About Us

Who are we?

We are the Syriac Catholic Chalcedonian church associated, and in total communion with the oriental branch of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the official definition of our church. We have preserved our traditional and distinguished rites and liturgy, and a small number of our church members speak the Syriac language in small groups in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. The seat of our church is in Antioch Turkey. However no Syriac Patriarch has resided there to this day. Since the establishment of this church all its patriarchs have moved within cities in Lebanon or Syria. Today the seat is located in Beirut Lebanon. All the patriarchs carry the name Ignatius as the first name.

History of Syriac Catholic Church

In the third century AD missionaries started confirming the Catholic faith among the people. Many embraced the faith around that period and the Roman Catholic Church allowed the eastern Catholics to maintain their rite and liturgy. What was important was fidelity to the Faith and the tenets of the church. Since then we became known as the Syriac Catholic Church.

Around the seventh century and with the growing spread of Islam, Christianity was under siege and subjected to many pressures and persecutions. That steered the fathers of the oriental church to think of a solution for this corrosive crisis that the church was facing. At that time force for self defense was the only viable solution to stop the Islamic invasion that forced its belief with the power of the sword.

Then the churches of orient pleaded to Rome to request military support to defend and protect the churches in the east from Islamic persecutions. Unfortunately that plea was ignored due to the vast geographic distances and weak lines of communication. Due to that reason the Middle Eastern churches turned towards nearer churches in Russia and Greece. The Greek and Russian prelates agreed to send help on the condition that the Eastern churches would accept the Orthodox faith and its tenets. Consequently the eastern bishops including the Syriac Catholics declared their Orthodox beliefs around the ninth century AD. After that the eastern churches were kept waiting for the promised help from Orthodox Russia and Greece but none arrived.

Faced with this dilemma The eastern Church bishops including the Syriac Catholics reminded the orthodox church of the union and assimilation that has taken place with them, To that the Greek and Russian churches refused that claim, and did not acknowledge that change, and in fact dubbed the Eastern rite churches as the Monophysites (One nature). This title remained with the Syriac Orthodox church till recent times.

Around the fifteenth century Carmelite, Capuchin, and Jesuit missionaries started working with the Syriac Orthodox people to bring them to the Catholic Faith with the support of the French Counsel in Aleppo. This effort resulted in many Orthodox reuniting with Rome in communion with the Catholic Church.

In 1662 the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Yusuf the second Qamshih passed away. The catholic congregation selected Andrawes Achijan an Armenian from Mardin (Turkey) in 1850.

During World War I the Syriac Catholics became victims of terrible massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman’s military machine and the Kurdish militias in Tor Abdeen, and southern Turkey. It was estimated that 75,000 Syriac Catholics perished and were martyred with that pogrom. In 1920 the seat of the Patriarch was moved again during the era of the great Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani this time to Beirut where a large number of the Syriacs gathered to flee the horrors of the Turkish massacres.

Our Church today

The Syriac Catholic church pledges its allegiance to the Holy See in Rome together with the Maronite, The Chaldean, Roum, Coptic, Latin, and Armenian Catholic churches.

Our current newly elected Patriarch is Ignatius Yusuf III Younan. The members of our church are scattered around the world in the Middle East, Europe, The Americas, and in Australia. The village of Qara Qosh in northern Iraq and to the west of Mosul is considered as the heart and soul of the congregation where 7,500 families live and a population of over 40,000 Syriac Catholics.

The estimated population of the Syriac Catholics in the world is 250,000. Our church is a member of the World Council of Churches, and Middle East Council of Churches.

Syriac Catholic Dioceses

Baghdad Diocese is headed by Bishop Athanasius Metti Shaba Matoka. Mosul Diocese is headed by Bishop Bsilius Gergis Qas Mousa. Diocese of the Americas is vacant now. Diocese of Homs Aleppo and Nabak is headed by Bishop Theophilus George Kassab. Diocese of Aleppo is headed by Bishop Dionysius Antoine Shahda. Bishop of Nesibeen and Haseke is headed by Bishop Yacoub Ephram Hindo. Diocese of Damascus is headed by Bishop Gregorios Elias Tubbi. In Cairo the seat is chaired by Bishop Eclimes Joseph Hannosh. Diocese of Beirut is headed by Bishop Antoine Beiloni. Diocese of Venezuela is headed by Bishop Ioness Louis Awad. We also have a Patriarchal envoy in the Vatican Rome represented by Bishop Michael Aljumeil.