CONSTITUTION OF THE SYRIAC ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH
Amended and approved by the Holy Synod
September 22-26, 1998
St. Ephraim Seminary, Maarat Saidnaya,
In case of any conflicting interpretations, the original text (Arabic)
“The Syrian/Syriac Orthodox Church Of Antioch” is the official name of our sacred church. It refers to “Antioch” because of the Holy See that was established in that city by St. Peter, head of the Apostles, in 37 A.D. In Antioch “The disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:26). Our church confirmed the apostolic Orthodox faith and spread it all over the world. It used the Aramaic language, the language of our Lord, His holy Mother, and His righteous apostles, in all of its liturgies. This church embraces a group of believers in our Lord, Jesus Christ, The God Incarnate, Savior of the world, and in His Father and His Holy Spirit, The Holy Trinity, One God. An unshaken faith based upon the commandments of the Gospels, the teachings of the Apostles, the opinions and views of their legitimate successors, and the decisions of its Holy Synod as well. All of which represent the Sacramental Body of Christ.
Its spiritual affairs are managed by its spiritual fathers who were given authority by Jesus Christ in order to fulfill its evangelical mission. By this authority they guide and stress upon Christian teachings, justifications, consecration, preserving the holy Sacraments, and achievement of justice for all mankind.
Article 1. The SYRIAN/SYRIAC ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH is One Holy, Universal and Apostolic Church, whose Apostolic See was established in Antioch (Syria) by Saint Peter, the Head of the Apostles, in the year 37 A.D. Its present headquarters are in Damascus, Syria.
Article 2. His Holiness (H.H.) the Patriarch is the Supreme Head of the Church and its Holy Synod, the General Supervisor of all religious and administrative affairs.
Article 3. The Holy Synod, headed by H. H. the Patriarch, is the supreme religious, spiritual, legislative and administrative authority of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
Article 4. The Archdioceses of the Apostolic See of Antioch are :
1. Damascus, a Patriarchal Vicariate. Its headquarters is located in Damascus. It covers the two Counties of Damascus and suburbs.
2. Homs, Hamah & Environs, an Archdiocese, located in Homs. It covers the Counties of Homs, Hamah & Tartus.
3. Aleppo, an Archdiocese, located in Aleppo. It covers the Counties of Aleppo, Edleb, Alraqqa and Lattackiya.
4. Al-Jazirah & Euphrates, an Archdiocese, located in Al-Hassakah. It covers the Counties of Al-Hassakah and Dair-El-Zor.
5. Beirut, an Archdiocese, located in Beirut. It covers Beirut.
6. Mount Lebanon, an Archdiocese, located in Al Bouchriyeh. It covers the Counties of Mount Lebanon, Tripoli and South of Lebanon.
7. Zahle & Beqaa, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Its headquarter is located in Zahle.
8. Baghdad & Basra, an Archdiocese, located in Baghdad. It covers the Counties of Baghdad and Basra.
9. Mosul & Environs, an Archdiocese, located in Mosul. It covers the County of Mosul, Sinjar, Qarah-Qosh, and the Northern Counties of Arbel, Al-ta’meem (Karkook) and Suleimanieh.
10. St. Matthew’s Monastery, an Archdiocese, located at St. Matthew’s Monastery. It covers the villages of Bartilleh, Ba’sheeqah, Bahzaani, Aqrah and Merkey.
11. Mardin & Environs, an Archdiocese, located in Mardin. It covers the Mardin villages, Qillith, the Counties of Diyarbakir (Amid).
12. Tur’abdin, an Archdiocese, located in Midyat. It covers the Turabdin villages, Beth-Zabday (Azekh-Idil), Nusaybin (Nisibis) and its environs.
14. Adiyaman, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Adiyaman. It covers the Counties of Adiyaman, Harput, Elaziz, Gerger, Malatya, Urhoy (Edessa) and its environs.
14. Istanbul, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Istanbul. It covers the Counties of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
15. Jerusalem & Jordan and the Holy Land, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Jerusalem. It covers Palestine and Jordan.
16. Eastern USA, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in New Jersey. It covers the Eastern States of United States of America.
17. Western USA, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Los Angeles. It covers the Western States of United States of America.
18. Canada, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Montreal. It covers the whole of Canada.
19. North America of Malankara, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in New York. It covers the United States of America and Canada.
20. Brazil, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in San Paulo. It covers the whole of Brazil.
21. Argentine, a Patriarchal Vicariate, located in La Plata-Buenos Aires. It covers Argentina.
22. Sweden & Scandinavia, an Archdiocese, located in Södertälje. It covers Sweden and the Scandinavian countries.
23. Sweden, Patriarchal Vicariate, located in Södertälje. It covers the Churches of the Vicariate in Sweden.
24. Netherlands (Holland), an Archdiocese, Located at St. Ephrem’s Monastery in Losser- Holland.
25. Germany, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Located at Mor Yacoub of Saroug, Warburg. It covers all Germany.
26. Belgium and France, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Located at Brussles. It covers Belgium, France, and Luxemburg.
27. Switzerland and Austria, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Located at Mor Augin Monastery, Arth, Switzerland. It covers Switzerland and Austria.
28. United Kingdom, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Located in London. It covers the whole United Kingdom.
29. Australia & New Zealand, a Patriarchal Vicariate, Located in Sydney. It covers the whole of Australia and New Zealand.
30. Knanaya, an Archdiocese, located in Chingavanam, Kerala. It covers all the Knanaya churches in / out of India.
31. Catholicate of the East, its headquarter is Kerala. It covers all the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in India, except the Knanaya Archdiocese, the churches of the Patriarchal See, and the Evangelical Ministry Associations in India.
Article 5. All churches, their organizations and Evangelical Ministry Associations, not included in the Syrian Archdioceses mentioned in Article 4, are governed directly by H. H. the Patriarch.
Article 6. The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch consists of : Episcopate, Priesthood, and Deaconry. Each of these is divided into ranks. The Episcopate consists of : the Patriarchate, the Catholicate and the Metropolitanate (wherever “Metropolitan” is mentioned in this Constitution, it also means the Bishop). The Priesthood consists of : the Archpriest (ܟܘܪܝܐ) and the Priest (ܩܫܝܫܐ) , while the Deaconry is comprised of these ranks: the Archdeacon, the Deacon, the Subdeacon, the Reader and the Chanter.
