kurian Kaniamparampil (Malankara Malpan) and Dr. D. Babu Paul IAS (Former Addl. Chief Secretary of Kerala) of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church. Moran impressed the world leaders of Christendom by expressing his paternal affection and hosted many Christian movements worldwide in the audience of our Church.

H.H. Accomplishments:

Holy Moran was one of the senior most prelates in the universal Syrian Orthodox Church. Moran completed 50 years, in his Episcopacy. That is also a remarkable record in the Holy Church. Only a few of our bishops are able to outlive fifty years in their Episcopacy.

(Note: By the demise of Moran, all except one prelate who co-officiated the consecration of L.L. Augen 1 Catholicose became part of the history. L. L. Mor Augen was the only Catholicose consecrated in Malankara by the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. Including his visit accompanying H.H. L. L. Moran Mor Ignatius Yakkoob 3rd, for the peace making effort and consecration of L. L. Augen 1 Catholicose.)

India visit of HH

Patriarch Mor Zakka I made an earnest effort to visit his flock worldwide with highlights including: visiting Malankara five times – in 1964, 1982, 2000, 2004, and 2008. H.H. visited the faithful in North America 4 times - 1981,1986, 1994, and 2000. During his apostolic visit in 1994, Moran Zakka I consecrated St. Mary's Church, Los Angeles. So, this Church has the distinction of being the only Malankara Church in the United States to be consecrated by H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka I.

Moran took the initiative of visiting and developing relationships with world Christian religious heads. He went to their Church headquarters and initiated dialogues. This helped them to get to know each other and develop ecumenical cooperation. For example, his visits to Pope John Paul II resulted in a historical agreement between the two churches in receiving sacraments from each other. Emboldened by this success, H.H. extended his ecumenical efforts to the Greek Orthodox Church successfully.

After Patriarch St. Severus (+ 538) was forced to leave Antioch in 518, there are only a couple of occasions in which a Patriarch has been able to return to Antioch. His Holiness Moran Mor Zakka I made history by celebrating divine liturgy at the first church established by St. Peter at Antioch on April 2, 2000.

H.H. Malankara Legacy

Moran is perhaps most remembered in Malankara for his discovery of the Holy Relics of St. Thomas. The discovery of the Holy Relics took place during the construction of St. Thomas Church in Mosul. Moran presented a part of them to the Old Seminary in Kottayam in 1964 and to Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church in 2004.

Patriarch Moran Zakka1 made several bold changes to the liturgy in the Malankara Church. H.H. added the name of St. Thomas in the fourth Diptych of Holy Qurbana. This was warmly welcomed by all faithful in Kerala as St. Thomas is the disciple who travelled to India to teach and spread Christianity. He is considered the guardian angel to many. So, this action by Moran will be written in the golden annals of Church history. H.H. declared Moran Mor Ignatius Elias 3rd, the patriarch entombed in Manjinikkara, Kerala India (Malankara) as a Saint and added his name in the fifth diptych. He declared several saints, including St. Yeldho Mor Baselios Bava (Kothamangalam), Mor Zakralla baseliose bava (Kandanadu), St. Mor Greegoriose Abdal Jaleel Bava (N Parur), St. Mor Sleeba Mor Osthathios Bava (Kunnamkulam), Mor Youyakkim Koorilose Bava (Mulanthuruthy), St. Mor Gregoriose Gheevarghese (Parumala Thirumeni), St. Mor Paulose Athanasiose (Alwaye Trikunnathu Seminary) and St. Mor Paulose Mor Coorilose. HH authorized remembering the names of all these saints in the Fifth diptych.

The first Ecclesiastical visit to India was an important event in the history of our Church. Mor Abraham Severiose Metropolitan was consecrated during this Apostolic Visit. The consecration of Holy Mooron at St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Church, Manarcadu was another important event that took place during that visit. Regardless of faith, religion, caste, or creed, general populace from every walks of life enjoyed the holy visitation of Holy Moran.

H.H. repeatedly proclaimed his love and affection towards the diversity and unity of Indian culture, and other religions of India. H.H. expressed his integrity toward Indian constitution, Freedom struggle, The Great Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation, Sri Jawahar Lal Nehru, in almost all of his speeches. Moran appreciated The Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi, and The President of India in several occasions. India Government and Kerala Government decorated him as a state guest all throughout the Apostolic visits. The government provided VIP travel arrangements for Holy Moran. A special Police force was deputed for the personal safety of His Holiness. Mr. Sibi Mathew, a young and energetic IPS officer in the Rank of Supdt. of Police led a team of police including Deputy Supdt, Circle Inspectors, Sub Inspectors and constables and a convoy of police vehicles were assigned to protect the Moran during his apostolic visitation. Their devoted service was appreciable and un comparable. Throughout the entire period they were not able to take their timely food. Surprisingly they hesitated even to smoke from respect of Moran.

I was humbled to play a leading role during His Holiness two consecutive visits of 1982 and 2000. I was fortunate to enjoy a close interaction with Moran. On several occasions, I was privileged to hold his apostolic staff. In 1982, at a reception at Mezhuvely St. George Salem Jacobite Syrian Church, I translated the speeches of other speakers to English so Moran can understand them. While I was translating I couldn't find an appropriate word for Aranmula kannaadi presented to Holy Moran by the Aranmula Panchayath president as a gift. I described it as a Metal Mirror; while opening the cover, the image of Moran was reflected on it. Moran thought it was a Photo. So Moran said "Photo, Photo" two times. I told Moran, "Moran, it is not a Photo. It is a metal mirror. It is an ancient craft made up of bell metal and polished and glazed with secret herbal mix technology known only to one family." Later I came to know that metal mirror was the appropriate word to describe Aranmula kannadi. I believe, I was inspired by his presence and blessings to use the right terminology. A gift of the tongue blessed the disciples when they spoke.

As the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and All The East observes a bereavement period for the departed Supreme Head and Pontiff let us take this time to reflect on his many achievements and effect on the Holy Church and beyond.

Moran was a blessed pontiff of our times and became a legend of his time and for upcoming generations. May his prayer be a fortress to our Church and our generations to come.

Rev. Fr. Jose Daniel Paitel

A Patriarchate Blessed by The Holy Spirit

by V. Rev. Fr. Dr. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil
Malankara World Board Member

His Holiness was called by the Holy Spirit to the Patriarchate while serving as the Archbishop of Baghdad and was enthroned on September 14, 1980. It was God's providence and blessing for the Church that the Archbishop of Baghdad, Mor Severios Zakka, discovered the holy relics of the Apostle Thomas in the year 1964, the same year in which peace was established in the Church in India and a Catholicos was installed for Malankara in the canonically legitimate line. His Holiness, then archbishop, also participated in the consecration along with the late Patriarch H.H. Ignatius Yacoub III.

The blessings of the Apostle St. Thomas encouraged His Holiness to permit including, for the first time in history, the name of St. Thomas in the fourth diptych in the Holy Eucharist offered in Malankara Churches.

His Holiness is a very unique father in his life and contributions - a very hard working scholar, an erudite monastic par excellence, a loving and caring spiritual father, an administrator of prudence and patience, an articulate and moving orator, a skilful and powerful writer, an open-minded traditionalist, an ecumenist and at the same time the guardian of orthodoxy and above all a genius in many respects.

His Holiness has been actively involved in the ecumenical movement for a long time. The Second Vatican Council, the Vienna based Pro-Oriente foundation and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches were enriched by the scholarly participation and leadership of the then Archbishop Mor Severios Zakka. After becoming the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, His Holiness became the President of the Middle East Council of Churches. At the general assembly of the World Council of Churches held at Harare in 1998, His Holiness was elected as one of the seven Presidents of the Council. The Patriarch has been also accorded the title, "Protector of the Pro Oriente". The agreements that have been reached on Christology between the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches are considered to be a significant ecumenical contribution of His Holiness.

Antioch is the place where the followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). St. Peter, the chief of Apostles, is considered to be the first Patriarch of Antioch. Before going to Rome, St. Peter consecrated St. Ignatius as his successor there. His Holiness Zakka I Iwas is the 122nd legitimate Patriarch in this apostolic lineage. The See of Antioch during its glorious days had hundreds of archbishoprics and numerous episcopates, extending all the way to India and China. Antioch was considered the mother of all Churches, second only to Jerusalem in its ecclesiastical prominence. The Syrian Orthodox Church has been blessed with the rich heritage of the Syriac patrimony and literature. The Patriarchate of His Holiness Mor Zakka I has been blessed with the resurgence of Syriac literature. Universities of Europe, America and India today have eminent scholars who have specialized in this field and are bringing to light the hidden pearls in the vast ocean of Syriac literature. His Holiness, himself a profound scholar, is promoting the growth and spread of this important heritage.

We are all blessed to have lived and witnessed this era in the history of the Church with a holy and eminent father like His Holiness Mor Zakka I as our supreme spiritual head. His Patriarchate has proved to be the most flourishing and fruitful in every aspect of Church life.

Let his prayers be a Fortress to us.

Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil

In Memory of LL Ignatius Zakka I Iwas

by Sunitha Jijo Flowerhill
Malankara World Board Member

വിണ്ണിലേക്കൊരു യാത്രാമൊഴി......

വെണ്ണപോലുരുകും മനം...
വെണ്‍പ്രഭാവം ജ്വലിക്കും മുഖം...
വിശ്വശാന്തിക്കാത്മാവു ബലി നല്‍കി...
വാഴ്കെ വാണൊരു മഹാ പുരോഹിതാ...

Read the full poem. A Malayalam Poem in pdf.

A Saint from Mosul

by George Mathew
St. Peter's Syrian Orthodox Church, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church left for his heavenly abode marking the end of an era where this saint of God left the indelible mark of love of Christ in every aspect of his life and the multifaceted role he played in entire Christendom. Patriarch Zakka was born on 21 April, 1933 in Mosul, Iraq in the Iwas family, belonging to the ancient Aramean community mentioned in the Holy Bible. It is from Aramean and Aramaic that Syrian and Syriac evolved. Our Lord Jesus spoke in Aramaic, the main lingua franca during that time in Jerusalem, during his earthly ministry. Aramaic was the predominant official language of the middle east and Persia for centuries and was even used in the remote provinces of Herat, now located in present day Afghanistan.

His parents named him Sanharib in memory of the ancient Syrian ruler, father of Mor Behnam, who converted to Christianity. Young Sanharib lost his father when he was 10 and his mother when he was 12 years of age, and was looked after by his relatives. The loss of his parents made a deep impact on Sanharib and after deep contemplation felt the calling of God and decided to pursue a life dedicated to the Lord.

Senharib completed his schooling in Our Lady's Parish school and the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Church School, in Mosul. In 1946, he began his theological studies in Mosul's Mor Ephrem seminary. At the seminary, his birth name was replaced by the name Zakka, and in 1948 he was ordained as a deacon.

In 1954, Zakka decided to take monastic vows and left Mosul to become secretary to the patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Afram I Barsoum. In 1955 he was promoted to the rank of full deacon. In 1957, Patriarch Ignatius Abram left for his heavenly abode and Mor Ignatius Yaqub III was elected by the synod of the church to be the patriarch of Antioch. In 1933, Patriarch Yakub III had visited the Syrian Orthodox church in Kerala, India as Rabban Abdel Ahad and served as a teacher at the Mor Ignatios Dayro in Manjanikkara. In 1946, he had returned to the Middle East to teach at the Mor Ephrem Seminary in Mosul and was ordained Metropolitan of Beirut and Damascus in 1950 and subsequently got elected as Patriarch.

On 17 November 1957, Patriarch Yaqub III ordained Zakka Iwas a priest and in 1959 as rabban. In 1960, Rabban Zakka travelled to New York, USA for further study in oriental languages and obtained Master’s degree in English at City University. This was followed by another Masters in pastoral theology from the General Theological Seminary.

