Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, has died
Rome (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East died yesterday at a clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (USA).
Born in Iraq September 15, 1935, Mar Dinkha was ordained priest in Urmia, Iran in 1957 and was consecrated bishop in 1962.
October 17, 1976 he became the 111th patriarch of his Church. His election - the first non-hereditary succession after seven centuries - put an end to divisions and violence. His predecessor, Patriarch Eshai Shimun had been murdered in that same year.
Patriarch Dinkha was responsible for rebuilding the Assyrian Church of the East, which has pacified and modernized translating parts of the liturgy into modern Assyrian. Since his election he moved the seat of the Patriarchate from Iraqi Kurdistan to Morton Grove, a suburb of Chicago, since most of its approximately 500 thousand faithful are concentrated in diaspora communities scattered among America, Europe and Oceania, with only a tiny minority still living in the Middle East.
Faced with the dramatic worsening of the situation, the Patriarch had sided in favor of the creation of a "Christian" region in the Nineveh Plain, in Iraq.
Overcoming old divisions and ecumenism were one of the characteristics of Mar Dinkha’s mission. In the long years of his ministry he met John Paul II with whom, on 11 November 1994, he signed a Joint Declaration on Christology, which recognized that the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church confess the same faith in Christ and that the Christological controversies of the past were largely due to misunderstandings.
The patriarch also met Benedict XVI and Francis (pictured). The latter, receiving him on October 2, 2014, said that "our meeting is marked by suffering that we share for the wars in the different regions of the Middle East and in particular the violence that is affecting Christians and members of other religious minorities, especially in Iraq and Syria. How many of our brothers and sisters are suffering daily persecution! When we think of their suffering, it is natural to go beyond the distinction of ritual or confession: for theirs is the body of Christ, which, even today, is wounded, attacked, humiliated. There are no religious, political or economic reasons that can justify what is happening to hundreds of thousands of men, women and innocent children. We feel deeply united in intercessory prayer and action of charity towards those members of the body of Christ who are suffering".
Mar Dinkha IV’s funeral will be celebrated on April 8 in St. George’s Church, in Chicago.