Article 7. H. H. the Patriarch is the legitimate successor of St. Peter the Head Apostle. He is the Pontiff who is lawfully elected by : His Beatitude the Catholicos, the Metropolitans of the Archdioceses, the Metropolitans Patriarchal Vicars in the Archdioceses, and the Metropolitan Assistant Patriarch. The Patriarch is the Supreme Head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the defender of its faith, doctrine, and apostolic traditions. The symbol of its unity, its representative and spokesman everywhere. The general supervisor of all its affairs, and the spiritual father of all Syrian Orthodox people worldwide. He must be obeyed by the Catholicos, Metropolitans, priests, monks, nuns, deacons and all laity. Upon his induction, his name shall be : His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius . . . (his personal name is to follow). His name shall be proclaimed throughout the churches of all Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses during the Holy Mass and canonical prayers, before the name of the archdiocese Metropolitan, and in India before the name of the Catholicos. His title is : His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff Moran Mor Ignatius . . . Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church.
Article 8. His Beatitude The Catholicos (ܡܦܪܝܢܐ ܐܘ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܐ) ranks second after the Patriarch within the Syrian Orthodox Church hierarchy. He is elected only by the Metropolitans under the jurisdiction of the Catholicate See. They must obey him, so must the priests, deacons and all the people within the Syrian Orthodox Archdioceses in India. At his ordination, he is proclaimed : Mor Baselius . . . (his personal name is added here). His name shall be proclaimed throughout the archdioceses in India during the Holy Mass and canonical prayers, after the name of the Patriarch and preceding the name of the Archdiocese Metropolitan. His name should be mentioned also at every Syrian church where he attends prayer. His title is: His Beatitude Mor Baselius . . . Catholicos of the East and Metropolitan of Malankara.
Article 9. The Metropolitan (Archbishop) is one of the church shepherds, the successors of the Apostles. He is nominated by H. H. the Patriarch and elected by parishioners of the vacant Archdiocese. He is then appointed after the Holy Synod’s approval. He should obey the instructions of H.H the Patriarch. He should be obeyed by the priests, deacons and all the people of his Archdiocese. His name shall be proclaimed throughout the churches of his Archdiocese after the name of H. H. the Patriarch. His title is : “His Eminence…” The title of the Bishop shall be: “His Grace Mor…”..
Article 10. The Priest is the one who ministers the Church Sacraments, and shepherds the spiritual affairs of the faithful within the church he is assigned to, through the guidance and supervision of the Archdiocese Metropolitan.
Article 11. The Deacon assists the clergy in performing church rites.
His Holiness The Patriarch
Article 12. H. H. the Patriarch is the Supreme Head of the church and its Holy Synod, and the general administrator to its religious, spiritual, and administrative affairs. He supervises Archdioceses religious, administrative, and financial matters. He also approves their local bylaws and overlooks their final budgets.
Article 13. His Holiness the Patriarch convenes the Holy Synod.
Article 14. His Holiness the Patriarch presides over the Holy Synod meeting sessions, sanctions, and announces its decisions.
Article 15. H. H. the Patriarch ordains the lawfully elected Catholicos and Metropolitans, and consecrates the Holy Chrism (مورون). In performing these services, he is to be assisted (by his invitation) by at least two Metropolitans. H. H. the Patriarch also confirms the election of all Metropolitans who are under the jurisdiction of the Catholicate See. He also ordains Metropolitans of the Knanaya Archdiocese, and the Evangelization Associations, and the Apostolic See churches by right, and Metropolitans of the other archdioceses in India if necessary.
a) H.H. the Patriarch signs all agreements, documents treaties, contracts, documents of all kinds and letters, and all that relate to the affairs of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch.
b) H.H himself governs all external relations with other churches and also the local, regional, and international parish councils and frames relations with them. He has the right to send his representative to all those organizations to carry out his own instructions.
Article 17. His Holiness the Patriarch dispatches the clergy on ecclesiastical and cultural assignments.
Article 18. His Holiness the Patriarch appoints a cleric (ܩܠܝܪܝܩܝܐ) as a Patriarchal Envoy (ܡܫܕܪܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܐ) in vacant or brand newly established archdioceses. He also notifies the relative civilian authorities and the Metropolitans of the archdioceses under the Antiochian Apostolic See.
Article 19. When H. H. the Patriarch visits an archdiocese, he sits on the cathedral seat in the church. Next to him sits the Metropolitan of the archdiocese, then his accompanying Metropolitans according to their ordination seniority. None of the Metropolitans shall carry their crosiers (pastoral staffs) in his presence, in reverence to the Apostolic See, and acknowledgment of his superiority.
Article 20. H. H. the Patriarch bestows decorations on whomever he finds worthy.
Article 21. H. H. the Patriarch has the right to examine, correct, scrutinize, eliminate or introduce new church rites. He is also in charge of our heritage as being faithful, scientific, moral, intellectual, and social phenomenon. He supervises the choice of its texts and appoints whoever he wants for this mission. He has the sole right to publish our heritage especially in matters of faith, doctrine, and rites.
Article 22. Matters in which H. H. the Patriarch confers necessarily with the Holy Synod are :
A- The approval of the election of the Catholicos, Metropolitans and their ordination.
B- Moving Metropolitans from one Archdiocese to another.
C- Removal of the Catholicos, and Metropolitans, and the acceptance of their resignations.
D- Altering the geographical boundaries of Archdioceses.
E- Creating, establishing or abolishing Archdioceses.
F-Selling part or all of the Patriarchate’s real estates and endowments.
Article 23. The management of all Syrian Orthodox monasteries and Patriarchal organizations is directly bound to the Patriarch. He solely has the right to appoint their care takers.
Article 24. All archdioceses must give 10% of their properties’ income to the venerable Patriarchate as annual dues in addition to the patriarchal tithe according to the old custom. Monasteries however, should give to the Patriarchate 20% of their annual income. These dues are to be mentioned in their respective budgets.
Article 25. H. H. the Patriarch visits all the Archdioceses of the Antiochian Apostolic See and churches; making whatever observations he deems necessary. Also, he holds accountable the Archdiocese Metropolitan, the priests, church Boards of Trustee, and all other institutions, whenever necessary.
Article 26. H. H. informs the Holy Synod’s members of all his accomplished activities during the period between convening of the last and present Synod
Article 27. The Patriarch communicates personally with the Catholicos, the Metropolitans and bishops. He addresses the Catholicos as: Your Beatitude (ܛܘܒܬܢܘܬܗ ܕܐܚܘܢ) our brother; a Metropolitan as: Your Eminence (ܡܥܠܝܘܬܗ ܕܐܚܘܢ) our brother; and a bishop (ܐܦܣܩܘܦܐ): Your Grace our (ܡܪܘܬܗ ܕܐܚܘܢ) brother. His signature shall be at the bottom of the letter. However, pastoral encyclicals (bulls) will bear his name and seal at the top of the letter.
Election of the Patriarch
Article 28. The Patriarchal See is considered vacant in the following cases :
a) The death of the Patriarch.
b) Resignation or dismissal or retirement.
c) Insurmountable and permanent health problems.