In 1962 and 1963, Patriarch Yaqub III delegated rabban Zakka as observer at Second Vatican Council in Rome. On 17 November 1963, exactly six years after becoming a priest, he was ordained by Patriarch Yaqub III as Bishop of Mosul and took the episcopal name of Mor Severios according to the tradition. During this time God used Bishop Severios to miraculously discover the relics of apostle St Thomas- the disciple known as doubting thomas who later took the gospel across the seas to distant India in AD 52 and sowed the seeds of an ancient thriving Christian community steadfast on traditions and Christianity of apostolic times even to this day.

In 1964 Bishop Severios accompanied Patriarch Yakub III as his secretary on his trip to India to consecrate the new Catholicose Baselios Augen. This was a glorious and unique moment of unity for the Syrian Orthodox church in Malankara (Kerala) witnessed by multitudes of faithful from all corners of the state. As a personal connection, I would mention a rather amazing fact of coincidence that among the innumerable faithful witnessing the consecration by the Patriarch, included my father Kalluparambil Chacko Mathew of Marukummoottil family, his brothers George and Chandy, my wife’s late father Elias Joseph Vaithara- all in their bachelor life, my mother Susamma's late father Madathil Idiculla George, renowned orator and convention speaker of the church, and her elder brother late Fr Prof Alexander George.

In 1969, Patriarch Yaqub III appointed Bishop Severios as Archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Patriarch Yaqub III left for his heavenly abode on July 25 1980. He was a great scholar who wrote many historical books on Church history and theology and was renowned for his melodious voice and rendition of Beth Gazo, Syriac music. On September 1980 Bishop Severious Iwas was consecrated as Patriarch of Antioch and all the east by Catholicose Baselios Paulose II.

In 1982 Patriarch Zakka made a historic visit to India and travelled extensively throughout the state visiting churches and his flock living even in remote areas. It was during this time that Patriarch visited Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala and consecrated the magnificent new church adjacent to the State secretariat and named it St. Peter’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church, a moment of thanksgiving for our parish and the whole Syrian orthodox church in Kerala. It is to be remembered that Archbishop Benedict Mor Gregorios of Syro-Malankara church played a key role in arranging a befitting welcome to the Patriarch during this visit. The author, a school boy at that time, vividly remembers with gratitude the blessed moment of kissing the Patriarch’s hand and also having a priceless family photo taken with His Holiness during the occasion.

Patriach Zakka considered the Syriac church in Kerala with nearly 2 million faithful, as the jewel in the crown of the Universal Syrian church and visited his flock in Malankara again during 2000, 2004 and in 2008 for the occasion of celebrating the. 80th birth anniversary of Catholicose Baselios Thomas I. One of the enduring images of Patriarch’s affection with Kerala is reflected in the unique bond with his spiritual son Bar etho briro Dr. D. Babu Paul.

The patriarch was a great believer in ecumenical movement and reconciliation. In 1984, Patriarch Zakka and Pope John Paul II signed the historic agreement for Communion, bringing an end to the 1500 year old unfortunate schism between the Roman Catholic Church and Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch which occurred following the debate on the definition of Christ’s dual nature during the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The 1984 joint declaration affirmed that the split of the Universal Church into two groups- Rome and Constantinople (Byzantine) church on one side and Antioch and Alexandria (Coptic) churches on the other side, was an unfortunate development and that difference is only in terminology and culture, with content of faith materially being same.

Ancient Patriarchal sees according to the Council of Nicea convened in 325AD by roman emperor Constantine were Rome, Antioch and Alexandria. Constantinople patriarchate was added in the council of Constantinople in 381 AD, recognizing the role of Constantinople as new Rome.

Following the council of Chalcedon in 451, the ancient church of Antioch had split into Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox (aligned with Byzantine church). In 1054 AD the pro-chalcedon- Roman catholic church and Byzantine church (Constantinople) had a great schism over the filoque clause, with the Constantinople church evolving into the Eastern Orthodox church as against the Western Latin Roman church.

Syrian Orthodox church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches. Patriarch Zakka was keenly engaged in deep ecumenical dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox church and the Greek Orthodox church of Antioch and succeeded in making progress in the path of reconciliation.

In his first visit as Patriarch to India, Patriarch Zakka made his intentions on unity of Syrian church in India clear by declaring that the doors for reconciliation are wide open. Though this did not see fruition during his life time, the outpouring of grief and affection among all sections of Syrian faithful in Kerala at the time of his separation from this world, point to the unique role and position of the ancient Syrian church of Antioch as a spring of blessing for all.

Patriarch Zakka ruled as the supreme head Universal Syrian Orthodox of for a long 33 and a half years. It is remarkable to note that this period exactly matches the length of our Lord's earthly life. The patriarch was guided by the Lord in molding and developing leadership by raising up blessed Bishops and leaders, to provide spiritual nurture to his flock, spread across Syria and India including the diaspora spread across the world, to be rooted in their ancient faith.

During the last few years the violence in Syria grieved the Patriarch, especially the loss of life and property of faithful in Syria, the abduction of bishops and the destruction of ancient Aramaic villages of Maloula and Sadad. Even during these calamitous times when he had to shift his headquarters from Damsacus to Lebanon, the Patriarch was ever faithful to the one who had called him from his mother’s womb, and continued his ministry of love and reconciliation. Patriarch Zakka's love for his flock and all humanity remained in its full radiance throughout his life.

It is relevant to note that the last encyclical of the Patriarch to his flock on the occasion of the great lent was a clarion call to think deeply about where we are going to spend eternity. This was a man of God who was ready to meet his Maker. Patriarch Zakka was called to his heavenly abode during the great lent, the special time of the year when all Christians remember with gratitude and devotion the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. May our tribute to this saint be to pray and help the suffering masses in Syria and other parts of the world, and to live in reconciliation and love with all our faithful brethren, eschewing rancor and discord. Patriarch Zakka reflected the pure and innocent love of Jesus to all of us. This was truly a saint who lived amongst us.

"May you go in peace, Holy Father"


The Ecumenical Vision of HH. Ignatius Zakka I, LL Patriarch of Antioch

by HG Naheero Dr. Thomas Mor Themotheos
Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese

The progress that the Syrian Orthodox Church has made in the ecumenical front, from the time H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas assumed office as the Patriarch of Antioch, is remarkable. The seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches met at Harrare the capital of Zimbabwe in Africa, in November 1988 elected His Holiness as one of the Presidents of W.C.C. I remember the occasion when the Chairman of the nomination committee declared the decision and the whole Assembly stood in applause, approving the same. That indeed was a great moment for the Syrian Orthodox Church. His Holiness became the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East on 14th September 1980. During the last twenty-five years, the church has made achievement in many fields. As the head of the church, H.H. has steered the course of the church in the right direction. Here I want to mention some of the strides that the church made in the ecumenical front. When the head of a church is a visionary with sound theological acumen and dedication, it is natural that the church is benefitted. His Holiness had his theological education in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The theological studies that H.H. pursued in New York at one of the theological faculties also helped in shaping the ecumenical vision. The leadership quality of His Holiness is evident from the newly built St. Ephraim's monastery at Saydnaya near Damascus, as part of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.

a) His Holiness and the Vienna Consultations

After becoming the bishop of Baghdad, His Holiness was deputed by the late Patriarch Ignatius Jacob III to several ecumenical meetings. Also, as an young bishop, he was taken to several ecumenical journeys of the late Patriarch. The trip to Rome and the agreement signed by H.H. Yacoub III Patriarch and the late Pope H.H. Paul VI, on the mutual acceptance of holy communion, and mutual pastoral care are remarkable ecumenical understandings. Ignatius Zakka I Patriarch, as bishop of Baghdad, was deputed to be a participant in the Vienna consultations.

The first Vienna consultation agreed upon the christological consensus between the Oriental Orthodox Churches (Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Ethiopian and Armenian) and the Roman Catholic Church. The unofficial consultations achieved many good things and the christological consensus was notable. The separation between the oriental churches and the western (R.C. Church) including the Byzantine churches happened at Chalcedon in 451 A.D. On the interpretation of the person and nature of Jesus Christ, the hitherto undivided church was separated as two entities. Whereas the Orientals said that our Lord has one nature comprising of the human and divine which are integrally one, the chalcedonian group asserted the two natures of Jesus Christ. The division of the then Christendom was a major set back to the church of Christ.

In the eastern provinces of the Roman empire like Syria, Palestine and Egypt, the strength of the church declined through the continued wars of the Byzantine empire. The ultimate result of the division was that the church in these areas could not resist the external onslaught from Islam, which became a driving force in the sixth and seventh centuries. Generally, the oriental churches were silently subdued by Islam and occasionally by violence. The western church, including the Byzantine church, too was crippled due to the division. The historical faith problem of Chalcedon remained as a stumbling block in the relationship between these two families of churches. The Vienna consultations were an unofficial attempt to resolve this historical problem. Through the joint declaration of the first Vienna consultation itself the problem was resolved.

H.H. was a delegate of the Syrian Orthodox church to Vienna. In 1980, after the enthronement of His Holiness, he has seen to it that proper representation was ensured in the consultations. In 1987, while I was a student an the University of Gottingen in Germany, I received a communication from His Holiness, to go and attend the third Vienna consultations. I attended the same along with the other representatives of the church. In all the Vienna consultation, the Syrian Orthodox church along with other oriental orthodox churches participated. The cordial relationship that the churches achieved including the Roman Catholic Church is a landmark in our ecumenical journey. The positive contribution of His Holiness in all these exercises is remarkable. The regional consultations held at Aleppo in Syria, Wadi Natrun in Egypt and Kottayam in India have made the results of the consultations acceptable at the grass root levels.

A word must be said about the joint commission between the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox churches. A similar understanding on the Chalcedonian issue was arrived at between these two families of churches. But no further progress has been possible due to hardline doctrinal stand of the Greek Orthodox theologians. We could hope that the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox families of churches would resolve the dividing issue through proper theological dialogue.

b) International Commission of Roman Catholic and Oriental Orthodox churches

If the Vienna consultations were unofficial in character, in recent times an official commission comprising of oriental and Roman Catholic theologians deputed by the respective churches have started functioning. The first preparatory meeting was held in Rome in 2003 and the Joint commission met in Cairo, Egypt, in February 2004. As a representative of the Church, I participated along with Gregorios Sliba of Lebanon. The next joint commission would meet in January 2005 at Rome. The outcome of these official consultations could be remarkable. We could hope that a new era would dawn in the fostering of a better relationship between these sister churches.

Even though the results of the unofficial Vienna Consultations have been used by the Oriental Patriarchs and the Pope of Rome, rejection of the Vienna Consultations by the Synod of the Coptic Orthodox church, is a matter of concern. We could hope that by participating in the official International Joint commission that church also would be a participant in the ecumenical journey. We could pray for a better understanding between the participant churches including the Coptic Orthodox. Another matter of concern is the non-participation of the Ethiopian Orthodox church due to the Eritrean problem. In the Eritrean region an Orthodox church has come into existence and through the support of the Coptic Church a new Patriarchate also became a reality. The Malankara Orthodox (Indian Orthodox) delegates could not attend the 2004 Cairo meeting. Their presence is expected in the Rome 2005 meeting.

c) Good Results from Regional Ecumenism

Moran Mor Zakka I with Pope John Paul II

The formation of a joint theological commission between the Roman Catholic Church and the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church was done through explicit permission of H.H. the Pope and our Patriarch His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I. This commission has achieved certain important understanding through the annual dialogues which are held in Kerala. Both churches have come to a consensus in the code of conduct regarding marriages that take place, when the partners are from the two churches. In the modern global situation interconfessional marriages do take place and it is only practical that a common understanding is made. This is cited as a step forward in the ecumenical journey of the churches whereby the day-to-day problems of the faithful members could be resolved through proper dialogical understanding. This practical arrangement has worked out well in Kerala and among the diaspora of Syrian Christians both Catholic and Jacobite. Also, through the efforts of the commission, the churches co-operate in the social witness and the theological formation of the clergy. In the Dioceses and Archdioceses of both Jacobites and Roman Catholics in Kerala, now there are closer co-operation in the various counseling programs and the formation of the laity for evangelism and mission. These forward steps are the direct and indirect outcomes of the efforts of the joint commission. His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I through the timely advice and common declaration with H.H. Pope positively effected these changes.

