Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Holy Synod of Antioch Elects 12 New Auxiliary Bishops

Arabic original here. I had to guess at the spellings of a lot of these names. Also, the original only contained biographies for six of the bishops.


The Holy Synod of Antioch met in its regular session on Tuesday, June 21, in the patriarchal residence at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand. During its first sessions, six auxiliary bishops were elected: Archimandrite Kosta Kayal, Archimandrite Isaac Barakat, and Archimandrite Nicholas Baalbeki as patriarchal assistant bishops, and Archimandrite Demitri Sharbak, Archimandrite Iliya Tomeh, and Archimandrite Athanasius Fahd as auxiliiary bishops to the Metropolitan of Akkar in Safayta, al-Hisn, and Tartus, respectively.

Likewise, in the second session in the extraordinary meeting six other bishops were elected:

Three of them as auxiliary bishops in Europe:
Archimandrite Yuhanna (Haykal)
Archimandrite Ephrem (Ma'louli)
Archimandrite Ignatius (al-Hawshi)

An auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Mexico:
Archimandrite Ignatius (Samaan)

Two auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Brazil:
Archimandrite Romanos (Dawoud)
Archimandrite Morqos (Khoury)

We wish their graces, the bishops elect, blessed service and fruitful pastorship in their new service in the Lord's field. We call out to them with one voice: Axios.... mustahiq!
Here follows a bit about the life of the bishops:

Bishop-elect Kosta Kayal
He studied theology and earned doctoral degree in the field of liturgical studies at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He serves in the Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon as pastor of the Church of St. George the Victorious in Brumana and is professor of liturgics at the Saint John of Damascus Theological Institute in the Faculty of Theology of Balamand University.

Bishop-elect Isaac Barakat
He studied theology and recieved a doctoral degree in homiletics from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He serves in the Church of the Holy Cross in Damascus. He held the position of abbot of the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand and professor at the Saint John of Damascus Theological Institute in the Faculty of Theology of Balamand University from 2005 to 2010.

Bishop-elect Nicholas Baalbeki
He completed his studies in human medicine and then studied theology at the Saint John of Damascus Institute in the Faculty of Theology of Balamand University. He served as a priest in the Archdiocese of Damascus, and then served as the general director of the Patriarchal Hospital of al-Hisn.

Bishop-elect Demitri Sharbak
He holds a degree in civil engineering from Tishreen University in Lattakia. He studied theology at the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute and then earned a doctoral degree in the field of ecumenical studies from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He served for two years in the Archdiocese of Aleppo, then Metropolitan of Akkar Basil Mansour appointed him as his representative in Safayta in 2008. He teaches the subject of ecumenics at the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute in the Faculty of Theology of Balamand University.

Bishop-elect Iliya Tomeh
He holds a degree in civil engineering from Tishreen University in Lattakia. He studied theology at the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute and then earned a master's degree in Islamic Studies from the Pontifical Institute PISAI in Rome and a diploma in Religious Studies from the Jesuit Gregoriana University in Rome. He earned a doctorate in Religious and Islamic Studies from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He served for two years in the Archdiocese of Aleppo and then Metropolitan of Akkar Basil Mansour appointed him representative in the bishopric of al-Hisn in 2008.

Bishop-elect Athanasius Fahd
He holds a degree in agricultural engineering from Tishreen University in Lattakia. He studied theology and earned a master's degree from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece. He served in the bishopric of al-Hisn then in the Archdiocese of Western and Central Europe. Metropolitan of Akkar Basil Mansour then appointed him as his representative in Tartus in 2011.

6 comments:

Ps-Iosifson said...

Sounds like Antioch has finally settled on a standard understanding of auxiliary bishops since the NA kerfuffle. I find it interesting that all auxiliaries are no longer implicitly understood to be patriarchal auxiliaries assigned to various Metropolises are now direct auxiliaries to other Metropolitans.

I still think silly the Greek understanding that every diocese is a Metropolis headed by a Metropolitan and that a mere bishop is only ever an auxiliary bishop. The Slavic practice makes more sense, and is more historically accurate (rather than just historically conditioned as in the Greek - and Arab - practice.)

Jon Marc said...

Axios!!!

And yet the Slavs have auxiliary bishops (and even auxiliary archbishops and auxiliary metropolitans) too :-).

Thanks again for posting this!

Ps-Iosifson said...

Yes, well, 'archbishop' is only ever a rank of honor - the person's still only a bishop. I think auxiliary Metropolitans are like Met. Hilarion who is running a major department or institution under the Patriarch and for the national church as a whole.

i don't disagree that there are oddities in the Slavic practice, too.

Carl said...

Auxiliary bishops make no sense except when a ruling bishop is getting incapable to physically and mentally lead his diocese AND there is no provision for gracefully retiring such persons. In reality, parish priests are deputy bishops who could just as easily be called auxiliaries to the ruling bishop. The Greek/Antiochian system is nothing more than smoke and mirrors that mean to impress, Potemkin village style, designed to hide unfortunate realities.

Carl Kraeff

Ps-Iosifson said...

I've never really understood the problem with auxiliary bishops. I think it stems from a certain reading of what the episcopacy is supposed to be, officially and really, and likely has something to do with the modern trend in understanding the local church as the Church in full.

However, unlike something like idiorrythmia that had an extended while still contained period of normal use in Orthodoxy, the presence of auxiliary bishops seems to be universal and of extreme long-standing. I think our ecclesiology should take this reality into account, rather than our reality to take account of our theory.

It all really comes down to Orthodoxy's as yet undefined understanding of primacy. How is a Metropolitan of a region 'first' over diocesan bishops in his region? How much standardization should there be in a region, or should diocesan bishops be allowed to do as they will? How is a diocesan bishop first over his presbyters and auxiliaries? How is a Patriarch or Synod 'first' over a given Metropolitan or diocesan bishop? Having few Metropolitans on a small Synod, but many auxiliaries, allows for the consolidation of power in few hands while still giving assistance to aged bishops who cannot or will not travel as their flocks needs. (the cost of a Metropolitan is also an undercurrent since they've gotten accustomed to a certain manner of life, and that may take more and more far flung small parishes to fund in full - at least in the diaspora.) I wonder, too, if part of this may be about staking any future Chambesy regional assemblies.

Carl said...

I would think that the problem is with the circular reasoning that is employed here: We are where we are because the Holy Spirit guided us. I do think that deference should be given to precedent but such deference should in no way over ride otherwise sound ecclesiastical and canonical principles. If we proceed on the basis I outlined above, it would be logical to view historical deviations with understanding and discernment rather than in a non-critical manner.

Nonetheless, Ps-Iosifson put his/her finger on the problem: "as yet undefined understanding of primacy," that is, of the power relationships amongst bishops. If one's pouint of view is top-down, one could be sympathetic to the "plight" of Metropolitans, Archbishops and Patriarchs in the "herding cats" aspects of leading ruling bishops. If you look at this from bottom up,you could end up like me and emphasize the role of the parish priest as a deputy bishop, and the role of the deans as quasi auxiliary bishops. In other words, the role of the province or local church is not nearly as important as the local parish and/or the diocese. This is so particularly in a democratic and laic society. Unfortunately, our Church has existed so long as a state church that many folks think that the top-down approach necessitated in a state church context should be normative.