In the case of the death of the Patriarch, the Patriarchal Assistant (ܡܥܕܪܢܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܐ), the Patriarchal Vicar (ܐܦܛܪܘܦܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܐ) of Damascus, the clergy in charge of the Patriarchal correspondence office, and whoever Metropolitan present, collectively must do the following :
a) Shall immediately notify His Beatitude the legitimate Catholicos and all Metropolitans in order to participate in the burial service.
b) Shall also inform the highest local civilian authorities where the Patriarchate is located, and the heads of all other denominations.
c) Shall seal, by red wax, all his movable legacy, notes, records, and files. His library and residence must also be sealed.
d) After concluding the funeral and burial service, all above-mentioned, in the presence of Metropolitans committee, shall record and specify the legacy in an official report signed by all, to be delivered to the Patriarch-Elect.
Article 29. 1-The Patriarchal Assistant and the Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus, shall immediately telegraph His Beatitude the Catholicos, and the Metropolitans proceed to the Patriarchate. There they shall convene presided by the lawful Catholicos if present, or by the most senior (according to ordination) of the present Metropolitans. They shall elect a Patriarchal Locum Tenens (temporary acting Patriarch) by majority vote in one week period. Whoever is absent or doesn’t express his vote in writing, will forfeit his vote, and the name of the newly elected Patriarchal Locum Tenens is immediately declared.
2–The Patriarchal Assistant and the Patriarchal Vicar in Damascus shall collect the incoming responses and confirm their contents in an official report in the presence of the Metropolitans. The name of the Metropolitan with majority votes who would act as Patriarchal Locum Tenens shall be declared and notified immediately.
Article 30. The Patriarchal Locum Tenens must proceed immediately to the Patriarchate’s headquarters. In case of delay or death, the Metropolitan with the second highest votes shall replace him.
Article 31. If two Metropolitans receive equal number of votes, the most senior in ordination will win. In all cases, the local civilian authorities in the country where the Patriarchate is located must be notified with the name of the newly elected Patriarchal Locum Tenens.
Article 32. The Patriarchal Locum Tenens shall not leave the Patriarchal headquarters except in an emergency. He shall have no right to change any thing in the Patriarchal headquarters or any office or institution belonging to it. Furthermore, He shall not remove or promote anyone of the clergy or others. He also shall have no right to sell or buy or exchange any properties, or to permit anyone to do such things in the Archdioceses.
Article 33. The Patriarchal Locum Tenens will summon His Beatitude the Catholicos and the Metropolitans, who are members of the Holy Synod, to elect the new Patriarch within a period not to exceed Thirty days. They are required to appear in the set date. If anyone fails to be present due to a legitimate reason, he should cast his vote in a formal, sealed and confidential letter, electing whomever he prefers, otherwise he loses his vote.
Article 34. The Patriarch to-be-elected should be well known for his righteousness and capability in administration, possessing theological and literary knowledge. He should also master both Syriac and Arabic languages in addition to another living foreign language. He must be proven, by his past conduct, to be a defender of the faith of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Also, he should have successfully served as Metropolitan for a period of no less than seven years.
Article 35. No one below the age of forty years shall be elected as Patriarch.
Article 36. The following shall participate in the election of the new Patriarch :
1- His Beatitude the Catholicos, the Metropolitan of the Knanaya Archdiocese, the Metropolitans of the churches of the Antiochian Apostolic See in India, and the Metropolitan of North America of the Malankara Archdiocese. All above shall elect but may not be elected.
2- Their Eminence the Archdioceses Metropolitans, the Metropolitan Patriarchal Assistant, and the Metropolitans Patriarchal Vicars who are appointed to archdioceses.
Article 37. The Patriarchal Locum Tenens will hold a closed meeting in the Patriarchal Cathedral, presided by His Beatitude the Catholicos, if present, and attended by the Metropolitans who are members of the Holy Synod. After the reading of a station (ܩܘܡܐ) from the Pentecostal Rite, and invoking the Holy Spirit; a secret election is conducted using ballots bearing, in the Syriac language, the names of the venerable prelates who meet the nomination conditions. The voter takes a ballot from the presiding officer and after signing he ascends to the steps of the Holy Altar, and marks clearly, with a red pen, the sign of the cross next to the name of his choice. Then he places the ballot in the chalice placed on the life-giving Altar. Later, the presiding officer, accompanied by the Patriarchal Locum Tenens and two of the most senior Metropolitans in ordination, count the number of the election ballots. Then, they read them publicly after checking their legibility, and record the names openly. The ballots then are burned after the minutes of the meeting are recorded. But the letters bearing the votes of the absent prelates are saved to be used in case the elections is repeated. The election event should be recorded in the minutes of the Holy Synod meetings.
Article 38. The presiding officer will ask the prelate, who is elected Patriarch, if he accepts the election. If he agrees, his name will be proclaimed unto the Holy Synod. Then, all prelates shall rise up from their seats to pay him his accorded obedience and reverence. Afterwards, the committee supervising the election prepares a record, signed and stamped by the voting Metropolitans. The presiding officer then announces the name of the Patriarch-Elect to the crowd of faithful by ringing the church bells and conducting a thanksgiving prayer. The Patriarch-Elect concludes the prayer by giving his blessings.
Article 39. If the prelate-elect refuses to accept the Patriarchate, the election will be repeated once again. Likewise, if the votes were split equally among two or more, the election will be repeated one more time. If the votes were split equal again, the prelates will resort to another way of voting. The Metropolitans shall never leave the church until the election is completed.
Article 40. If the Patriarchal Locum Tenens is the Patriarch-Elect, His Beatitude the Catholicos is the one to ask him if he accepts the election result, otherwise the most senior Metropolitan in ordination.
Article 41. Before his inauguration, the Patriarch-Elect must agree, in a statement attested to in the presence of a notary-public, that all that he owns, such as liquid and fixed assets wherever they are, will be the sole property of the Patriarchal See after his death, and that nobody shall have the right to claim any of it ever.
Article 42. The Holy Synod will designate the nearest holiday, or Sunday, following the Fortieth day memorial prayer for the departing Patriarch, to conduct the inauguration ceremonies for the new Patriarch. The Archdioceses will be notified to attend the inauguration celebration. Likewise, the local civilian authorities and heads of the other religious denominations will be informed.
Article 43. If present, His Beatitude the Catholicos shall celebrate the Holy Eucharist, otherwise , the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, or the most senior Metropolitan in ordination (in case the Patriarchal Locum Tenens is himself the Patriarch-Elect). All the prelates will join in the celebration. During the Holy Liturgy, the inauguration of the elected Patriarch will be conducted in accordance with the Syrian Antiochian Rite.
Article 44. H. H. the new Patriarch, shall take procession of the legacy (inheritance) of his predecessor from the committee which recorded the legacy, and a formal record must be kept of the proceedings.
Article 45. The Patriarchal See must not be left vacant more than Thirty days, except in extreme circumstances.