The Middle East Council of Churches is an organization through which the churches of the Middle East meet for theological reflection and joint action for the President of this council has made many outstanding contributions. In the fluid Middle East political scenario, the Christian churches have a great challenge. The common witness to the wider society and the relationship to the various types of regions demand unified approach from churches of different traditions like the Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and several others. We could hope that the present Iraq war and several other problems like Israel and Palestine issue would find fair solutions and that the churches in this areas would play a greater constructive role for the emergence of a free and democratic society.

d) Bilateral Dialogues

The multi-lateral and bi-lateral dialogues between the different traditions are important aspects in the modern ecumenical relationships. The dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox churches and the Reformed churches is such a one. Reformed churches are a confessional group separated from the Roman Catholic Church during the sixteenth century through the efforts of Calvin and Zwingli. These churches have a global alliance and they are engaging in dialogue with Oriental Orthodox churches in order to find out the commonalities and the differences in faith. This dialogues are important because many oriental churches are to be found in countries like Holland and Switzerland. The dialogue with Reformed churches also is through the guidance of His Holiness. The cordial and sisterly relationship between churches is an important aspect in the globalised modern situation.

The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox dialogue is another bi-lateral dialogue. The Anglican communion spread throughout the world has diverse dialogical relationships with various other church traditions. There is an ongoing dialogue between the Oriental Orthodox and Anglican traditions. The good results of these dialogues would be beneficial for the Malankara church and the other Indian churches like the Church of South India and Church of North India, because these two latter churches (CSI & CNI) have emerged mainly from the Anglican tradition in India, because of the 200 years of British rule.

e) Conclusion

As the supreme head of the Syrian Orthodox church, His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas has done a great service to the promotion of dialogues with other church traditions and between the Greek Orthodox and the Syrian Orthodox church, a special relationship has developed in recent times. The Antiochean wing of the Byzantine church and the Syrian Orthodox church have achieved a very cordial relationship in places like Syria and Lebanon. There are many bi-lateral agreements signed as a result of the mutual understanding. Several students and monks of our church are trained at the theological faculties of Greece. His Holiness the Patriarch made an ecumenical journey to Moscow during the celebration of one thousand years of existence of the Russian Orthodox church. Also must be mentioned the visit to the head quarters of the Armenian Orthodox church.

His Holiness receives many heads of churches and church delegations in Damascus. The present Pope visited the Syrian Patriarchate a couple of years back. The Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria Shenouda III visited the Syrian Patriarchate. The visit of the Armenian Cilician Catholicos to Damascus also deserves mention. Several international meetings are taking place at the new Patriarchate, Saydnaya, Damascus, now a days. All this has been possible through the great vision of the Patriarch. I am indebted to His Holiness in a personal way for deputing me to the Vienna consultations and to the recent international Joint commission of the Oriental Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches.

Source: The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor)
Used with Permission

A Historical Agreement After More Than Fifteen Centuries

by Archbishop Emeritus Mar Powathil
Catholic Diocese of Changanacherry

[Editor's Note: Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil is known for his in-depth knowledge of the ancient patrimony and East Syrian Liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and his strenuous efforts for its reformation and restoration of liturgy in accordance with the directives of Vatican II. This article was written in 2005. It contains important information of the key role played by the LL Patriarch Zakka I in the field of ecumenism and inter-church relations. The importance of the document is further enhanced by the fact that it is written by an important bishop of Catholic Church.]

As we know, the Patriarchate of Antioch claims the greatest antiquity of all the Churches of Christendom after Jerusalem. It was in Antioch that for the first time the disciples of Christ were called 'Christians'. Acts of the Apostles confirms this claim (Acts 11:26). According to tradition, St. Peter established the See of Antioch, presiding over it prior to his departure to the Roman West. In this period, the important political centres and their bishops had authority over the neighbouring centres and their bishops. Antioch enjoyed this pre-eminence. The Patriarch of Antioch held ecclesiastical authority over all the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, a jurisdiction confirmed by canon 6 of the Council of Nicea (325 AD).

His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the present inheritant of the Holy Throne of Antioch is very well known for his leadership and commitment in the field of ecumenism and reconciliation between the Churches. The initiative of His Holiness, the Patriarch and of Pope John Paul II in Rome led to the removal of the mantle of misunderstanding about the Christological formula of the Council of Chalcedon. At the conclusion of the visit of the Patriarch to Rome in 1984, in the common declaration Pope and the Patriarch stated that the past schism "in no way affect or touch the substance of their faith" since the divisions arose from terminological misunderstandings. They also stated:

"In our turn we confess that He became incarnate for us, taking to himself a real body with a rational soul. He shared our humanity in all things but sin. We confess that our Lord and our God, our Saviour and the King of all, Jesus Christ, is perfect God as to His divinity and perfect man as to His humanity. This union is real, perfect, without blending, or mingling, without confusion, without alteration, without division, without the least separation. He who is God eternal and invisible, became visible in the flesh and took the form of servant. In Him are united, in a real, perfect indivisible and inseparable way, divinity and humanity, and in Him all their properties are present and active." (1)

This common declaration, in fact, opened the way to Christological agreements with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches like the Coptic Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, etc. Both the Patriarch and Pope John Paul II will be remembered forever for this agreement after more than fifteen centuries.

The common declaration of Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, considered the two Churches so close that they could even envisage cooperation in pastoral care, including some sacramental sharing. The agreement states:

"It is not rare, in fact, for our faithful to find access to a priest of their own Church materially or morally impossible. Anxious to meet their needs and with their spiritual benefit in mind, we authorise them in such cases to ask for the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from lawful priests of either of our two sister Churches, when they need them." (2)

It was a historical agreement in modern time when the Catholic Church and an Orthodox Church have agreed to allow some forms of sacramental sharing.

The declaration foresaw cooperation in the formation and education of the clergy. "It would be a logical corollary of collaboration in pastoral care to cooperate in priestly formation and theological education. Bishops are encouraged to promote sharing of facilities for theological education where they judge it to be available" (3) Both heads of the Churches wished "to widen the horizon of their brotherhood and affirm herewith the terms of the deep spiritual communion which already unites them and the prelates, clergy, and faithful of both their Churches, to consolidate these ties of faith, hope and love, and to advance in finding a wholly common ecclecial life." (4) As a follow up to this agreement, a culture of mutual sharing of facilities for theological education, both for the clergy and for the laity, evolved in a special way in India.

The declaration added significant new elements to the developing ecclesiological consensus between the two Churches. It is an expression of Eucharistic ecclesiology that places the Eucharist at the centre of its understanding of the Church. It states:

"Sacramental life finds in the holy Eucharist its fulfillment and its summit, in such a way that it is through the Eucharist that the Church most profoundly realises and reveals its nature... The other Sacraments... are ordered to that celebration of the holy Eucharist which is the centre of sacramental life and the chief visible expression of ecclesial communion. This communion of Christians with each other and of local Churches united around their lawful Bishops is realised in the gathered community which confesses the same faith" (5)

Patriarch Ignatus Zakka was a fraternal delegate to the Second Vatican Council representing the Syrian Orthodox Church. His contribution to the ecumenical movement, through the Pro Oriente Consultation as the official delegate of the Syrian Orthodox Church, and later as the Protector of Pro Oriente is always remembered. He is also very active in the World Council of Churches, where he is at present a President, and the Middle East Council of Churches where he was once the Chairman. His scholarship in Syriac literature and theology is also widely acknowledged and appreciated.

While the Syrian Orthodox Church celebrates the Jubilee of the enthronement of their Father and Head, His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatus Zakka I Iwas, the other Syriac Churches thank God for him and join the bishops, priests and the People of God in praying for him.


1. Information Service 55 (1984) 62.
2. Information Service 55 (1984) 63.
3. Information Service 55 (1984) 63.
4. Information Service 55 (1984) 62.
5. Information Service 55 (1984) 62.

Source: The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor)


The Apostolic Visit of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I
The Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
The Supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church

by Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose Metropolitan
Resident Metropolitan of Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary

The personality of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka, the supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, can be summed in the words of a German Reformed professor, "a holy man, full of love, peace, simplicity, humility, openness and ecumenical spirit." India was blessed by the visit of His Holiness that started in Kerala on the 20th of September 2004 and by the silver jubilee celebration of His Holiness' consecration at Kochi on the 21st.

A biography of H.H. Ignatius Zakka I

H.H. was born on 21st April 1933 in Mosul, Iraq. He obtained his elementary education from a community school. Afterwards he continued his study at Mor Ephrem Theological School at Mosul. Here he completed his studies on the fields of history, philosophy, theology, and church law. He advanced in Syriac, Arabic and English languages and received degrees in each of these fields. Soon after the graduation he joined the faculty of theology. A year later he was called to the Patriarchate as the first secretary to the Patriarch, H.H. Ignatius Yakoob III. In 1957 he was ordained as a priest.

Ordination of Rabban Zakka Iwas

In the year 1960 he joined the General Theological College in New York and studied oriental languages, philosophy and pastoral theology and mastered in English language. In 1962 and 1963 he was delegated by the Patriarch to attend the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. In 1963 he was consecrated metropolitan for Mosul. In 1969 he became the metropolitan of Baghdad where he served as the head of the Syriac studies in the university and the member of the educational academy. In the same year he was selected as the president of the Academy of Iraq Culture. In the year 1978 he was appointed as the acting bishop of Australia. On July 11, 1980, he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod to the throne of Patriarch of Antioch which was vacant after Patriarch Ignatius Yakoob III's demise in 1980. On September 14, 1980, he was enthroned as the 122nd Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, by name Ignatius Zakka I, in a rite officiated by the late lamented Catholicos of the East, H.B. Baselius Paulose II, along with the archbishops of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church.

The Syrian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch of Antioch

The Christian Church has its roots in Jerusalem. Owing to many a persecution it had to leave that place. Antioch, the capital of then Syria, was a cosmopolitan city and became a refuge for the persecuted Christians. Slowly it became the centre of Christianity. St. Peter, the chief of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, first went to Antioch and established his throne in A.D. 37 and then left to Rome. (This paved the way for the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church to inherit the apostolic succession from the Petrine Throne). Antioch was the centre of Christianity in Asia and in Antioch the followers of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). The throne of St. Peter in Antioch was succeeded by the Patriarchs of the Syrian Orthodox church and H.H. Ignatius Zakka is the 122nd successor of Apostle Peter.

In the year 325, in the ecumenical council of Nicea, the whole Christian Church was brought under the Patriarchate of Rome, Antioch and Alexandria and later in the council of Constantinople the Patriarch of Constantinople was added. The church in Syria, Persia and the east were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Antioch. The Syrian Orthodox Church has been scattered all over the inhabited world. The universal Church thus seeks its unity in the Patriarch, the supreme spiritual head.

Patriarch of Antioch and the Malankara Church

According to the tradition, apostle Thomas came to India in the first Christian century and brought Christianity. But in the second and third centuries Indian Christianity suffered a lot without proper leadership and clergy. In the 4th century an immigrant group from Edessa, who were under the Patriarch of Antioch, came to Kerala and the Thomas Christians came under the hierarchy of the Patriarch of Antioch. The existence of the Church in India even during the 41, century under the Patriarch of Antioch is beyond doubt. Between the 14th and 16" century the Syrian Orthodox Church in India had to face some difficulties in maintaining the contact with the Patriarch of Antioch because of some political and colonial pressures in India. But overcoming the hurdles the church has been blessed and guided by the hierarchy of the Patriarchs of Antioch.

