Monday, 19 January 2015

Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako and Mar Sarhad Jammo - a traditional eastern opinion

It is a great pain when I hear of the recent events that have been unfolding within the Chaldean clergy. Especially in these times where Islamic faithful are taking and burning our Churches.

The events of the Chaldean Patriarch ordering Priests in Western USA to return back to Iraq and the subsequent appeal of the Eparch (Mar Jammo) to Rome is an event that is simply scandalous to the Chaldean faithful.

Nevertheless I seek to put forth my opinions on these events.

It is no secret among Chaldean circles that Mar Sako and his allies aren't big fans of Mar Jammo. I'm not sure of the reason exactly, but I can only speculate with facts.

Mar Jammo is a Bishop who is well versed, trained and liturgically oriented. He has several studies on his website about the Chaldean liturgy and it is clear that he values the liturgical traditions of the Great Church of the East - the Chaldean Church.

Mar Jammo was the first and only Bishop in the Chaldean Synod to implement the restorations putforth by the former patriarchs. Mar Bidawid and Mar Delly. These restorations of the Chaldean Liturgy included:

  • Saying the Eucharistic prayer out loud
  • Facing east
  • Priest holding a cross
  • Removal of the Filioque from the creed
  • Addition of a Curtain-Veil in the sanctuary
No other Bishop in the synod implemented these changes. On the other hand, it is clear that Mar Raphael Louis Sako is not a liturgically oriented individual. He has on the hand (at least on the outside) an opposite view of the Chaldean Liturgy.

  • He had not implemented the changes in his own diocese and has devised a 'new new' Chaldean Liturgy which is more latinised that the old
  • He has refused to wear his Shash. An age old traditional head-wear that nearly all his predecessors wore.
  • He often wears protestant clerical suits clearly not fit for a man of his position.

Going back to Mar Jammo. His diocese has been flourishing. 10 seminarians, dozens of nuns, many children, converts from different ethnic backgrounds the list goes on. His diocese is growing not purely due to immigration to the USA. But because it is growing from within.

As for the events themselves. I believe it is incorrect for the Patriarch to have called back the Priests of Mar Jammo's diocese. To me, it seems too late and too much of a coincidence that he has picked a battle with Mar Jammo. These Priests left in the early 90s - there have been two Patriarchs before him who, if they felt necessary, would've called back the Priests.

Nevertheless, he is the Patriarch and obedience is due to the Patriarch. 

Now, I am also in principle against the appeal to Rome by Mar Jammo. In an ideal situation Rome will not interfere with the governance of Eastern Churches.

Basically my conclusions are:
  • The Patriarch calling Priests back to Iraq from the USA was probably the wrong decision. Nevertheless he is the Patriarch. I also feel the Patriarch had acted in a very individualistic way, something contrary to Eastern ecclesiology (although I have no proof of this). 
  • The appeal by Mar Jammo and the overturn by Pope Francis is also wrong. This is a clear indication of Roman interference. Although, the correct decision was probably made. The way it was made is incorrect.
Finally, I ask you to pray for unity in these difficult times.

Through the prayers of Mor Ephrem and the Birth-Giver of God Maryam. God Bless you all.

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