Article 46. If H.H. the Patriarch wishes to submit his resignation, he will call for a meeting attended by His Beatitude the legitimate Catholicos, their eminences the Archdioceses Metropolitans, the Patriarchal Assistant, and the Patriarchal Vicars and will render his resignation in writing, explaining his obligatory reasons.
If H.H. the Patriarch insists upon his resignation and the above attendees fail to convince him otherwise, or in case of existing permanent physical obstacles, a majority of two thirds vote to approve his relief, will be taken. The Antiochian Patriarchal See will thereby, be considered vacant. A new Patriarch will then be elected according to articles stated in this constitution.
Article 47. In case the resignation of H.H the Patriarch is accepted, the Holy Synod will provide a suitable place for his spiritual and physical habitation. His living expenses and healthcare will be properly provided for. His name will also be mentioned in prayers throughout all Syrian Orthodox Churches worldwide, following the name of the new Patriarch.
Article 48. The Patriarchal administrative and financial Body, supervised by the Patriarchal Assistant, will organize registry and monitory records in which all Patriarchal assets, income, and expenses are registered according to official book keeping standards. The officials in all monasteries and institutions belonging to the Patriarchate will also apply the same procedure.
a) At the start of every fiscal year the Patriarchal Body supervised by the Patriarchal Assistant shall prepare a projected budget for expected income and expenses. It shall be considered as executable budget following the approval of H.H the Patriarch.
b) At the start of every year an account shall be prepared to record the income and expenses in accordance with the budget boundaries. Expenses should clearly specify the available funds for the upcoming year. Budget shall be considered final and executable following the approval of H.H the Patriarch.
a) The Metropolitan presides over and administers the Archdiocese. He ordains its priests and deacons, consecrates its altars, temples and the Tebleethos (ܛܒܠܝܬܐ). He also consecrates the Holy Oil for Baptism and for anointing the Sick. He also manages its spiritual, administrative, and financial affairs. Moreover, he is in charge of all its endowments and premises.
b) He presides over Parish Councils of the Archdiocese that are formed according to their own bylaws. He works on establishing religious, charitable, social, cultural, and educational organizations and institutions. He welcomes efforts of parishioners working to implement the church’s mission. He cooperates with whom he sees fit to establish the bylaws that shall be considered executable following the approval of H.H the Patriarch.
c) He takes into consideration the unification of local bylaws in the same region or same country.
d) He presides over the Preliminary Spiritual Court in his Archdiocese. He can hire one or more legal consultant to give him legal advice. Verdicts rendered by the Preliminary Spiritual Court are subject to be appealed at the Patriarchal Spiritual Appeal Court. No divorce or marriage annulment verdict will be considered executable unless it is lawfully, positively, and undoubtedly proven, and approved by H.H the Patriarch.
e) In special and urgent cases, he can transfer priests from one church to another within his Archdiocese. He can also discipline any offending priest with behavioral punishments.
f) He supervises the activities of the charitable organizations and the clubs belonging to his Archdiocese.
g) He requires from every priest in his Archdiocese to submit an annual written report on all activities of his parish, including proper reports on births, baptisms, marriages and deaths. He shall send a copy of such report to H.H the Patriarch.
h) All of his activities are subject to the supervision of H.H the Patriarch.
Article 51. Each Archdiocese shall give its Metropolitan all his pastoral dues in accordance with its established customs.
Article 52. When a Metropolitan visits another church, in the presence or absence of its own Metropolitan, his name is to be proclaimed after the name of the Archdiocese Metropolitan during the Holy Liturgy and canonical prayers.
Article 53. No one shall build or renew a church, or an Altar in a church, without the consent of the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan.
Article 54. The Administrative and Financial Body in the Archdiocese, supervised by the Metropolitan, shall organize the following records and registries :
1- Official registry (signed and sealed by the archdiocese seal) bearing records on baptisms, engagements, weddings, deaths, wills, property titles and all contracts and deeds, legacy records and spiritual decrees.
2 – Registry and financial records for all Archdiocesan assets, its income and expenses, according to official book keeping standards.
3 – All churches throughout Archdiocese shall have the same registry and records under the supervision of the church’s priest and his responsibility.
a) The Archdiocesan Body , supervised by the Metropolitan, shall prepare a projected budget in which all income including all pastoral dues from churches belonging to the Archdiocese are mentioned. The expected expenses, including those for Archdiocesan projects will also be mentioned. It shall be considered legal and official after the approval of the Metropolitan. A copy of such budget shall be sent to H.H the Patriarch for information.
b) At the end of every fiscal year, a budget should be prepared showing all incoming funds and specifying expenses according to budget boundaries showing proper spending and available funds for the next fiscal year. This budget shall be considered as official and final after being approved by the Metropolitan. A copy of such budget will be sent to H.H the Patriarch.
c) Dues mentioned in the budget as expenses for the Metropolitan to guarantee his proper standard of living including his welfare and his respected appearance worthy of the Archdiocese’s dignity are to be considered his Right whether he spends part or all of them. He also has the right to keep them for himself or give them back to the Archdiocesan treasury.
d) In case the Metropolitan deposits Archdiocesan funds in banks, the Metropolitan must provide H.H the Patriarch with bank name and account number.
e) The Metropolitan has no right to sell, put leans, or mortgage part or all of Archdiocesan endowments, unless approval from H.H the Patriarch is obtained first after a detailed study fully explaining in writing the reasons justifying such action.
Article 56. The Metropolitan will be vigilant in choosing the best priests whom he ordains, according to church rules and traditions after obtaining approval from H.H. the Patriarch.
Article 57. The Metropolitan has the right to submit his resignation to H. H. the Patriarch, or to retire at the age of Seventy. However, his retirement is mandatory at the age of Seventy Five. H.H the Patriarch has the right to extend the term of his service if necessary.
Article 58. If a Metropolitan becomes too old to run , or incapable of running his archdiocese for any reason, or if he resigns or retires, the Archdiocese which he served shall provide for his living honorably. The location of his residence however, is decided by H.H. The Patriarch.
a) If a complaint is filed against a Metropolitan in matters concerning the Church’s faith, canons, by-laws, or its traditions, H. H. the Patriarch shall investigate and study the matter intensely, and if necessary, dispatches a committee of Metropolitans to investigate. If the complaint is validated, H.H the Patriarch will summon the accused Metropolitan in order to he himself investigate and suspend, then counsel. If the accused reverses course and shows his readiness to repent and obey, H.H the Patriarch shall discipline him before sending him back to his Archdiocese.
b) If the accused sticks to his position, H. H. the Patriarch will convene the Holy Synod for trial and punishment.
c) H.H the Patriarch and the Holy Synod have the right to review the case if the accused repents.
Article 60. If a Metropolitan punishes one of his priests with ecclesiastic chastisements, he notifies H. H. the Patriarch, detailing the causes which required the action.