A core issue arose after 1912 in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India when a group in the Church started to question the role and the place of Patriarch in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. This group rebelled against the Patriarch and claimed that the Syrian Orthodox Church in India is an autocephalous Church and the Catholicose is equal to the Patriarch (In the church hierarchy Patriarch is the supreme head and the Catholicose is next to him). The other group retained the tradition of the Church affirming the supreme authority of the Patriarch and the Church in India, a part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. This conflict was brought to the Supreme Court of India and in 1995 the court declared that, "He (the patriarch) remains the supreme head of the Syrian Church of which the Malankara Church is a division. He is spiritually supreme to the Catholicose" (p.72. of the Supreme Court judgement 1995). Coming to an agreement, protecting the interest of the Supreme Court, will be a way out from the problem. Both factions follow the same liturgy, liturgical language, tradition (even liturgical vestments) of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

The Patriarch Is the Symbol of Unity of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Church is an invisible spiritual communion of the saints. But it is also a historical entity. The four characteristics of the church, one, holy, apostolic, catholic should be realized historically too. In the Syrian Orthodox Church this is happening through the Patriarch, who is the centre of unity.

H.H. Zakka I is a Pioneer of Ecumenism and Religious Tolerance

His love for his own Church and the love and respect to other Churches and religions have helped him to open a new era of ecumenism and unity with other religions. Ever since his enthronement, the Syrian Orthodox Church has its active presence in ecumenical bodies. His ecumenical thirst may be the reason that, even before becoming a bishop, he was sent by the Patriarch to represent the Syrian Orthodox Church in the second Vatican council. In 1988, in the 7' assembly of W.C.C. he was elected as one of the presidents of the W.C.C. It made him follow ecumenism sowed by his predecessor. The agreements between the Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church on eucharist and pastoral care were milestones in the history of both Churches to bring unity. For the Church in India the appointment of the Dialogue Commission between the Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church and the outcome of the agreement on marriage between the members of two churches signed by H.H. John Paul II and H.H. Ignatius Zakka I are to be worthily mentioned. This commission continues its task to bring unity among the churches and for common witness. His contributions to the Vienna consultation, and initiative to protect the Middle East Council of Churches shows his interest in this field. To make better unity with the reformed churches he is active in the 'bi-lateral and multilateral' consultations. The efforts of these discussions will bring forth fruits in relationship of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India with the Church of South India and the Church of North India.

His openness to other religions and cultures have helped him to identify the rich religious and cultural heritage of India. During his first visit to India he said "I come from a land where history was molded over the centuries. I come from an area, which has been rightly described by historians as the cradle of civilization. When I set foot in this country with its glorious history extending over thousand of years, the great land which is another equally notable cradle of human civilization, I am reminded of the essential oneness of humanity... Tolerance of the Hindu religion helped the establishment of Christianity in this country." In the religious pluralistic context of India his attitude towards mission is significant. He continued, "The forceful conversion is alien to the true culture and ethos of Christianity. I would even go to the extent of saying that it is immoral for any religion to attempt forcible or induced conversion. Christians in India should be able to attract their non-Christian brothers and sisters by living an inspiring Christian life". His Holiness is respected and honored in his country by the whole nation where 80% of the population is Muslims.

A Messenger of Peace

His life is a witness for peace and harmony that he practises in his person and in his relationship with other Churches and societies. One cannot forget his ardent desire and sincere attempt to establish peace in the Malankara church.

In 1995 the honourable Supreme Court of India delivered a judgement modifying the 1990 judgement of the Kerala High Court. The Supreme Court held that the Malankara church is not an autocephalous (completely independent) Church, but only a division (a part) of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, that the Patriarch is the supreme head and spiritually superior to the Catholicos. Immediately after the issuing of the judgement, His Holiness sent a general Bull to the faithful in India expressing his desire to establish peace in the Church. His Holiness wrote a second general Bull making some special suggestions on the basis of the 1995 judgement so that the peace to be established would be on a firm foundation. His Holiness also wrote directly to His Beatitude Basalius Mathews II for establishing peace in accordance to the Supreme Court's decision. Then H.H. sent his first secretary and the Patriarchal vicar for the Church affairs in India to meet the Catholicos. But the attempts and appeals fell on deaf ears. Then H.H. appointed a committee to have peace negotiations with the other group. But before the negotiations finished, the other side violated the mutual agreement and the peace talks collapsed.

At the instance of His Holiness the Coptic Patriarch and the Armenian Catholicos wrote to His Beatitude Mathews II about establishing peace in the Church. He interpreted the court judgement, "Malankara church is a division of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church", to mean that "the Malankara church is a Church divided off from the Syrian Orthodox Church" That is, the Malankara church is an independent church. (The supreme court had not held the Malankara church to be divided off from the Syrian Orthodox Church, but a part of it). So the peace attempts also failed. Then His Holiness directed the Church with him to seek the mediation of the other local Church leaders, politicians and social leaders unconditionally. Unfortunately the noncooperation of the other side left the attempts without fruits. Even now His Holiness is in pain because of the wound in the Indian church.

The Apostolic Visit to Malankara in 1982

H.H. Ignatius Zakka I had his first apostolic visit to India in 1982, two years after his enthronement as the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. He later spent time in India beholding the prayers and praises of his spiritual children in India. H.H. was received by the state Governments as their special guest and was provided with all facilities. Irrespective of caste, creed and denomination, large gathering assembled, where ever he visited. When he reached Kochi on the 7th February he was accorded a royal and loyal reception by a multitude, numbering about 300,000, including ministers and high dignitaries. Warm reception was showered on him by the Roman Catholic Church, The Mar Thoma Syrian Church, The Church of South India, The Church of the East, The Independent Church of Thozhiyoor and the Church of North India. It has to be recorded that our Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters also accorded him with a warm and memorable welcome.

During his visit H.H. consecrated the "Holy Mooron" at the St. Mary's Church, Manarcadu. He attended the 50th death anniversary of late lamented Patriarch Ignatius Elias III at Manjanikkara. Another important event was the consecration of a bishop at the Kothamangalam Mar Thoman Church (Cheriapally). In his visit H.H. visited more than hundred parishes of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India.

In April 2000, H.H. once again visited India, to attend the Episcopal golden jubilee of Mor Clemis Abraham, the late metropolitan of the Knanaya diocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

The Apostolic Visit of His Holiness in 2004

His Holiness celebrates this year the silver jubilee of his enthronement as the 122nd successor of St. Peter. The Universal Syrian Orthodox Church celebrates with the rigour of celebrates with rigour the blessed event throughout this year. Two millions of its members live in India and His Holiness was very much pleased to start the jubilee celebrations in India, the abode of tolerance, universal love and brotherhood. The concluding event will be in 2005 at Damascus in the presence of dignitaries from all over the world.

This holy visit was a new dawn in the history of the Church in India. On the 21st September 2004 all the adherents of church gathered at Cochin to celebrate the patriarchal jubilee. The public meeting was adorned by the presence of political, social, cultural and religious figures of the country.

Another significant event was the Jacobite Syrian Christian Association, convened in the presence of His Holiness at Mulanthuruthy, as a continuation of the famous "Mulanthuruthy Synod" of 1876. This was first time, after 1876, that an association was convened in the presence of a Patriarch. The association of 1876 (called Mulanthuruthy Synod) was a land mark in the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India. His Holiness Ignatius Pathrose III was present in that association and His Holiness put an end to the monarchical and autocratic administrative system in the Church and introduced a democratic set up in the Church. Seven dioceses were formed and new bishops were consecrated to look after them. Even today the Mulanthuruthy synod is the foundation for the present administrative set up of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India (p.8085 of the Supreme Court Judgement 1995). The 2005 Association, represented by the delegates of the whole church affirmed the true apostolic succession of St. Peter and the declared its loyalty and allegiance to the Holy Throne of St. Peter and the Patriarch of Antioch and to the 2002 Constitution and reaffirmed its faith. As the Supreme court of India said, the Syrian Orthodox Church in India is an integral part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch of Antioch its supreme spiritual head. It was also declared that the Catholicos faction, which claimed autocephaly and the throne of St. Thomas excluded themselves from the mother church.

The consecration of the 'Holy Mooron' at the Mar Thoman Church, Kothamangalam, was another high point in the Patriarchal visit. This was the fourth consecration, in chronological order, of the Holy Mooron in the history of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox church in India. Earlier Patriarch Ignatius Peter III, Ignatius Abdulla II and the present Patriarch H.H. Ignatus Zakka I had consecrated the Holy Mooron in 1876, 1910 and in 1982 respectively at the Mulanthuruthy Mor Thoman Jacobite Syrian Church and St. Mary's Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Manarcadu. Holy Mooron is normally consecrated by the head of the Church, the Patriarch. In emergencies, the Catholicos of the East can also do the same, with the permission of the Patriarch. The Holy Episcopal synod was presided by H.H. during his visit and the Jubilee memorial centre, at Puthencruz, was consecrated.

An Ardent Desire for Peace and Unity

The schism in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India is still an unhealed wound. It is an aberrant in the Christian spirit of unity, love, peace and witness. It is a burden for the society. The Patriarch is an embodiment of peace unity and blessing. His Holiness ardently desired to solve the problem in the Church. Since 1995 His Holiness and the Syrian Orthodox Church have been trying to solve the problem and were ready for any amicable settlement on the basis of the Supreme Court judgement. We have two options for a permanent unity and peace. Either keeping the ecclesiology, tradition, theology of the Church and preserving the Supreme court Judgement, let both parties be united by accepting the Patriarch as the supreme head and the Syrian orthodox Church in India as an integral part of the Universal Syrian Orthodox church or accept each other as separate sister Churches, ceasing the enmity. It was our ardent desire that the apostolic visit will be a boon for peace in the Church. It would have been the best contribution that the Syrian church can give to the Church and society, if the Catholicos faction freezes the suits filed against the Patriarch and the Jacobite Syrian Church, which is the main obstacle for the unity of the church. Unfortunately, instead of preparing an opportunity to sit together with the supreme head of the Church, the Catholicos faction approached the court to prevent His Holiness' Apostolic visit.

Let me recall the question of a journalist of the "Sunday" (4-10-1982):

Q. At the time when the Syrian Christian Community is so risen by factionalism, does not Your Holiness think that the visit is ill timed? It could cause more tension between the two sides?

A. "The purpose of my visit was to bring peace in the church for it grieves me deeply to see a section of the community break away from the authority of this ancient tradition. I had hoped that my visit would be a step in the right direction... may be my message of peace will strike roots in the minds of the people." His Holiness still prays and works for the peace in the Church. May His Holiness' dream be fulfilled.


The Holy Father's visit granted new strength and spirit to the spiritual children of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and this land was blessed by the presence of a holy man. After the Apostolic visit in Kerala His Holiness left to New Delhi to bless his children and to meet the political leaders of India. Showering apostolic blessings on his flocks, thanking the great land of India, the successor of St. Peter left for Damascus.

Source: The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor)

A Historic Apostolic Visit To India
The third Apostolic Visit of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, The Patriarch of the Antioch & all the East to Kerala and India (Sept 20-30, 2004) truly made history and will be preserved in the annals of the history of church. So, here is a recap of that historic event.

KOCHI-INDIA, Sep. 20: His Holiness the Patriarch of the Antioch and all the East Mar Ignatius Zakka-I Iywas arrived here on Mon­day on a seven-day visit to Kerala.

Amid high security, thousands of devotees thronged the international airport at Nedumbassery to accord a tumultuous welcome to the supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church. Minister of Sate Mr. Dominic Presentation received the visiting dignitary on behalf of the state government.

Catholicos Baselios Thomas I and other bishops of the Jacobite Syrian Church received the religious head and the bishops accompanying him.

Patriarchal Assistant to Malankara Mor Julius Kuriakose, Synod secretary Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon, Mor Thimotheos Thomas, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Miltheos Yuhanon, Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese, Mor Dioscorus Kuriakose, Mor Dionysius Geevarghese, the Church Priest Trustee and Malankara Malpan Very Rev Kurien Corepiscopa Kaniamparambil, lay trusty George Mathew Thekkethalackal, Secretary Thambu George Thukalan, Rambans, Priests, Sisters and a large number of faithful came to wel­come the supreme pontiff of the Holy Church.

