One year since the Synod – Vienna
From November 9 to 11, Pro Oriente, the Vienna based study center for Eastern Christianity, organized the Third Colloquium Syriacum, focused on the new challenges faced by Middle Eastern Christians, following the Special Synod for the Middle East, held in the Vatican in October 2010.
The three day colloquium brought together bishops from the Syriac tradition (Chaldeans, Syrians and Assyrians – Syriac, a form of Christian Aramaic, being their common linguistic heritage) from the Middle East and from India, a handful of experts, some observers and the team of Pro Oriente. Among the bishop participants from the Middle East were Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Youssif III Younan, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Basile Casmoussa from Mosul, Iraq and Patriarchal Vicar General, Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, Iraq, Maronite Archbishop Paul Mattar of Beirout, Lebanon, Maronite Archbishop Paul el-Sayah of Haifa and Jerusalem, who was recently appointed General Vicar to the Maronite Patriarch, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim Gregorios of Aleppo, Syria and Assyrian Bishop Awa Royel of California. From India, there were Syro-Malabar Metropolitan Joseph Powathil and Malankar Metropolitan Theophilose Kuriakose. Experts included Prof. Sebastian Brock from Oxford, Dr. Anthony O’Mahoney from Heythrop and Father David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel
The themes dealt with during the three day colloquium included: an evaluation of the Synod, Muslim-Christian relations, relations with the communities in the Diaspora and Church-State relations. Father David and Archbishop el-Sayah were invited to speak on relations between Jews and Catholics in the light of the Synod. Father Frans Bouwen from Jerusalem spoke of the developments in ecumenism at the meeting. The harsh conditions in Iraq and Syria (where many Syriac Christians live) were at the heart of the discussions. Patriarch Younan also delivered a public lecture on this theme of the suffering Church in the Middle East.
The very rich Syriac tradition was also much in evidence during these days. The participants participated in a Syrian Orthodox evening liturgy in the Saint Ephrem Church in Vienna and in a morning prayer that demonstrated the increasingly close relations among the different Syriac tradition Churches – the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Church (Catholic), the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Syrian Catholic Church and the Maronite Church (Catholic).
Source : Vicariat hébréophone