NCCI mourns the loss of Patriarch Mor Ignatius ZakkaIwas

NCCI mourns the loss of Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas

Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East since 1980, a much respected church leader and pastor in the Middle East, and an eminent figure of the ecumenical movement both in Middle East and worldwide, passed away March 21, 2014 in Germany aged 81 after a long battle with illness.

Patriarch Zakka served the ecumenical movement for many decades. He was elected as one of the WCC Presidents from Harare (1998) to Porto Alegre (2006). As Metropolitan of his Church he had participated in many meetings and committees of the WCC, including its central committee. He had also represented his church as an observer to the Vatican II. According to WCC “His contribution to the dialogue of his church with Rome resulted in important Christological agreements, helping to overcome theological confusions and misunderstandings which had divided Christians for centuries.”

“He was also deeply involved in the ecumenical movement in the Middle East, being among the founders and subsequently a supporter and leader of the Middle East Council of Churches.”

According to the biography of the Holy father prepared by John Philip Kottapparambil, India and found on the website of the Syrian Orthodox Church, “The apostolic visits of His Holiness to India thrice, in 1982, 2002 and 2004, and to the various Archdioceses in the Middle East, Americas and Europe have been most successful. It was during the 2004 apostolic visit, the Holy father consecrated the new headquarters of the Church in India in co-operation with His Beatitude the Catholicos and the Metropolitans.”

 “On July 26th 2002, His Holiness installed Mor Dionysius Thomas, the president of the Episcopal Synod of Indian Church, as the Catholicos of India with the title Baselios Thomas I. This was a great event in the history of the Church in India. The new Catholicos was consecrated as the immediate successor to the late Mor Baselios Paulose II who led the enthronement ceremony of His Holiness in 1980. Now the Holy Synod of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church consists of 41 prelates besides the Patriarch and the Catholicos, of which 22 were ordained by our Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas.”

The National Council of  Churches in India is saddened by this great loss. With thanks to God for the wonderful leadership the world benefitted from, we pray that the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church continues to inspire us.

- NCCI Communications