Apart from the Minister of State, the Member of Parliament Lonappan Nambadan, U.D.F convener P.P. Thankachan, Members of Leg­islative Assembly, T.M. Jacob, Saju Paul, V.J Paulose, K. Babu, P.J Joy, T.H Mustafa, M.A Chandrasekharan and many other public dignitaries were also present at the Airport to receive His Holiness.

Though tired after a long journey, His Holiness Zakka greeted the people at the airport and extended blessings to the people of Kerala.

The Patriarch arrived by an Emirates flight from Damascus via Dubai to attend a host of religious and pub­lic functions during his third visit to the Malankara Church. H.H is accompanied by 12 member delegation, including Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Patriar­chal Assistant), Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Militius Malki (Australia) and the Principal of St. Ephrem theological Semi­nary, Damascus.

He will be accorded a public reception at Ernakulam on Tuesday marking the beginning of yearlong silver jubilee celebrations of his enthronement as the 122nd successor to St Peter. The Patriarch, later, proceeded to a hotel in Ernakulam. He will have no major functions on Monday, church sources said.

Apart from the Episcopal Synod of the Church at Karingachira on September 23, the Patriarch will also attend the convention of Jacobite Syrian Christian Association at Mulanthuruthy on September 27, seen as a major event, as a visiting Patriarch is attending the meeting for the first time since 1876.

Tight security had been thrown in and around the airport for the Patriarch who arrived here as the State Guest.

The Patriarch addresses press conference

KOCHI, Sep. 20: The Patriarch of Antioch, Mor Ignatius Zakka I, said here on Monday that Jacobites are ready to hold talks with the Malankara Orthodox Church on the basis of the 1995 Supreme Court verdict to foster ties with the two Churches.

The Patriarch told mediapersons that Jacobites did not want to fight but wanted to live in peace. "We want all the members of the Malankara Syrian Church to come together and hold discussions to have peace, which is not practical in the present circumstances'.

To a question on the possible tie-up with the Malankara Orthodox faction, his response was: "How can they come to me when they have filed a case against my visit to prevent me from seeing the people of Kerala. India is a great nation and it would not deny permis­sion to the head of the Church to see his people."

Elaborating on his moves to bring about a settlement, the Patriarch said: "The initiative to end the dispute was taken several times by the Jacobite faction and we waited for seven years before anointing Catholicos Baselios Thomas I as the head of the Jacobite Church."

The Jacobites, even in these circumstances, were ready for discussions on the basis of the 1995 Supreme Court verdict, he added.

When asked about the Church's stand if metropolitans who left the Jacobite Church after the Supreme Court verdict were willing to come back, the Patriarch said if such a thing happened, the Church would discuss it.

Referring to the activities of the World Ecumenical Movement, he said that the movement does not have any powers and it could only give advice on issues. The Patriarch is one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches.

About the role of Christians in India, he said India is a democratic country and Christians have their own role to play and that they should be proud of their nation. Asked about religious conversions snowballing into political issues, he said the Syrian Church did not have such a practice.

Joseph Mar Gregorios, the Synod Secretary and Kochi diocese Metropolitan, said "both the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court have accepted our stand. We have a rightful claim to carry on the age-old Syrian tradition. The other Orthodox faction claims to be part of the Church, but resorts to one litigation after the other and take over (individual) churches. We can accept them on the basis of ecumenism, since we do not want any more cases". He also added that the Government should come out with a formula to end the dispute over some of the churches in Kerala. The Government can take over the property of the disputed churches even while allowing believers to worship in these churches, he added. (The Indian Express)

Silver Jubilee of H.H. Patriarch's enthronement begins

About 2,00,000 people attended the jubilee inauguration

KOCHI, INDIA, Sep. 21: The grand celebrations marking the silver jubilee year of the enthronement of the Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I, began in Kochi today at 5.00 pm. About 2,00,000 people participated in the marvelous function held at the (late) Mor Baselios Paulose II Catholicos Nagar in Marine drive ground, Cochin. 50,000 chairs with two large screens and many closed-circuit TV's were arranged at the venue. The pandal itself was 1.5 lakh sq.ft. which is the largest erected temporary structure in the place. The Marine drive ground and the nearby city roads were overflowing with the faithful who came from all over the state. Even three hours before the meeting had started, the seats were full. As the Marine drive ground became insufficient to accommodate all, the faithful had to spill over to the nearby city roads as well.

At 5.00 pm His Holiness accompanied by the Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I came to the venue in an open Jeep. It passed through the specially arranged path in the centre of the ground. The over joyous crowd waved at His Holiness. The Patriarchal flags were seen everywhere. People were shouting Long Live Patriarch, Long Live Catholicos, Long Live Antioch-Malankara link !! The Police officers and organizers found it very difficult to control the people as they were so enthusiastic to come near the Patriarch. It was one of the biggest crowd the city has seen for many years.

The public meeting started soon after His Holiness reached the dais. The function which was presided by the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, started with the welcome address by the Holy Episcopal Synod President Mor Gregorios Joseph followed by the presidential address of His Beatitude the Catholicos.

At 5.30 pm the Chief Minister of Kerala Mr. Oommen Chandy inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of the enthronement of Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iywas to the Holy Apostolic throne of St Peter, the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East. Speaking on the occasion, Chandy applauded His Holiness the Patriarch for his great contribution in the Christian Ecumenical world. He hoped that the Patriarch's visit would bring prosperity to the Church and the Nation. Chandy also tried to bring into the attention that Ker­ala was a role model for other states with regard to religious amity.

Delivering the keynote address, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church in India stressed the role of Antioch and the Patriarchs in Church history. He also recalled the warm relations existing between Rome and Antioch. The bilateral agreement signed between Rome and Antioch in 1984 was a milestone in Church unity. The relations between Rome and Antioch were so warm that Rome invited Mor Ignatius Zakka (when he was only the Metropolitan in charge of Mosul diocese) as an observer in the Sec­ond Vatican council, the Cardinal said. The Cardinal also recalled the visit of the Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to Rome in 1984 and the Pope John Paul II's visit to the Patriarch at Damascus in 2001.

Mar Thoma Church supreme head Philippose Mar Chrisostem said that "Correction in the historic process is inevitable for all social movements.'' He wanted the Church leadership to make the silver jubilee celebrations of the enthronement of the Patriarch an occasion to recover humanity's love and righteousness. Mar Chrisostem hoped that the Patriarch's Kerala visit would accentuate the ongoing ecumenical movement in India.

Former Church of South India Moderator Bishop K J Samuel also spoke. He hoped that the Kerala visit of the Patriarch would be an impetus to the ecumenical movements in the country.

The veteran communist and leader of the opposition front in the Kerala Assembly V.S Achuthanandan, Union Minister of State for Power P.M. Sayed, former Union Ministers O. Rajagopal and P C Thomas, Ministers of State P K Kunjalikutty and Dominic Presentation, UDF Convener P P Thankachen, former State Ministers T M Jacob and K V Thomas, SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappalli Natesan, Member of Parliament Sebastian Paul, Press Trust Chairman Philip Mathew were among others who spoke. Various other Religious and socio-political heads were also present during the function.

The Patriarch in the end, addressing the mammoth gathering, said the relationship with the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and the Patriarchate of Antioch started in the early Christian century and was conformed in the council of Nicea in AD 325. 'We are glad to note that this ancient tradition is still kept alive. (Indian Express, The Hindu)

According to press reports this was the biggest crowd assembled at cochin in the near past. The meeting concluded at 8.15 pm.

Patriarchal address at the public meeting in Cochin

(September 21, 2004) We are extremely delighted to be here this evening with you all. It is always a great joy to visit India, the great nation of sages and saints, this beautiful state Kerala, "Gods own country", and particularly our church here in India.

We remember with much gratitude, the warm reception we received from the general public, the previous times we visited India. We still cherish the fond memories of those visits. We wish to once again thank the honourable governments, both at the centre and here in Kerala for their kind hospitality. We are happy that the same spirit has been shown to us even this time.

When we see this great crowd here, we marvel at the love that you show to the Holy throne of Antioch. We can only talk about our church in India with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we are extremely happy to see the progress our church has made under the efficient leadership of our spiritual brother in Christ His Beatitude Baselios Thomas 1st, the Catholicos and Metropolitan Trustee. His Beatitude is a born leader. God has bestowed many good qualities upon him. In times of crises he will never waiver. His loyalty to the Holy throne of Antioch is unflinching. He will never compromise aspects of true faith and traditions. He will always walk ahead and with his people. In His Beatitude you have a great leader whom you can always trust and look upon. He will stay like a rock when it comes to matters of faith. We remember with gratitude the great sacrifices of Late Lamented His Beatitude Mor Baselios Paulose IInd along with the late Lamented Mor Gregorios Geevarghese made for this church. We want to appreciate the leadership of His Beatitude Baselios Thomas Ist at this time and thank him for the same. May God grand him good health and long life. We also would like to acknowledge the services of all our Archbishops who stood with His Beatitude and the faithful, especially during the time of crisis. We urge all of you to continue to extend your prayerful support to His Beatitude Baselios Thomas Ist and to the Holy Episcopal Synod.

Christianity in India is as old as the beginning of the Christian Church. India had the great fortune of having received the gospel of Christ in the first century itself through Apostle St. Thomas. The relationship with the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and the Pa­triarchate of Antioch started in the first Christian century, was confirmed in the council of Nicea in AD 325. We are glad to note that this ancient tradition is still kept alive. While we rejoice in this, as the spiritual head of the church, we are equally saddened that a group has gone astride from the mother church.

Unfortunately, this rift has lead to many court cases in India, which has become a disgrace to the entire Christian community in India. As the Supreme head of the church, we have always stood for making peace in the church. In fact, the 1995 verdict of the Honourable Supreme Court of India provided us with an excellent opportunity for peace and unity in the both fractions here. However, we missed the opportunity because the other faction was not willing to accept the challenge. We tried our level best to make an amicable settlement on the basis of the honourable Supreme Court Judgment and waited seven years for unity and peace in the church. That was not to be. It was in this context and on the request of our faithful here that we decided to consecrate His Beatitude Baselios Thomas Ist as the Catholicos of our church here. Today when I see this crowd, I am more than convinced that we made a correct deci­sion and a correct choice. May our church continue to prosper under the spiritual lead­ership of His Beatitude Baselios Thomas Ist and our Holy Episcopal Synod in India.

At this time, we also would like to appreciate the Government of Kerala of its positive role and approach in our church affairs. The state government knew that our cause was just. We wish to record our gratitude and thanks for the Honourable Government for their care. Our particular thanks to the former Chief Ministers Mr. K. Karunakaran, late Mr. E.K. Nayanar, Mr. A.K. Antony and his council of ministers and his successor Mr. Oommen Chandy for their constant support and cooperation. Our sister churches and their leaders also expressed their concerns and extended their help in hands for reconciliation through mediation. Also the contributions of the cultural leaders of Kerala are worthy to be mentioned.

Once again we are so glad we could come to India, which is the largest democracy in the world. You have yet again proved through the recent elections that the roots of democracy here are, indeed, strong. Everyone can be proud of these traditions of democracy and secularism in India. We remember with great respect Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Nation. This land is the cradle of the rich and ancient culture and civilization. Kerala has been home to people of all faiths and nation­alities. When religious fundamentalism and conflicts are destroying nations, Kerala has stood as a model for all nations to learn from. Here, people of all religion live in harmony. We have experienced this during all our visits to India. Minority religions such as Christianity have received royal patronage from the Hindu rulers in the past. Our own church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, has been a beneficiary of this generous attitude of Hindu brothers and sisters. Our Syrian community, in turn has accommodated many aspects of Hindu culture in their social and religious life. We are happy to note that our church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with all religions here. It is our responsibility to be faithful to our own religious traditions and to be open to others and to respect the faith of the brothers and sisters of other religious traditions. We urge to continue this spirit of cooperation and to take a stronger role in nation building. The church is the ex­tension of God's incarnation in Jesus Christ. Our mission in India is to share the immense joy of Gospel, not forceful conversion. Gospel is to be shared not to be imposed and our challenge is to witness the love of God through our lives. It is our calling to be the voice of the voiceless, the poor and marginalized. We should never entertain a minority complex; rather we should continue to be part and parcel of the national life in India.

