Ancient Church of the East picks new patriarch, puts brakes on reunification
The regent and Metropolitan of Australia and New Zealand Mar Yakoob III Danil was chosen. he served in Syria. He succeeds Mar Addai II Gewargis, who passed away in February. Informed sources say that the election represents a setback in talks on possible reunification with the Assyrian Church of the East.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Ancient Church of the East has a new patriarch, elected during a quick two-day synod held a few days ago in Chicago, United States.
The meeting between the leaders of this Eastern Church is expected to put the brakes to the laborious and hard work of reunification with the Assyrian Church of the East; the choice of the new patriarch may not be a fatal blow, but it is certainly a hard one.
The possibility of bringing the two Churches back together had led to some moderate optimism after talks between the two Churches began in the US city on 9 May.
Mar Yakoob III Danil is the new patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East, succeeding the late Mar Addai II Gewargis who died in February. Since then, he acted as regent during the period of vacancy. Hitherto he was Metropolitan of Australia and New Zealand, seat in Sydney, where he arrived in 2005 after serving as bishop in Syria.
Some local Church sources say that the enthronement ceremony will take place in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, seat of the patriarchal see on 19 August.
According to the Baghdadhope website, the synod was quick compared to the usual duration of such assemblies. It was held in the same city where on 9 May the leaders of the Ancient Church of the East and those of the Assyrian Church of the East met “to explore the possibility of reunification".
After decades of tensions, the two broke apart with the schism of 1968, when "divergences of different nature ended with the creation of the Ancient Church of the East", which just picked its third patriarch.
As for talks on reunification, although there are no official statements from either Church, well-informed sources, quoted on various websites and social media, suggest that the attempt at bringing the two Churches together are bound to fail.
Nevertheless, Church experts urge caution, to wait until an official confirmation or denial is issued. However, the bishop of Chicago and secretary of the synod of the Ancient Church of the East, Mar Gewargis Younan, spoke off the record, explaining the reasons for the divisions.
For the prelate, the two Churches are still far apart on the name of the reunified Church, on a shared liturgical calendar, and on the patriarch’s general procurator. No discussion has been held on this last issue, the most important and hardest to tackle.
The relationship with other churches is another major issue, including with the Roman Catholic Church whose authority neither recognises.
Despite the impasse in the talks, which have been completely unproductive, Mar Gewargis Younan still believes that work towards reunification will continue.