Article 61. The affidavit of any priest or deacon who complains against his bishop who punished him earlier for his transgressing behavior, is rejected.
Article 62. When Metropolitans visit a church, they shall sit in the order of their ordination seniority. Such is the case also in the Holy Synod. A Metropolitan is ahead of a bishop in all situations, even if the bishop is more senior in ordination except at his own Archdiocese.
Article 63. A Metropolitan shall be in charge of only one Archdiocese. But it is within the rights of the Holy Synod, or H. H. the Patriarch, to assign him temporarily over another Archdiocese when necessary.
Article 64. If a Metropolitan is lawfully transferred to another Archdiocese, then all that he has acquired through his service in his first Archdiocese belongs to him.
Article 65. The Metropolitan shall strive to continuously pray, fast, preach, guide, and give alms. Also to be a good example to the clergy and believers, for the prosperity of the Church.
Article 66. Every Metropolitan shall have Parish Councils or Boards of Directors over which he presides, or headed by his representatives in his absence, in accordance with the Unified By-laws of the Boards of Trustees with consideration to local civil laws.
Article 67. Every Metropolitan shall have a clergy council, presided by him, to look into the spiritual matters of the Archdiocese.
Article 68. Every Metropolitan shall keep at his headquarters all books, registers, wares, all possessions, property deeds and gifts records that belong to the Archdiocese according to official .registry, a copy of which shall be dispatched to H.H the Patriarch.
Article 69. A Metropolitan shall not accept a monk without the consent of the latter’s spiritual superior, or a priest without the consent of the head of his Archdiocese.
a) A Metropolitan shall have no right to interfere in an Archdiocese that does not belong to him. Moreover, he is not allowed to perform church services in it unless permitted by the head of that Archdiocese and with his consent. Also, if he performs any ordinations there, they are considered void, and the matter will be referred to H. H. the Patriarch.
b) When a Metropolitan travels outside his Archdiocese to participate in public meetings, local, or regional, or international, he must obtain permission from H.H the Patriarch. Upon return to his Archdiocese he must dispatch a written report to H.H the Patriarch detailing his mission.
Article 71. It is unlawful for a Metropolitan to designate his successor, under any circumstances. However, H. H. the Patriarch and the Holy Synod can appoint an assistant to him if need be. However, it will be proper to obtain his approval.
a) Any Metropolitan who accepts bribes for any action he performs, will be suspended for a period no less than two months, by a Patriarchal decision. Such actions in question will be considered absolutely invalid. The whole matter will then be referred to the Holy Synod.
b) Any Metropolitan who demises the moral and ethical reputation of the church, or affects its finances for personal gains, shall be suspended by Patriarchal decision and referred to the Holy Synod for trial.
Article 73. The Metropolitan shall sign a document certified by a notary public or any other official institution specialized in legalized documents, in which he shall declare that all his possessions of movable or immovable funds, wherever they are, will be divided between his Archdiocese and the Patriarchate after his death. No one shall have the right to claim anything as the church is his only heir.
Article 74. In an Archdiocese, a Metropolitan is accountable to H.H. the Patriarch and the Holy Synod for his transgressions against the Church Constitution, and against the implementation of the resolutions of the Antiochian Holy Synod. Moreover, he is responsible for all religious publications originating from his Archdiocese.
a- The Metropolitan shall hold in remembrance the primacy of H. H. the Patriarch during the Holy Eucharist. He shall also remember his brothers the Metropolitans in his prayers.
b- He fulfills the wishes of H. H. the Patriarch, and cooperates with his brethren the Metropolitans within his abilities for the benefit of the holy church.
c- He must attend the regular and special sessions of the Holy Synod. He is required to have a legal excuse, if absent.
d- He seeks the Patriarch’s permission to travel to the Patriarchal Center, and to any Archdiocese outside his jurisdiction, provided that he notifies its Metropolitan upon his arrival.
e- He shall not negotiate with heads of other churches, or other religions religious institutions in church or spiritual matters unless permitted by H.H. the Patriarch.
f- He shall not lend, borrow, sponsor, or put in trust or lease the properties of the Archdiocese, or those of the churches, associations and charitable institutions, without the consent of the local Board of Trustees and H.H the Patriarch.
g- He shall not exchange, mortgage or sell any of the properties of the Archdiocese, or churches, associations, and charitable institutions without the consent of the local Board of Trustees and H.H the Patriarch.
Article 76. The Metropolitan undertakes the following matters:
a- He continuously visits the members of his Archdiocese.
b- He supervises the census and the records of the members of his Archdiocese in an official registry.
c- He works to establish churches, to start Syriac schools, centers for religious training and other church organizations in his Archdiocese, and helps them grow.
d- Trains those he chooses to join the Sacred Priesthood, to exercise the customs, spiritual activities and the duties of the Priesthood.
e- He maintains a special record for the clergymen in his Archdiocese, containing all information pertaining to each one of them.
f- He submits to the Patriarch, prior to the convening of the Holy Synod’s regular session, a detailed written report about his Archdiocese.
Article 77. The Metropolitan starts a letter addressed to H.H. the Patriarch with this expression: “I kiss your right hand …”, and ends it with the expression: “your spiritual son …”.
Election of the Metropolitan
Article 78. An archdiocese is considered vacant in the following cases:
B- Resignation, removal or retirement.
C- Permanent physical obstacles.
Article 79. In the case of death, the priests and the Board of Trustees shall inform H. H. the Patriarch and the civil authorities. They shall also seal the deceased’s legacy with “red wax” and prepare a signed record of it.
Article 80. In the case of resignation or retirement, the Archdiocese Metropolitan submits a written statement to H. H. the Patriarch to be studied by the Holy Synod.
Article 81. In case of permanent physical obstacles, the Archdiocese Metropolitan shall submit a letter of resignation to H. H. the Patriarch, signed by the clergy and the Board of Trustees, and the report shall be sent to the Holy Synod for assessment. In case he declines to render his resignation, H.H the Patriarch shall have the right to resort to legal procedures to deal with the matter.
Article 82. In case H. H. the Patriarch is informed of a death, he notifies all the Metropolitans of the Antiochian See. Then H.H the Patriarch or a representative designated by him, will depart with a group of Metropolitans to that Archdiocese to perform the funeral service for the late Metropolitan.
Article 83. In the case of resignation and permanent obstacles, H. H. the Patriarch shall send a delegation, led by a Metropolitan, to investigate and urge him to withdraw his resignation. The delegation shall also confirm the presence of permanent obstacles as established by three specialists, and a written report is to be submitted to H.H. the Patriarch. Thereafter, His Holiness, within a week from receiving the report, shall write to the Metropolitans asking for their opinion.
Article 84. When an Archdiocese becomes vacant, H.H. the Patriarch shall immediately appoint a Patriarchal Envoy to run its affairs.