We take this opportunity to thank you all for the preparation of the Patriarchal Silver Jubilee celebrations of enthronement to the Holy Throne of St. Peter and for the good words. Let me thank Oommen Chandy, the Chief Minister of Kerala and his cabinet ministers for making my visit possible and all the facilities provided as a state guest and for his personal presence here. I thank Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil and all the leaders of the sister churches who were here and the social, cultural and political dignitaries present here.

We expect that you all pray for us to continue our efforts to glorify our Lord Jesus Christ through the years to come.

We wish you all the best and thank you. May God Bless you.

Kerala famous for religious amity: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy

Kochi: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said Kerala was famous for its religious amity and has maintained the tradition of religious harmony successfully. Addressing a mammoth public meeting after inaugurating the silver jubilee celebrations of Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, enthronement to the Holy Apostolic throne of St Peter, Chandy said Kerala was a role model for other states with regard to religious amity.

The Patriarch, in his address, said the relationship with the Syrian Orthodox Church in India and the Patriarchate of Antioch which started in the first Christian century was conformed in the council of Nicea in AD 325. 'We are glad to note that this ancient tradition is still kept alive.

While we rejoice in this, as the supreme spiritual Head of the Church, we are equally saddened that a group had gone astride from the mother church', he said apparently referring to the orthodox faction of the Malankara church. 'Unfortunately, this rift had lead to many court cases in India, which has become a disgrace to the entire Christian community in India', the Patriarch said adding as the supreme head of the church, we have always stood for making peace in the church.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan visits His Holiness

KOCHI: Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan met the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Zakka Iwas, here on Tuesday.

Jacobite church sources described the visit as a "courtsey call." The head of the Jacobite Syrian church in Kerala, Catholicos Baselious Thomas I was also present.

Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the su­preme head of the Universal Orthodox Syrian Church, reached here on Monday on a seven-day visit to Kerala. Paswan later left for Thiruvalla. (Indian Express)

The Patriarch offers prayers at Mor Clemis' tomb

CHINGAVANAM, Sep. 22: Thousands of faithful thronged the St John's Dayara Church on Wednesday to have a glimpse of Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius Zakka I, as he came to offer prayers at the tomb of the late Knanaya Jacobite Church Metropolitan Abraham Mar Clemis.

After a rousing reception at the church in the morning, the Patriarch offered 'dhoopa prarthana' at the tomb. Knanaya Metropolitan Kuriakose Mar Sevarios presided over the function.

Referring to the tirade against the visiting Patriarch by the Orthodox faction, Catholicos Baselios Thomas I of the Jacobite Church felt that the reactions of the opposite sect were borne out of an 'unsound state of mind.' He also charged the rival faction with torpedoing peace efforts in the Malankara Church.

The Patriarch also addressed Knanaya Association members. His visit turned out to be a joyous occasion for the Knanaya Jacobite Church since it was the first after the consecration of Kuriakose Mar Sevarios as the new Metropolitan. The Patriarch had been to the church in 2000 to participate in the golden jubilee episcopacy fete of former Metropolitan Abraham Mar Clemis. The Patriarch left for Manjanikkara by 4 p.m. to offer prayers at the tomb of the late Benyamin Mar Osthathios. (The Indian Express)

Rousing reception to H.H. Patriarch at Manjanikkara

PATHANAMTHITTA, Sep. 22: The head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church and Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Zakka-I Iwas, was given a grand reception at Manjanikkara Dayro when His Holiness came to pray at the tomb of Pa­triarch St. Elias III and other Metropolitans entombed here. Thousands of faithful were present there to receive His Holiness.

Speaking after the reception accorded to him by the Kollam, Niranom and Thumpamon dioceses of the Church at Manjanikkara Mor Ignatius Dayara at Omallur, the Patriarch said that the mission of his visit was to acknowledge the love bestowed on him by the faithful. The Patriarch lauded the contribu­tion of Mor Yulios, Yakob Mor Yulios and Benyamin Mor Osthatheos.

The public meeting held at the Manjanikara school grounds was presided by the Catholicos Mor Baselius Thomas-I. Metropolitans Mor Athanasius Elias Bahi of Damascus, Pathrose Mor Silvanos of Homs and Malki Mor Milithios of Austria accompanied the Patriarch to the venue.

The Metropolitans of the Church, Youhanon Mor Peelexinos, Kuriakose Mor Eulios, Geevarghese Mor Athanaseus, Markose Mor Koorilos, Gevarghese Mor Divanasios, were among the speakers.

Yuhannon Mor Milithios, Joseph Mor Gregorios, Mathews Mor Ivanios, Kuriakose Mor Yulios, Geevarghese Mar Athanasius, Kuriakose Mor Diascorus, Kuriakose Mor Theophilos and Kuriakose Mor Severius were also present at the meeting.

Earlier, the believers accorded a rousing reception to the Patriarch at the St. George Jacobite Church in Thiruvalla. He was received at the Omalloor Cross situated on the way to Dayro when he, escorted by a motorcade, reached there around 5-30 p.m. Malankara Malpan Very Rev. Kurien Cor-Episcopa Kaniamparampil garlanded the Patriarch and he was escorted to the Manjanikkara Dayro by the Metropolitans, Markose Mar Koorilos and Youhanon Mar Militheos, later.

At Manjanikkara, the Patriarch was accorded a reception under the leadership of Kuriakose Mor Yulios and Geevarghese Mor Dionysius. The Patriarch offered prayers at the tombs of Mor Yulios, Yacob Mor Yulios and Benyamin Mor Osthatheos. The Patriarch also said prayers at the nearby Mor Sthephanos Church. (Indian Express, The Hindu).

The book titled 'The Syrian Orthodox Church Calendar' released by His Holiness

Manjanikkara, Sep. 22: His Holiness the Patriarch today released the book titled "The Syrian Orthodox Church Calendar" by accepting the first copy from His Beatitude the Catholicos at the public meeting held at Manjanikkara. This book compiled and edited by Fr. (Dr.) Mani Rajan, contains the dates of feasts of the saints, fasts and festivals of the Church, dates of movable feats for the 21st century as per Julian and Gregorian Calendars and articles related to the origin and evolution of the Church Calendar.

The main source of the saints list included in this book is the manuscript of the Church Calendar revised by the monk-priest Saliba bar Khayrun of Hah (+1340), which was made available to the publishers by His Eminence Mor Julius Kuriakose Metropolitan, the first secretary to His Holiness the Patriarch. The feast dates and the list of saints in this book has been updated as of today. Total Pages 128 (English).

Copies are available in the book stalls at Manjanikkara Mor Ignathios Dayro, Kottayam St. Joseph's Cathedral, M.S.O.T Seminary, Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church, Manarcaud KEFA Book Stall, MGOCSM Kottayam, Orthodox Book Centre Kottayam.

Karingachira St. George Jacobite Syrian church declared Cathedral

KOCHI, Sep. 23: The Patriarch of Antioch & all the East and the Supreme head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I declared the ancient St George Jacobite Syrian church at Karingachira near Tripunithura as the cathedral of Kochi diocese, as part of the historic Episco­pal synod held here on Thursday, 23rd September 2004. The church will henceforth be known as 'St. George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral of Cochin Diocese'.

Established in AD 722, the St George church has witnessed several historic events in the history of the Malankara Church. The late Geevarghese Mar Gregorios Metropolitan, popularly known as 'Parumala Thirumeni' ascended the first step of ordination at this church.

This is the parent worship place of many churches including Tripunithura Nadamel Church, Kadungamangalam Church, Varikkoli Church, Kanyattu Nirappu Church, Veloor Church and Vennikkulam Church. The chapels like Kakkadu, Ambalamugal and Kureekkadu will also come under the control of Karingachira Church.

The church structure is a perfect blend of Persian and Indian traditional architecture. This historic and religious place, which attracts thousands of devotees irrespective of their caste, will be the first church in Kochi diocese to be upgraded as a cathedral. (Indian Express)

The Holy Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Archdiocese presided by the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East after many decades

KOCHI, Sep. 23: The Full-fledged Episcopal Synod of the Malankara Syrian Jacobite Church, held after many decades in the presence of Patriarch of Antioch, decided to broad base the activities of the Church across the country with more focus on indigenisation.

The synod also decided to set up more dioceses, consecrate additional bishops and translate the Church liturgy into various regional languages.

This was the first time in the recent history of the Malankara Church that the Synod was meeting in the presence of the Patriarch.

The synod, held at St George Jacobite church at nearby Karingachira, was attended by Catholicos Baselios Thomas I and 16 metropolitans, including three Syrian Metropolitans who accompanied the H.H. the Patriarch on this Apostolic Visit. Briefing reporters on the synod deliberations in the presence of the Patriarch, synod secretary Joseph Mar Gregorios said that the Church would carry out its expansion with special emphasis on indigenisation. "The Church is already on the path of Indianisation. But we want to accelerate the pace,'' he said.

Another major decision was the declaration of the St Mary's Church at Manarcaud as a pilgrim centre of the Universal Syrian Church.

The synod also permitted the parishioners of St Thomas Jacobite Syrian Church, North Paravur, and St George Church, Arthattu in Kunnamkulam to remember Mor Gregorios Abdul Jaleel and Mor Osthathios Sleeba in the prayers. The names of both the departed spiritual heads will henceforth be included in the 'Thubdeen' (the episodes in the prayer which remembers the forefathers and the rich heritage of the Malankara Church) of these churches where their tombs are located.

Answering a query, Catholicos Baselius Thomas I said that the Jacobite Church's ongoing tussle with the Malankara Orthodox Church did come up at the synod. "We are ready for compromise talks. But before the talks, they should 'freeze' the litigation and should cooperate with the Government for reopening the closed churches, facilitating worship of the members belonging to both the factions.''

The Metropolitans who participated in the Karingachira Episcopal Synod are Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon, Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese, Mor Thimotheos Thomas, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Yulius Kuriakose, Mor Koorilos Markose, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Dionysius Geevarghese, Mor Milithios Yuhanon, Mor Dioscorus Kuriakose, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Severios Kuriakose and the three Syrian Metropolitans Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Patriarchal Assistant), Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Milithios Malki (Australia).

The new Church Headquarters at Puthencuriz Consecrated

PUTHENCURIZ, Sep 24: His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, today consecrated the newly-built Patriarch Centre at Puthencuriz which will hence forth function as the headquarters of the Jacobite Syrian Church. The Catholicos H.B. Baselios Thomas I, Metropolitans, Samudaya Secretary Thambu George Thukalan and Samudaya Trustee George Mathew Thekkethalakkal were among those present at the function. The new centre consists of a chapel, Committee halls, office rooms for all the office bearers of the Church, central offices for the spiritual organizations of the Church, Library and Archives, suites for the Bishops, guest rooms, dining hall etc.

Immediately after the consecration ceremony, the Church Managing committee was held under the president ship of the Patriarch in which the Catholicos and all the metropolitans were present. Addressing the committee members the Patriarch said that he is very happy to see his brother in Christ, Catholicos Baselios Thomas I, leading this church with a Godly mission. "There was a time when a section within the Church had tried to mislead me saying that it was Catholicos Baselius Thomas I who was standing in the way of bringing permanent peace in the Church. Now, I am convinced that he was prepared for any sacrifice for unity.'', the Patriarch continued. The Patriarch extended all support to the Catholicos for leading the Church to prosperity. Afternoon, the Patriarch addressed the representatives of the various Spiritual Organization at the Church HQ.

In the evening His Holiness visited the tomb of late lamented Catholicos of the East Aboon Mor Baselios Paulose II at Malecuriz Dayro, situated only a few distance away. (In 1980 it was Mor Baselios Paulose II Bava who led the Patriarchal enthronement ceremony of H.H. Ignatius Zakka I.) The Patriarchal bull appointing Mor Dioscoros Kuriakose as the Metropolitan of Dayro was read on that occasion.

