H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Aprem II (2C)
The Syriac Orthodox Church has elected a new patriarch to lead one of the world’s oldest Christian sects, Lebanon’s national news agency said Monday.The announcement of the election of Cyril Aphrem Karim, a 48-year-old Syrian, was made by the Syrian Orthodox Church’s Lebanese headquarters in the village of Atshaneh northeast of the capital Beirut.
Karim, who served as bishop in the United States, replaces Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas, who died March 21 in a hospital in Germany at the age of 80.
Karim’s official title will be the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. His church, known as the Syrian Orthodox Church, was founded in the year 452 after a schism with the bulk of the world’s Christians. There are more than 4 million members, living in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq although there are also significant communities in Germany, Sweden and in the United States, where immigrants from the Near East introduced the faith in the late 19th century.
The new patriarch was born in Qamishli, the capital of a northeastern Syrian province, wedged between the borders of Turkey and Iraq. He studied in St. Ephrem’s Theological Seminary in Atchaneh, Lebanon in 1977. In the 1980s, he served the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and pursued higher education at the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. He was ordained as a monk in 1985 in Egypt.
He also studied in Ireland and served in Damascus, where his church is based, before his predecessor, Iwas, appointed him bishop of the east coast of the United States in 1996. Since then, Karim has been living in Teaneck, New Jersey. It was not clear if Karim will be based in Syria or in Lebanon as patriarch.
He is taking the church’s leadership role at the time of great uncertainty for Christians in the Middle East.
Thousands have left Iraq, following the 2003 U.S-led invasion of the country that unleashed unprecedented sectarian violence.
In Syria, recent assaults on predominantly Christian towns by rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad’s rule have fueled fears among the country’s religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists in the revolt.
H.B. Aboon Mor Baselios Thomas I Catholicos
The term ‘Catholicos’ (Katholikos) is derived from the Greek words ‘Kath-Holikos’, meaning ‘General Primate’ or ‘General Vicar’. Even before the primates of the Church adopted this title, it existed in the Roman Empire where its Government representative who was in charge of a large area was called ‘Catholicos’. The Government servant, who was in charge of State treasury, too was known by that name. In due course, the secular administrative heads in Persian Empire also adopted this title.
The Churches (mainly outside the Roman Empire) started to use this term for their Chief Bishops much later, probably by 4th or 5th centuries. Now the primates of the Orthodox Churches in Armenia, Georgia, Iraq and India, use the title ‘Catholicos’.
‘Maphryono’ (Maphrian) is derived from the Syriac word afri, “to make fruitful’, or “one who gives fecundity”. This title came to be used exclusively for the head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the East (Persia) after the prelates who occupied the office of the Catholicate since late 5th century adopted Nestorian Christology and separated from the mother Church. From the mid 13th century onwards, a few occupants of the Maphrianate were referred also as ‘Catholicos’, but the title never came into extensive usage. However in the 20th century when this office of the Maphrianate under the Holy See of Antioch was established in India, the chief of the local church assumed the title ‘Catholicos’. It is this title that is being used in India today, while the title ‘Maphryono’ (Maphrian) is no longer used.
H.G. Mathews Mor Aphrem Metropolitan
H.G. Mathews Mor Aphrem was born to Skaria and Sossamma Chitteth on May 15, 1968 in Arincherumala, Wayanad District. His home parish is St. George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Kaniyambatta, Malabar diocese. He served in Althar as an altar boy as a child. He was very active in Sunday school, both in studies and extra curricular activities. James was a very good singer in the Sunday School stages and consistently won prizes in Sunday school, district, diocese and association levels.
James had his schooling at the Government Higher Secondary School in Panamaram, Wayanad District. His Bachelor of Economics degree was from the University of Calicut. Soon after his graduation James joined Malecruz Dayaro for Theology Education and earned a Diploma in Theology from Malankara Syrian Orthodox Seminary, Vettikkal, Mulanthuruthy. He was appointed as a teacher in Holy liturgy in the seminary after his theology studies. He earned his Master of Economics from Maharajas College, affiliated with Mahatma Gandhi University.
Mor Aphrem joined United Theological College, Bangalore for higher studies in Theology and earned his Bachelor of Divinity in 1998 from the Senate of Serampore College (University). He was awarded his Master of Theology in Systematic Theology in 2001 by the Senate.
In the year 2004, Mor Aphrem went to the United States for his higher studies in Theology and was called to Bishophood during his studies.
Thanono Dr. Yuhanon Mor Philexinos, Metropolitan of Malabar, ordained James Chitteth as sub-deacon on March 14, 1991. He was ordained Apudiyaqono on April 19, 1993 by Geevarghese Mor Gregorios (Perumpally Thirumeni). Dn. James was ordained Kassisso by Thanono Dr. Yuhanon Mor Philexinos in the year 1994 and was appointed as the Vicar of St. Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Soonoro Church, Velamkode, Kozhikode District.
After attaining the master’s degree in Theology from The Senate of Serampore College (University), James Chitteth joined the faculty of Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary in Mulanthuruthy. He taught Systematic Theology, Orthodox Faith, Syrian Liturgical Music and Hebrew. During this period, he served as the Bursar, Malpan & Student’s Warden of the Seminary.
In the year 2006, The Holy Episcopal Synod, with the permission of Supreme Head of the Church, Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, decided to split Ankamali Diocese—the largest Diocese in the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church—into four regions, which was later approved by the diocesan council. Council suggested the name of James Chitteth as the metropolitan of the High Range Region of the Diocese. The election was unanimous. The election was approved by the Managing Committee, Working Committee, Malankara Episcopal Synod and later by Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.
At Karingachira St. George Jacobite Syrian Cathedral, Baselios Thomas I ordained him as Rabban (monk) with the name Nahum on July 2, 2006, along with four others.
On July 3, 2006, Nahum Rabban along with four other monks, was raised to the highest order of bishophood—metropolitan—by Baselios Thomas I, at St. Thomas Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, North Paravoor, where Patriarch of Antioch, Moran Mor Ignatius Peter IV consecrated St. Gregorios Geevarghese, Chathuruthil along with others in 1876. Rabban Nahum was ordained with the name MOR APHREM MATHEWS. He is the only Metropolitan in the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church with the name Aphrem. Mor Aphrem was given charge of High Range Region of Ankamali Diocese, under Baselios Thomas I, who is the Diocesan Metropolitan.