Article 85. The Patriarchal Envoy (ܡܫܕܪܐ ܦܛܪܝܪܟܝܐ) must not leave the Archdiocese without the permission of H. H the Patriarch, and for a very short period of time only. He shall have no right to change anything in the Archdiocese; neither to replace or promote employees, nor appoint a clergyman to the Archdiocese or meddle with its possessions. He should rather accurately manage its accounts regarding the income and expenses which he will relinquish to the new Metropolitan.
Article 86. A Metropolitan is chosen from among monk-priest (ܕܝܪܝܐ ܩܫܝܫܐ) and is nominated by H. H. the Patriarch. He is elected by the majority of the clergy and the faithful of the Archdiocese for which he is nominated for. However, if it is not possible for the faithful to do so, then the Archdiocese clergy, Boards of Trustees, church institutions and active committees will elect him, and submit his name to H.H. the Patriarch, who in turn must consult with members of the Holy Synod. If he receives the majority of their votes, he then ordains him. The Metropolitans will then exchange with him the oath of fellowship.
Article 87. If the elected candidate is a widowed priest he shall be ordained as Bishop.
Article 88. A Metropolitan is chosen from among priest-monks and known for his virtuous conduct. He should be qualified and has studied Theology and the Syriac language. He should also be known for his adherence to the true faith.
Article 89. Metropolitans, who do not have their own Archdiocese, may be nominated for vacant Archdioceses.
Article 90. A candidate to be ordained as Metropolitan must be at least thirty years old.
Article 91. If an Archdiocese was unable to elect a Metropolitan, within six months after the seat became vacant and after H.H the Patriarch has beforehand nominated more than one candidate, then, H.H. the Patriarch and the Holy Synod have the right to choose and ordain a Metropolitan for that Archdiocese, according to the legal procedures of this Constitution.
Article 92. If the new Metropolitan does not join his new Archdiocese within a period of three months from the date of his appointment without a lawful excuse, the Holy Synod will then review his case.
Article 93. H. H. the Patriarch shall appoint the Patriarchal Assistant and the Patriarchal Vicars to the Patriarchal Headquarters or to vacant Archdioceses. When necessary, he shall ordain one of them a Metropolitan, after obtaining the approval of the Holy Synod.
Article 94. The new Metropolitan should correspond with all the Metropolitans to ask for the oath of fellowship.
The Patriarchal Assistant and The Patriarchal Vicar at the Headquarters of the Antiochian Apostolic See
Article 95. The Patriarchal Assistant and the Patriarchal Vicar of Damascus are appointed through nomination by H. H. the Patriarch and the consent of the Holy Synod. Their rank shall be that of a Metropolitan, and their privileges are the same as those of the active Metropolitans.
Article 96. The Patriarchal Assistant’s functions shall include the following:
A- He presides over the Spiritual Court of Appeals. His Holiness the Patriarch may vest this responsibility to other Metropolitan whenever he wants. The president of the Spiritual Court of Appeals must inform H. H. about each case, and no decision shall be taken without his approval.
B- He Supervises the Patriarchal Secretariat in addition to its financial, organizational and internal affairs.
C- Whenever necessary, he is delegated by H. H. the Patriarch to oversee the affairs of Patriarchal Vicariates and churches that are directly administrated by H. H. the Patriarch, or any other Archdiocese.
D- His name is mentioned after that of the Patriarchal Vicar in the churches of the Damascus Patriarchal Archdiocese. He sits directly to the left of H. H. the Patriarch.
E- In general, he executes missions and duties assigned to him by H.H the Patriarch and under his supervision.
F- He certifies, in the name of the Patriarch, all certificates dispatched by the Archdioceses.
Article 97. The Patriarchal Vicar’s function in Damascus includes the following:
A- He presides over the Preliminary Spiritual Court in Damascus.
B- He forms the Board of Trustees in the Patriarchal Archdiocese under the direct supervision of H.H the Patriarch, and heads it on behalf of H.H the Patriarch.
C- He reviews the status of the Archdiocese, visits the faithful, and performs spiritual services.
D- He grants all certificates issued by the Patriarchal Vicariate in Damascus.
E- He keeps all records pertaining to the Archdiocese.
F- His pastoral name is mentioned after the name of H.H. the Patriarch in the Patriarchal churches of the Damascus Archdiocese. He also sits at the right side of the Holy Altar.
G- All decisions taken by the Board of Trustees in the Patriarchal Archdiocese in Damascus are subject to H.H approval.
The Holy Synod
Article 98. The Holy Synod is headed by H.H. the Patriarch. It consists of all Metropolitans of the Antiochian Archdioceses of the Apostolic See, the Patriarchal Vicars of the Metropolitan rank as well as the Patriarchal Assistant.
Article 99. The Holy Synod convenes, by an invitation of its president H. H. the Patriarch, every two years, and whenever deemed necessary. However, if H. H. the Patriarch, under normal circumstances, fails to invite the Synod to three consecutive sessions, the Holy Synod then has the right to meet, headed by the most senior Metropolitan in ordination.
Article 100. When deemed necessary, H. H. the Patriarch calls for a General Synod, headed by His Holiness, where all members of both Synods of Damascus and India, including His Beatitude the Catholicos will attend under the presidency of H.H. the Patriarch.
Article 101. Any Metropolitan who fails to attend the meetings of the Holy Synod without a valid excuse will receive a warning from the latter. If his absence is repeated appropriate measures will be taken against him.
Article 102. The Synod is considered in a lawful quorum if attended by two thirds of its members. Its decisions will be considered enforceable when voted for by the majority.
Article 103 The Holy Synod has the following functions:
A – Election and induction of H. H. the Patriarch.
B – Approval of a Patriarch’s nominee for the Episcopal rank.
C –Investigation and impeachment of H.H. the Patriarch and the Metropolitans.
D -Looking into religious heresies and violations of church traditions and regulations, and passing judgments on the offenders, be they clerics or laity, and taking disciplinary actions against them.
A-The Matter of referral of H.H. the Patriarch to the Holy Synod for investigation shall not be looked into unless a written request is submitted by 2/3 of Synod members to three of most senior Metropolitans who are members of the Holy Synod.
B – It is not permitted to refer H.H. the Patriarch to the Holy Synod for impeachment, unless approved by two thirds of the Holy Synod members.
C – If, within one month, the Holy Synod fails to reach its decision, H.H. the Patriarch will be considered innocent according to the laws, without further need for a decision in that regard.
D – The Holy Synod shall pass its judgment on the Patriarch, in accordance with the Church rules and laws, by a two thirds majority of the attending members. If the Patriarch is found guilty and is relieved from his position, then the Apostolic See will be declared vacant. In such a case, the specific articles relating to the election of a Patriarchal Locum Tenens, and the election of a new Patriarch will be implemented in accordance with this Constitution.