From Malecuriz, H.H. the Patriarch left for Mulanthuruthy Seminary where he met the Seminary students and the faculty. The President of the seminary & the Malabar Diocesan Metropolitan Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon, the Resident Metropolitan Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, the Principal Very Rev. Adai Corepsicopo and others received the Patriarch. Malankara Malpan Very Rev. Kurien Corepsicopo, the great Syriac Scholar and the author of many books, despite his old age, was also present at the Seminary to welcome the Patriarch.

Patriarch H.H. Ignatius Zakka I Iwas consecrated the Holy Myron at the Marthoma Cheriapally

KOCHI, Sep. 25: In an atmosphere charged with prayers and hymns, the consecration of myron (holy oil) was held at the ancient St Thomas Church (Marthoma CheriaPally) at Kothamangalam on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of Jacobite Christians thronged the church premises to witness the rare ritual.

Myron, the holy oil, is used to anoint persons receiving baptism by water. It represents the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The ritual, described as ''a great mystery'' in theological circles and among the Fathers of Churches, was led by Patriarch of Antioch Mar Ignatius Zakka I. The five-hour-long ritual was also a procla­mation by the Syrian Jacobite Church reaffirming its faith on the tradition of Antioch.

The consecration of myron was held in two phases. In the first, the 'preparations' prior to the consecration was held. Recalling how John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the deacons and the priests took out a procession around the church.

The second procession consisted of deacons, priests, 12 metropolitans of the Church and the high priest (the Patriarch) with the holy oil in his hand. The second stage of the ritual was the sanctification of the holy oil by offering special prayers. According to belief, the high priest, through his prayers, is expected to bring in all the dynamism of the Holy Spirit to the oil.

After the sanctification of the holy oil, the Patriarch blessed the world by spraying it in four directions. As a fulfillment of the sacrament, Holy Qurbana by 13 celebrants was said at a specially set up madbaha on the church premises.

It is after an interval of 22 years that consecration of Holy Myron is held in the Malankara Church. The ritual was last performed at Manarcaud St Mary's church in 1982.

Catholicos Baselios Thomas I assisted the Patriarch in leading the ritual. Mor Philoxenos Yuhanon, Mor Polycarpus Geevarghese, Mor Thimotheos Thomas, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Yulius Kuriakose, Mor Koorilos Markose, Mor Ivanios Mathews, Mor Dionysius Geevarghese, Mor Milithios Yuhanon, Mor Dioscorus Kuriakose, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Severios Kuriakose and the three Syrian Metropolitans Mor Athanasius Elia Bahi (Patriarchal Assistant), Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Milithios Malki (Australia) are the metropolitans who participated in the consecration of Holy Myron. (Indian Express)

St. Mary's Soonoro church at Cochin elevated as the Patriarchal Cathedral of India

Mor Yulious Kuriakose appointed as the Metropolitan of all the Simhasana Churches.

KOCHI, SEPT. 26: Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of the Antioch and all the East on Sunday declared the St. Mary's Soonoro Simhasana church at Ernakulam as the first Patriarchal cathedral in India and also announced the appointment of Kuriakose Mor Yulious, the first secretary of His Holiness, as the Metropolitan of all the Simhasana Churches.

At a well-attended function on the church premises this evening, the Patriarch, assisted by the Catholicos Baselios Thomas I and a host of other Church dignitaries held prayers at the Soonoro church before it was declared a cathedral at the public meeting.

The Patriarch triggered a bunch of blue and white balloons into the air with the help of a remote control device to mark the occasion as the crowd of about 2,000 people waved yellow flags. The Patriarch said he was happy to declare the Soonoro church a cathedral and appealed to the faithful to thank God for the favour.

The Patriarch then inaugurated a new building in memory of the late Gregorios Geevarghese, the founder of the Soonoro church. His Holiness also blessed the foundation stone for the construction of the new Cathedral.

Catholicos Mor Baselios Thomas I, who presided over the function, hoped that the construction of the new church would be completed soon. Besides the Metropolitans, the Fisheries and Sports Minister Dominic Presentation, Former Minister T.M. Jacob and 2000 odd parishioners participated in the function. (The New Indian Express & The Hindu)

Cathedral status for the Manarcaud St. Mary's church

KOTTAYAM, Sep. 26: The Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church H.H. Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iywas today elevated the St. Mary's Church at Manarcad as a 'universal pilgrim centre' and also declared it as a Cathedral amid chants of 'let Antioch-Malankara ties last for ever' by thousands of church followers.

Speaking on the occasion His Holiness reminded that the Syrian Church attached much importance to Virgin Mary and her intercession between God and believers. The Patriarch said the Manarcaud St Mary's Church had become a great pilgrim centre where thousands became blessed through prayers; and added that the miracles performed by Virgin Mary here were uncountable.

The Patriarch also announced on the occasion that the steps to declare the late Malankara Metropolitan Kochuparambil Paulose Mar Koorilos (Panampady, 1917), a saint, had commenced. His Holiness was accompanied to the church by the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, and Metropolitans.

The Patriarch call to shun abortion

The Patriarch during the sermon at the Manarcaud church came down heavily on abortion saying it as a crime committed by men and women and cautioned the faithful against the medical termination of pregnancy. Terming abortion a sin, the Patriarch said the killing of unborn children was on the increase. He called upon all those who have been party to medical termination of pregnancy to repent and receive Eucharist as a means to cleanse themselves of the sin. The Patriarch said the mothers had a duty of offering babies to the world and grooming them in a good way and recalled that Virgin Mary was a role model for men and women. (The New Indian Express & The Hindu)

The Jacobite Syrian Christian Association met at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman Church after 128 years under the presidentship of the Patriarch of Antioch & all the East

MULANTHURUTHY, Sep. 27: After 128 years, the 'Jacobite Syrian Christian Association', today met at the Mulanthuruthy Marthoman church premises for the 2nd time in its history under the presidentship of the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. It was at the same place the first Syrian Christian Association, which is also known as the 'Mulanthuruthy Synod' that was held for 3 days from June 27 -30, 1876, under the president ship of late Patriarch of Antioch Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV. The chief organizer of this historic Synod was Saint Gregorios (Parumala Thirumeni) who was the personal secretary to H.H. Patriarch Peter IV.

Now in 2004, it was another meeting of the 'Jacobite Syrian Christian Association' that was held under the presidentship of the Prince Patriarch of Antioch & all the East, Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iywas. In this second Mulanthuruthy Synod, 3582 members representing various parishes of Malankara Archdiocese has participated.

The Patriarch of Antioch, who delivered the presidential address, said that the Mulanthuruthy church should be called as the Jerusa­lem of India in view of the church becoming a holy place with the second synod also being held at the same place. The Malankara Syrian Church had proved that it could continue its democracy and tradition.

The Patriarch urged the devotees to continue the tradition of the church and become a role model for other churches. All the Metropolitans and clergy should abide by the Constitution on all church matters, he said.

The resolution of faith and allegiance was delivered by Paulose Corepiscopa Parathuvayalil; Jacobite Syrian Christian Church - 1876 to 2004 - a Review by Joseph Mor Gregorios Metropolitan, submission of letter of tribute by Yuhanon Mor Milithiose Metropolitan and key note address by Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I. Thampu George Thuakalan was conferred the 'Baretho Maheero' title for his sincere service to the Malankara Church. (The New Indian Express & The Hindu)

The historic Apostolic Visit of the Patriarch to Malankara ends; His Holiness left for New Delhi

KOCHI, SEP. 28: After completing the historic apostolic visit to Malankara the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, left for New Delhi on Tuesday morning from the Nedumbassery International Airport. Metropolitans, Corepiscopos, Rambans, Priests and a large number of faithful were present in the Airport to bid farewell to their beloved spiritual father. His Holiness the Patriarch and the delegation once again thanked the faithful in India for the love and affection they are showering to­wards the Holy See.

His Beatitude the Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, Metropolitans Mor Yulios Kurikose, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Dioscorus Kurikose, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese and Mor Theophilos Kurikose accompanied the Patriarch to the National Capital. In New Delhi Metropolitan of the Diocese Thomas Mor Thimotheos and the diocesan members will receive the Patriarch.

The 3rd Apostolic visit of Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iywas to Malankara which lasted for 8-days was infact an historic one. The people thronged in everyplace to have a glimpse of their supreme spiritual leader. His Holiness conquered the heart of millions and strengthened the centuries old ties the Church in Malankara has with the Holy See of St. Peter. This visit of the Patriarch was one of the most memorable events in the history of the Malankara Church.

H.H. the Patriarch given a rousing welcome in New Delhi

NEW DELHI, SEP. 28: The Patriarch of Antioch & all the East who reached New Delhi Airport by noon was welcomed by the diocesan Metropolitan Mor Thimotheos Thomas and other prominent persons of the diocese. In the evening a grand public reception was given to the Patriarch and the delegates in the Indoor stadium at Thalkothara Gardens, New Delhi. His Holiness the Patriarch and His Beatitude the Catholicos was welcomed to the venue by thousands of Syrian Christian faithful of outside Kerala diocese. A colorful and traditional Kerala proces­sion started from Mother Teresa Crescent (Near North Avenue) at around 5.30pm with more than 5,000 people from different parishes in Delhi & adjoining areas participating in it. School children's Bands, Navy Bands, Chenda Melam, Band Melam, Muthu Koda, Kodi, etc. were the special attraction of this unique Kerala-style procession.

When the rally reached Thalkothara Gardens, the prayers in Syriac welcoming His Holiness was sung by the Choir of the St. Peter's Cathedral, New Delhi.

In his opening felicitation address the Union Minister H.E. P.M. Sayed noted that each visit of the spiritual leader would strengthen the ties with his people in India. He also praised the assistance of different Christian Churches in India's development endeavors.

"Peace is the essence of all religion. Those who propagate violence and hatred among people are destroying the religion and the society", the minister pointed out. He also wished that the visit of the Patriarch would strengthen the peace and spirit of co-existence in the society.

The meeting was attended by Union Minister Oscar Fernadas, the Apostolic Nuncio Pedro Loppus Quintana, Syrian Ambassador H.E. Shaad Salem, Armenian Ambassador H.E. Armanbal Burton, Lebnon Ambassador Waleeda Naser, Metropolitans Mor Themotheos Thomas, Mor Julius Kuriakose, Mor Gregorios Joseph, Mor Dioscorus Kuriskose, Mor Athanasius Geevarghese, Mor Theophilos Kuriakose, Mor Silvanos Pathros (Homs), Mor Milithios Malki (Australia) and the Church ex-secretary Rajan Scaria.

On 29th morning His Holiness will conduct the Mooron Koodoso of the St. Peter's Cathedral, New Delhi and celebrate the Holy Qurbono in the Cathedral.

H.H. the Patriarch consecrated the St. Peters' Cathedral at New Delhi

Met the Indian President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and UPA Chairperson; Left for Damascus via Sharjah on Oct. 1st

NEW DELHI, SEP. 29, 30: On 29th September His Holiness led the Mooron koodasso (consecration) of the St. Peter's Patriarchal Cathedral at New Delhi and of­fered the Holy Qurbono. His Beatitude the Catholicos, the diocesan Metropolitan Mor Thimotheos Thomas and other Metropolitans assisted His Holiness. In the evening the Patriarch called on the Vice President of India Shri. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the UPA Chairperson Shrimati Sonia Gandhi.

The next day morning His Holiness paid homage to the father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi by placing a wreath at Raj Ghat. Later he called on the President of India Shri. A P J Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister Shri. Manmohan Singh and leader of Opposition Shri. L K Advani and expressed thanks for the patronage the Syrian Church is receiving in this great nation. His Beatitude Catholicos Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I, Metropolitan Mor Thimotheos Thomas and others were in the delegation.

After the 3-day visit to New Delhi, His Holiness left for Damascus via Sharjah by early morning flight on 1st October, thus completing the historic 3rd Apostolic Visit of the Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to Malankara.

Source: Suryoyo Online News; © Suryoyo Online

Address of H. H. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas at The Second Mulanthuruthy Synod

LL Patriarch Zakka I Iwas

September 27, 2004

Your Beatitude Mor Baselius Thomas I, Your Eminences, the Metroplitans, Reverend Clergy and all Members of the Association.

