The Assyrian Church of the East (ACOE) welcomed a brand new patriarch in Erbil on Sept. 13. Mar Awa Royel is the primary American-born bishop of the traditional church and solely the ninth new patriarch since 1780. In his new position, Royel should now information the church by way of each political and non secular challenges and encourage a neighborhood that’s dealing with mounting strain to go away Iraq, the place the Assyrian inhabitants has dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to beneath 200,000 at the moment.
The patriarchal seat of the church left the Middle East in 1933 for Chicago, largely because of the Simele Massacre of Assyrians in 1933. By 2006, development of a brand new patriarchate started in Erbil. The patriarch formally returned to town in 2015. Despite issues that the seat would as soon as once more depart Erbil, Royel advised Al-Monitor the patriarchy will stay in its present location.
“We know that a majority of the Assyrian people are in the West now, there are maybe 90% to 95% of the Assyrians are living in North America, in Europe, Australia,” he mentioned. “But still, the church has decided to keep the patriarchal seat in Iraq because that is its historical center. It is making the statement that our roots are here, in the cradle of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia.”
The ACOE originated within the first century AD with Saint Thomas, one of many unique twelve disciples. Since 1450, ACOE patriarchs have come from one household, the Mar Shimuns. The loss of life of Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun in 1975 ushered in an election course of. Each new patriarch is now elected amongst bishops in a closed door assembly.
In February of final yr, ACOE Patriarch Mar Gewargis Sliwa introduced his intention to resign attributable to well being causes. A particular session was convened to arrange an election, however it was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.