Priests, Deacons and their Duties
Article 105. To be ordained a Priest (ܩܫܝܫܐ), a candidate must be known for his piety, good conduct, zeal gentleness, good health, and blemishlessness. He must have studied the Holy Bible along with its commentaries, completed his Theological studies, read some books of the church fathers and its canonical books and by-laws, learned the Syriac language and the language of the country in which he is to be ordained, learned church rites with sufficient hymns, and church music. Furthermore, he must be married one time only.
Article 106. When ordained, a priest must be over twenty three years of age.
Article 107. A priest is ordained for a particular church, through lawful election, devoting his full-time for its service. Priests beyond the needs of a church should not be ordained. However when necessary, it is permitted to ordain a part-time priest according to prescribed rules.
Article 108. The duty of the Priest is to minister the church mysteries with piety and reverence, preach to the believers, visit their homes teaching Christian principles, visit the sick, reconcile adversaries and guide them to receive the Holy Sacraments. He is to seek the sheltered poor taking care of them. He is also to observe the status of his parish especially the youth. He himself should be a good example for the faithful.
Article 109. A priest is not to conclude a contract or bless a marriage ceremony without first obtaining a permit from the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese after submitting the necessary documents, otherwise he shall be subject to ecclesiastic discipline. Moreover, a priest is not allowed to have his own seal or official licenses bearing his name unless authorized to do so by his Metropolitan, and only in extreme circumstances.
Article 110. If a priest acts improperly as to the administration of any of the church mysteries or by-laws, or demonstrates misconduct, then his Metropolitan will have the right to suspend and discipline him according to ecclesiastical chastisement. If he continues his deviation to the point of causing offenses within the church, his case will be referred to H. H. the Patriarch who shall assign someone to investigate him. H.H the Patriarch alone has the right to strip him from priesthood and excommunicate him.
Article 111. A priest shall not bless a believer in the presence of prelates.
Article 112. A priest shall not be transferred from one Archdiocese to another, except in extreme necessities, and with the approval of the Metropolitans of both Archdioceses and the consent of H. H. the Patriarch.
Article 113. A priest shall be considered retired at the age of seventy (70). If necessary, his Metropolitan may extend the term of his service taking into consideration the civilian local laws.
Article 114. A resigned priest shall not be permitted to return to service at any parish unless approved by the two Metropolitans and confirmed by H. H. the Patriarch.
Article 115. A priest who is retired lawfully for reaching retirement age can serve in any parish that chooses him with the approval of its Metropolitan and confirmation of His Holiness the Patriarch.
Article 116. The retired priest shall receive pension according to the rules and regulations of the Archdiocese he served and retired in, and the country he lives in. His pension from the Archdiocese shall be stopped if he serves in another Archdiocese.
Article 117. In case of death of a priest, the Archdiocese shall provide the cost of living for his wife and his under-age children, in addition to privileges stated according to the regulations of the country he served at.
Article 118. If a priest leaves his church in defiance of his Metropolitan, he is not to be accepted in another church,. and he shall be subject to ecclesiastic disciplinary action. If he persists in his defiance he will be given a final warning. If he still does not comply, His Holiness will strip him of Priesthood at the request of his Metropolitan.
Article 119. An Archpriest (ܟܘܪܝܐ) is higher in rank among priests (ܩܫܝ̈ܫܐ). No priest is elevated to the rank of an Archpriest without a request from the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese and a written permission from H. H. the Patriarch. He should be an ordained priest for at least fifteen years with no blemish or severe punishment against him. There shall be no more than one Archpriest in one city.
Article 120. He who is under the age of 16, may not be ordained as Sub-deacon. Likewise, a person who is below the age of twenty may not be ordained as Deacon. To be ordained as Deacon, one must have gone through the lower ranks of : Chanter, Reader and Sub-deacon.
Article 121. No one is to be ordained Archdeacon (ܐܪܟܕܝܩܘܢ) before reaching the age of forty, and known for his good conduct, religious knowledge, and church rites. There shall be one Archdeacon only per Archdiocese.
Article 122. No Deaconess (ܡܫܡܫܢܝܬܐ) is ordained as Chanter (ܡܙܡܪܢܝܬܐ) before reaching fifteen years of age.
Article 123. A clergyman who strays from church and follows another denomination, then later repents and returns to its bosom, shall not be promoted above the rank which he had at the time of his stray regardless of his qualifications. Likewise, he who has been chastised with severe ecclesiastical punishments shall not be promoted.
Article 124. If a cleric (ܩܠܝܪܝܩܝܐ) from another church joins this church, he is not to be elevated above the rank he holds unless approved by H. H. the Patriarch.
Article 125. H. H. The Patriarch wears purple cloth and a black robe with purple hems. He also wears a cross and two icons on his chest, the monastic hood (آܐܣܟܝܡܐ) and the turban (ܟܰܠܳܘܐ ܩܰܘܘܓ) on his head.
Article 126. The Metropolitan wears purple or black cloth with red hems and buttons, and a black robe with purple hems. He also wears a cross and one icon on his chest, the monastic hood and the turban on his head.
A- The Archpriest wears a violet girdle, a black robe with violet hems, a black cloth with purple buttons, a black hat and a black skull-cap (ܦܝܪܐ) on his head.
B- If H. H. the Patriarch awards an archpriest ( by a recommendation from his Metropolitan ) with a cross, he should wear it only when he represents the Archdiocese Metropolitan at official functions, and on the Lord’s Holidays.
Article 128. The Priest wears a black cloth and robe, a black hat or a black skull-cap on his head.
Article 129. The Monk wears a black cloth and robe, a monastic hood on his head and a black hat. If awarded a cross by H.H, he shall wear it only on official occasions and Lord’s Holidays.
Article 130. No one is allowed to alter any of the church clerical vestments at all.
Article 131. The clergy are permitted to wear special attire according to rules and customs of the clergy in the country they serve in. However, growing beard is necessary for clergy in general.
Article 132. The monastic vows are: celibacy (chastity), obedience and voluntary poverty. All pursuers of monastic life, from both genders, must be bound by.
Article 133. The seeker of monasticism must have good conduct and reputation. He shall not wear the monastic habit until after a probation period.
Article 134. No one under the age of twenty shall wear the monastic habit.
Article 135. A monk who is a beginner shall dress according to the code in article 129 of this Constitution.
Article 136. A nun wears a monastic hood and a habit according to the rules of her location.
Article 137. H. H. the Patriarch is the Supreme Head of all monasteries and monastic centers of both genders. He is the one who appoints and dismisses their abbots. Moreover, he transfers monks and nuns from one monastery to another and from one center to another, with the knowledge of the monastery’s Abbott. No monastery shall be established without permission from H.H the Patriarch.
Article 138. No monk shall travel from one region to another without a written permission from H. H. the Patriarch.
Article 139. Every monastery or monastic order has its own internal regulations, approved by H. H. the Patriarch, and observed by all who will join, males or females.
