Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chaldean Patriarch seeks communion with Assyrian Church

(CWN) - The leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church has written to his counterpart in the Assyrian Church of the East, proposing that they bring their churches into full communion.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako sent a birthday greeting to the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, and suggested that the two Eastern churches should “begin dialogue for unity, which is the desire of Jesus.” Full union with the Chaldean Church would also bring the Assyrian Church into union with the Holy See, he noted.

“The beginning of this dialogue is urgent today, in the face of great challenges that threaten our survival,” Patriarch Sako wrote, alluding to the uncertain prospects facing the Christian minority in Iraq. “Without unity, there is no future for us,” he said.

The Assyrian Church broke away from Rome in the 5th century, with the Assyrian Church showing sympathy for the Nestorian teachings that were condemned by the Council of Ephesus. However, leaders of the Assyrian Church have distanced themselves from the Nestorian doctrine, and in 1994 a Common Christological Declaration, signed by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Mark Dinkha IV, seemed to resolve doctrinal differences.

The Chaldean Church, which was restored to unity with the Holy See in 1552, shares historical roots with the Assyrian Church, and the faithful of each body share the sacraments. But there is no formal agreement between the two churches.

“If we have recognized confessing the same faith, at this point I am wondering what the obstacles to walk together toward the recognition of full unity among us are,” Patriarch Sako remarked to the Fides news service. The Catholic prelate said that he would “await with trepidation” a reply from the Assyrian prelate.


  1. The Assyrian Church broke away from Rome? How can that be when they were never under the Roman Patriarchate. The broke communion with the Orthodox and Catholic churches, both East and West.

    1. It is a distinctly ultramontane mentality that places subsistence of the Church in the hands of the Bishop of Rome. The Church and Peter are not synonymous. 1 Corinthians 12 comes to mind.

    2. They may not be under the Bishop of Rome.. but HISTORY tells us that there exists only ONE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. The Assyrian Church of the East has separated itself from the Churches in the Roman empire because they existed within the Persian Empire which is a political adversary of the Romans. Now that no among the said empires exist, no reason for these Churches to separate from one another

  2. This article of mine might be of interest in this context:


    There was a tripartite "dialogue process" between the Assyrians and Rome from the late 1980s until about 2002. It was intended to deal with (1) Christology, on which fill agreement was reached in 1994, (2) the sacraments, on which full agreement was reached in 2000 or 2001, and (3) the papacy. In 2002 or 2003 the Assyrians requested that this last part of the dialogue be deferred, and it has not yet been resumed. This deferral may reflect the knotty nature of the subject, but it also reflects, as I have been informed, the strong currents of "Assyrian nationalism" within the Assyrian laity, as contrasted with political quietism of the Chaldeans. It may also reflect the fact that when an Assyrian bishop and a good part of his flock entered into union with Rome (via the Chaldeans) in 2004, the Assyrians reduced that bishop (and the clergy that went with him) to "lay status," and requested that Rome receive them as laymen -- but Rome, after much hesitation, received the bishop as a bishop and his clergy as priests.