What a great day is today!

Today, we are making history. In fact, we are re-creating history here. We are particularly happy and excited that we are part of this historic event.

One hundred and twenty-eight years ago, in 1876, our predecessor Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV touched this holy ground and made history. He convened a synod and presided over the same. That historic synod took place in this very place. We want to congratulate the Catholicos and the Holy Synod here for choosing this venue for this meeting. It was very well thought of. It was Chathuruthil Mor Gregorios, the venerable saint of India who, then, was the interpreter and secretary of Patriarch Peter IVth, organized the Mulanthuruthy Synod. It is a great coincidence that we have Mor Gregorios Joseph who comes from the same family of Chathuruthil, who has organized this meeting here as the Secretary of the Holy Synod here.

The 1876 Synod is popularly known as the Mulanthuruthy Synod. This Synod is deemed to be one of the most significant events in the Church history. It was this Synod that paved the way for democracy in this Church. It brought order and shape to the Church, especially in administrative matters. The Church was divided into dioceses for administrative convenience. It ensured a smoother functioning of the Church on all counts. People were brought to the center stage of Church administration. This was an attempt to avoid autocracy on the part of Church hierarchy. It is amazing to note that all this was initiated at a time when democracy was still a distant dream to the people of India. What a model the Church could offer even to the nation! We are so glad that this was led by one of our predecessors.

One hundred and twenty-eight years later, today, God has blessed us to step into the shoes of our predecessor, to re-create history, to celebrate with all of you here, the great historic event of our Church. This great event here tells the whole world in clear terms that the Syrian Orthodox Church is still able to continue the spirit of democracy and thus remain within the great tradition of the Mulanthuruthy Synod.

The first ever representatives' meeting held in Mulanthuruthy popularly known as Mulanthuruthy Synod thought it was necessary that there should be an organization for the Syrian Church called 'The Syrian Christian Association.' This was meant to prevent mismanagement and the autocratic rule of a single Metropolitan. It was a great act of democracy. It affirmed that the Church was not just an assembly of Metropolitans, but rather the community of faithful people and that the Church hierarchy should be accountable to the people.

As we celebrate the event today, we are happy to observe that our priests and laity play a great role in the decision making process of the Church. We urge you to keep up this tradition and continue to be a model for other Churches.

The 1995 (Indian Supreme Court) judgment has made it clear that the parishes belong to the parishioners and no authority can violate the original objectives for which they were established. Therefore, our Church had to think of a separate Constitution. We managed to draft a new Constitution and by God's grace and mercy, the High Court in Kerala has approved it. This was once again a victory of the Spirit of the Mulanthuruthy Synod, therefore a victory of the right of our lay people over their parishes and property. We wish to congratulate the leadership of our Church in India, especially the wisdom of His Beatitude Mor Baselios Thomas Ist, all our Metropolitans and Clergy and above all, strong faith of our lay people. We want to urge all our faithful to abide by the Constitution on all Church matters. We also like to call upon all of you to uphold the spirit of the Mulanthuruthy Synod and reaffirm it here. We also like to say that today we are very happy to be in this meeting of our Jacobite Syrian Christian Association which has our approval.

The times ahead may not be easy for us; however, we are confident that our Church will come through all these tests and trials under the excellent leadership of His Beatitude and his team of Metropolitans and other leaders. We are proud of you and God shall protect you and our Church. God has protected us from all heresies and helped us defend the true faith. We shall continue to rely on God's mercy and grace.

May we also urge all our faithful to continue to rally around His Beatitude the Catholicos, and the Holy Synod and extend all your support to them. They will guide you in true faith and ancient traditions of our Holy Church.

The Mulanthuruthy Church is a blessed Church. Patriarch Peter and Patriarch Abdullah consecrated Holy Myron at this church and the tombs of three Metropolitan Delegates from Antioch are situated here. This Church is really a holy place. We would like to call it the Zehyon of India.

May God Bless You All.

Source: The Fetschrift in Honor of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas,
Sept 14, 2005, V. Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Moolayil Corepiscopos (editor)


Condolence Message From Pope Francis

Pope Francis


To the Locum Tenens

Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

With deep sorrow I have learned of the passing of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, father and chief pastor of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, and I hasten to express to you, to the Bishops, clergy and lay faithful, my personal condolences and the prayerful closeness of all Catholics at this time of deeply-felt loss.

The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding spiritual leaders, courageous and wise in leading people trough very difficult times. Following his election as Patriarch in 1980 His Holiness was an engaged witness of the successive violent conflicts that have brought untold death and suffering to the Middle East, especially to Iraq and most recently Syria.

His Holiness was a man of dialogue and peace with regard to the followers of all religious traditions. In particular I give heartfelt thanks to God for his constant work to improve relations among Christians and, from the time he attended the Second Vatican Council as an observer, for his extraordinary contribution to strengthening communion between Syrian Orthodox Christians and the Catholic faithful. May the Almighty receive him into his kingdom and grant him eternal rest, and may the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church live on as a challenge and a stimulus to all.


Condolences From His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, send a letter of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church, expressing his sorrow on the passing of His Holiness Mor Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. His Holiness offered the deepest sympathies on behalf of the Armenian Apostolic Church, her faithful, the Supreme Spiritual Council, and the clergy; to the clergy and to all Syrian Orthodox Christians in Syria and the dispersion.

His Holiness said in a letter of condolence . "The Syrian Orthodox Church has lost a "good shepherd," who fulfilled the mission of the Holy Church of Christ with deep and loving devotion over the last thirty four years. With great zeal and wisdom, His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I of blessed memory shepherded the Syrian Orthodox Church especially during the current challenging period of political upheaval in the Middle East.

Thanks to the late Patriarch's efforts, monastic life experienced renewal and a blossoming, and the Syrian Church made significant contributions to the inter-church and inter-religious dialogues, as well as to the promotion of solidarity and peace in the world.

The fraternal and warm relations between our Churches were manifested during the various official visits and encounters, which we witnessed during the pontificates of our predecessors of blessed memory as well as in our own time through our personal meetings."

The Catholicos of All Armenians offered his prayer that God receive the soul of the blessed Patriarch in His Heavenly Kingdom; and that the Holy Spirit grant consolation to the servants and faithful flock of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Blessed be the memory of the righteous.

Source: http://www.armenianchurch.org

Condolence Message From Baselios Cardinal Cleemis - Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church

Heartfelt Condolences on the sad demise of His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch

Thiruvananthapuram: We place on record our heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Igatius Zakka I of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and convey our prayers The deep rooted relationship and the paternal affection His Holiness the Patriarch had for the Malankara Christian Community were really great.

The contributions made by His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I along with Blessed Pope John Paul II of happy memory in pursuit of unity between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have been immensely valuable. I have been fortunate to visit His Holiness the Patriarch recently at his residence in Lebanon. I remember with gratitude the particular affection His Holiness showed to the Eastern Churches and to the Malankara Catholic Church and especially towards me personally.

I convey my condolences and prayers to the entire bereaved Orthodox Syrian Church especially his sheep in Malankara. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council and the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church join this bereavement and pray for the departed soul. On behalf of the Catholic Church in India, I convey the condolences and prayers to all the Faithful of the Orthodox Syrian Church.

+ Baselios Cardinal Cleemis

Major Archbishop-Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India &Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council

A Statement from His Holiness Pope Tawadros II.
Patriarch of The Coptic Orthodox Church and the See of St. Mark

For myself and on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the congregation in Egypt and abroad, we would like to extend our cordial condolences to their reverend Graces the Archbishops and the blessed congregation of the Syrian Orthodox Church for the reposal of His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of the sister Syrian Orthodox Church.

We are expressing our consolations, however we are joyfully praying so that his virtuous soul may rest in peace in the bosom of all the saints. He will always be remembered for his ultimate care, efforts and love to render the church unified.

May God help us select a good successor to keep up his track.''

Archbishop of Canterbury Expresses Sadness at Death of Supreme Head of Syrian Orthodox Church

Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has expressed great sadness at the passing away of His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (1933-2019), Patriarch of Antioch and All the East and the supreme head of the Syrian Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Justin said: "We thank God for the extraordinary life and witness of His Holiness and pray for the Syrian Orthodox Church at this time of mourning and uncertainty. His Holiness will be sorely missed. We also continue to remember His Eminence Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim of Alleppo, who has been missing along with His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos since April 2013 and seek the mercy of Christ for his safe release.

"Christians across the Middle East are coping under immense suffering and trials. Their steadfastness is one of deep inner conviction, commitment and faith. They are bearing the cross on a daily basis without fear and announcing the Good News in word and deed. We thank God for this faithful witness, which is a blessing to the whole world, a message that Christ in our midst will help overcome the trials, distress and hardship that face us."

His Holiness was known for his enduring ministry in very difficult and trying circumstances, and made important contributions to ecumenical dialogue. He was a member of different Eastern and Western Academies and the author of a number of books on Christian education, theology, history, and culture in the Syriac, Arabic and English languages.

Source: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/

Condolence Message From Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC General Secretary

WCC General Secretary

by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC General Secretary

Your Eminences and Graces, Respected members of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, faithful of the Syrian Orthodox Church worldwide,

It is with deep sorrow and compassion for the Syrian Orthodox Church that the World Council of Churches (WCC) has received the news of the passing away to eternal life of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas I, supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East since 1980, a much respected church leader and pastor in the Middle East, and an eminent figure of the ecumenical movement both in Middle East and worldwide.

Patriarch Zakka served the ecumenical movement for many decades. He was elected as one of the WCC Presidents from Harare (1998) to Porto Alegre (2006) in recognition of his longstanding ecumenical commitment. As Metropolitan of his Church, he had participated in many meetings and committees of the WCC, including its central committee. He had also represented his church as an observer to the Vatican II. His contribution to the dialogue of his church with Rome resulted in important Christological agreements, helping to overcome theological confusions and misunderstandings which had divided Christians for centuries.

He was also deeply involved in the ecumenical movement in the Middle East, being among the founders and subsequently a supporter and leader of the Middle East Council of Churches. He had developed excellent relationships and channels of collaborations with the heads of the other Oriental Orthodox Churches in the Middle East, and with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch.

His Holiness was a significant scholar and author of many works on Syriac language, theology and liturgy, and he cared deeply for his people and for the contribution the Syriac Christian tradition could make to the wider world. His care for the education of his clergy led to his establishment of the major Mor Ephrem Seminary in Ma'arat Sayyidnaya near Damascus. It is particularly sad that during the last decade of his life he witnessed the turmoil and suffering of his people, both in Iraq, where he had been Metropolitan for almost 20 years, and in Syria, where he resided as Patriarch. His wisdom in the context of these extremely difficult situations will be sorely missed.

Many in the leadership of the World Council of Churches had the privilege of working closely with Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas throughout the many years of his association and involvement in the ecumenical movement. Many recall his caring love for all, his genuine hospitality and his kind, encouraging words in all circumstances. We are indebted to him for the contributions he has made over the years and the significant leadership he has demonstrated in the course of his long years of service.
We thank God for the life and witness of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas; and, we offer our heartfelt condolences to his church and his beloved spiritual sons and daughters.

May his memory remain eternal in our Lord’s mind and in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC General Secretary

HB Baselios Thomas I, Catholicos of India Reflects on The Legacy of HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas
Malayala Manorama Article -HB on LL HH

Source: Malayala Manorama

HG Issac Mor Osthatheos, Metropolitan of Mylapore and Delhi Dioceses Reflects on The Legacy of The Departed Patriarch

Source: Deepika, Mar 22, 2014

HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas - Architect of New Generation by Dr. Babu Paul
Article on HH Ignatius Zakka 1 Iwas by Dr. Babu Paul
Source: Mangalam, Mar 22, 2014


This is a collection of photographs to recall the funeral services of LL HH Zakka I Iwas, the Patriarch of Antioch.

Please click here to take you to the photo album.

Here is what you will find in our collection:





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