Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (زكى عيواص, , born Sanharib Iwas on 21 April 1933) is the 122th and reigning Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and as such, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church. Also known by his traditional episcopal name, Severios, he was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September 1980 in St. George's Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. He succeeded Ignatius Ya`qub III. As is traditional for the head of the church, Severios has adopted the name Ignatius. Severios is known for his involvement in ecumenical dialogue. He is a president of the World Council of Churches and is also a prolific author. He was an observer at Second Vatican Council before becoming metropolitan bishop of Mosul. At the time of his election as patriarch, Iwas had been archbishop of Baghdad and Basra.
As patriarch, he established a monastic seminary, met with John Paul II during the Roman pope's trip to Syria in 2001, and installed numerous metropolitans, including Baselios Thomas I as Catholicos of India. He celebrated his Silver Jubilee in 2005.
On 17 November 1957, Patriarch Ya`qub III ordained him a priest, and, two years later, gave him the pectoral cross as rabban. In 1960, Severios pursued further study in New York. There he studied oriental languages and completed a master's degree in English at City University, and a further master's in pastoral theology at the General Theological Seminary.
In 1962 and 1963, he was delegated by the patriarch as observer at Second Vatican Council. On 17 November 1963, Severios was ordained, by Patriarch Ya`qub III, as metropolitan bishop of Mosul. As is the tradition in the church, he took an episcopal name, Severios. The next year, during renovation work on the sancturary wall of the metropolitan church in Mosul, what were reputed to be the remains of the Apostle Thomas were found. In 1969, Severios was transferred to be archbishop of Baghdad and Basra. Nine years later, he was given additional responsibility for the new diocese of Australia.
Following the death of Patriarch Ya`qub III on 25 June 1980, Severios was elected by the synod of the church to be the 122nd Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. He was enthroned as patriarch on 14 September, the feast of the Cross, by Baselios Paulose II, Catholicos of the East, in St. George's Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. As is traditional for the head of the church, he adopted the name Ignatius at this time. Being the first patriarch to be named Zakka, his name is often written as Ignatius Zakka I Iwas. His full titulary is:
As Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, he has been involved in ecumenical dialogue, and is a president of the World Council of Churches. The Chalcedonian schism is not seen to have great relevance any more, and from dialogue with the Roman pope, a reconciling declaration emerged that stated, in part:
The confusions and schisms that occurred between their Churches in the later centuries, they realize today, in no way affect or touch the substance of their faith, since these arose only because of differences in terminology and culture and in the various formulae adopted by different theological schools to express the same matter. Accordingly, we find today no real basis for the sad divisions and schisms that subsequently arose between us concerning the doctrine of Incarnation. In words and life we confess the true doctrine concerning Christ our Lord, notwithstanding the differences in interpretation of such a doctrine which arose at the time of the Council of Chalcedon.
Severios is a member in different Eastern and Western Academies and has authored a number of books on Christian education, theology, history and culture in Syriac, and the Arabic and English languages. He established a monastic seminary, the Monastery of St. Ephrem The Syrian, at Marret Saidnaya. Inaugurated on 14 September 1996, this Monastery forms part of a larger project which will include different centers and facilities. During the visit of John Paul II to Syria in 2001, the pope paid an historic visit to Severios in Damascus. The meeting took place on 6 May in Saint George's Patriarchal Cathedral at Bab Touma. The following year, Severios installed Dionysius Thomas, the president of the Episcopal Synod of Indian Church, as the Catholicos of India with the title Baselios Thomas I. Celebrations were held for his Silver Jubilee on 14 September 2005.
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