Prayer and the Sacraments
Article 140. Prayer is a religious duty for all believers, male and female, in the morning and evening. One station (ܩܘܡܐ) of prayer includes the Trisagion (ܩܕܝܫܬ ܐܠܗܐ) and the Lord’s Prayer. Also, prayer is usually concluded by reciting the Creed (ةحوما دؤيمنوةا) of faith and the Angelic Salutation (ܫܠܡܐ ܡܠܐܟܝܐ). Whereas, Syriac is the liturgical language in the Syrian Antiochian Church. Local language in conjunction may be used.
Article 141. The clergy, with all their different ranks, must say the canonical prayers including the common daily (ܫܚܝܡܐ) prayer in the morning and evening, and whoever neglects this, without an acceptable excuse, falls into iniquity.
Article 142. All clergy shall submit to the lawful Sacrament of Confession before the legitimate Priest.
Article 143. Adult believers, men and women, should confess and receive the Holy Communion at least twice a year. This is also required from the Godparent, at baptism, and from couples to be married prior to the wedding ceremony.
Article 144. A priest is permitted to perform two Masses on one day, at the same church, on the same altar after he replaces the tablitho (ܛܒܠܝܬܐ). This is done for the sake of the growth of the church.
Article 145. The Archdiocese Metropolitan has the right to permit the believers to partake of the Holy Sacraments after a public confession and the receiving of absolution, provided that they fast at least three hours prior to receiving the Communion.
Article 146. Among the graces of God granted to the church, are the Seven Sacraments. They are: Baptism, Chrism (Confirmation), Repentance and Confession, Holy Communion, Priesthood, Matrimony and Anointment of the sick. Metropolitans and priests must urge believers to practice these Holy Sacraments and encourage them to exercise the Sacrament of Anointment the sick when necessary.
The Sacrament of Matrimony
a) In the Syrian Orthodox Church, Matrimony is a Holy Sacrament and a lawful bond between a Syrian Orthodox man and woman. It is concluded by the designated Priest who blesses the wedding in the presence of righteous Christian witnesses.
b) The Personal Status Code of the Syrian Orthodox church is to be implemented in cases of betrothal, marriage, conflicts between couples, and all matters relating to alimonies, separations, marriage annulments, and divorces.
c) Every Archdiocese must have a Preliminary Spiritual Court headed by the Metropolitan.
d) All verdicts rendered by the Preliminary Spiritual Court are appeal able to the Spiritual Appeal Court convened at the Patriarchal Headquarters.
e) H.H the Patriarch nominates the members of the Spiritual Appeal Court. It will be headed by a Metropolitan, and two priests as members.
f) All verdicts rendered by the Preliminary or Appeal Spiritual Courts relating to divorce or annulment are not executable without the consent of H.H the Patriarch.
g) H.H the Patriarch has the right to repeal the unlawful verdicts, or verdicts he did not consent to, related to divorce or marriage annulment, and order a new trial.
h) H.H the Patriarch has the right to assign an inspector to examine irregularities at the Preliminary Spiritual Courts in the Archdioceses, and the Spiritual Appeal Court at the Patriarchate.
Article 148. It is permitted to perform a wedding if one of the two parties is a non-Syrian Orthodox Christian.
Article 149. It is forbidden to perform a wedding or bless a matrimonial ceremony during the fasts of : Christmas, Nineva, the first and last weeks of the Great Lent and all the other fasts. However, only the Archdiocese Metropolitan has the right to permit the performance of marriage ceremonies during the fast of the Apostles and that of the Virgin Mary, and in urgent cases.
Sunday and Holidays
Article 150. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) should be observed. So should the following Lord’s (ܥܐܕ̈ܐ ܡܪ̈ܢܝܐ) Holidays: Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Presentation in the Temple & Simon the Elder, Annunciation, Easter, Ascension, Transfiguration and that of the Cross. Likewise, holidays of the Virgin Lady and of the Saints which the church decreed should be observed. Moreover, the Metropolitan of an Archdiocese has the right to move some of the non-Lord’s (ܥܐܕ̈ܐ ܡܪ̈ܢܝܐ) and the minor (ܥܐܕ̈ܐ ܡܪ̈ܢܝܐ ܙܥܘܪ̈ܐ) Lord’s Holidays to other convenient days.
Article 151. The Apostolic see of the Syrian orthodox church of Antioch is the sole heir of all properties left by a deceased Patriarch, be it movable or immovable. His kindred or any other person or persons shall have no right to claim any of these properties. Any claim to any such properties shall be null and void.
Article 152. The possessions of a Metropolitan must be identified and defined at the time of his ordination. A Metropolitan may dispose of his own properties only. He may not dispose of the properties and possessions of the Archdiocese or the Archdiocese headquarters. Any properties acquired shall be divided equally, after his death, between the Patriarchate and the Archdiocese. As for the Bishop who has children, the movable assets shall be divided equally between his children and the Patriarchate. Consideration should be given to this item if the will of the deceased is in contradiction.
Article 153. Before his ordination, a Metropolitan shall pledge, by signing a document certified by a Notary Public, that all his possessions no matter where they are, will be the property of the Archdiocese and the Patriarchate, after his death, divided equally. No one under any circumstances shall have the right to claim any of his properties and possessions. There shall be no heir to him except the Church. This also applies to retired Metropolitans. However, any retired Metropolitan without Archdiocese, his inheritance shall be divided between the Patriarchate and the monastery he studied at, or lived in, as Bishop or Monk.
Article 154. If a monk dies, all that he owns shall be inherited by his monastery or by the honorable Patriarchate.
Article 155. The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch owns all its churches, monasteries, worship places, cemeteries, schools, real estate and endowments. This includes all the possessions and properties of its churches and centers such as manuscripts, printed books, vessels, clerical vests, furniture of the Patriarchate and the Archdioceses. The ownership of these properties and assets can never be disputed or contested by any body whatsoever. If an individual or a group of individuals separates from the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and joins another denomination, they shall have absolutely no right to claim any of the above mentioned properties or possessions. Any claim filed by anybody, be it an individual or a group, large or small, shall be positively and absolutely mull and void.
Article 156. The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch has a special dress code for its patriarchs, Metropolitans and the rest of its clergy as defined in chapter nine of this Constitution. Therefore, if an individual or a group of individuals from the clergy decides to separate and join an alien denomination, they will have no right to use the above-mentioned dress code anymore.
Article 157. Any article that contradicts with the provisions of this Constitution will be considered invalid null and void.
Article 158. This constitution will be in force as of the date of its legalization and publication by H.H. the Patriarch.
Damascus: September 26th, 1998
We hereby sanction this Constitution
Patriarch Ignatius Zaka I
Disclaimer: This document has been published for educational purpose without any commercial interest
Image: HH Patriarch Ignatius Zaka I