the end of the eighteenth century the climate of opinion within the Syrian Orthodox Church began to shift, thanks to the efforts of Roman missionaries who won over a number of dignitaries and monasteries. Their major success was the conversion of the archbishop of Aleppo, Michael Jarweh, who with four other bishops declared union with Rome. He took advantage of the lengthy vacancy that followed the death of Patriarch George IV (1768-81) to have himself elected patriarch. Pope Pius VI (1775-99) sent Jarweh formal acceptance of the union in 1783. However, the Syrian Orthodox Church had already elected Patriarch Matthew (1782-1817), who was in control of the patriarchate in Mardîn when Jarweh and his party arrived. Hounded by both the Ottoman authorities and the Syrian Orthodox hierarchy, he fled to Baghdad and later to Mount Lebanon, where he died in 1800.15 The pro-union succession was preserved owing to the four other bishops who also joined the union with Rome, and continues to the present Catholic patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians.
With the help of missionaries, the Syrian Catholic Church gained adherents. The French, whose interests lay in Lebanon and Syria, pressured the Ottoman sultan into recognising the Syrian Catholic Church as a distinct millet in 1830. This move further disadvantaged the Syrian Orthodox Church, since it was still dependent on the Armenian patriarchate in Constantinople. Catholic missionary activity continued among the Syrian Orthodox. In 1882 an indigenous Catholic missionary order - the missionaries of St Ephrem - was founded at Mardîn. By the turn of the nineteenth century many Syrian Orthodox had become Catholic; estimates place the number between 60,000 and 65,000. The expansion of the Syrian Catholic Church came to an abrupt halt in 1915, 'the year of the sword'.
In the course of the nineteenth century the Syrian Catholic Church experienced a period of latinisation of its liturgy, governance and customs, a phenomenon that did not spare the other Near Eastern Catholic churches. For example, the Roman Church imposed celibacy on Syrian Catholic priests at the synod of Sharfeh (1888). A mixed clergy of married and celibate priests had been the norm in ancient Christianity and continues to be the case in the Orthodox churches, whereas the discipline of only celibate priests is peculiar to the Latin Church.
During the period of Ottoman massacres the Syrian Catholic Church possessed in the person of Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Rahmanî (1898-1929) one of
15 Pierre Chalfoun, 'L'Eglise syrienne catholique et son patriarche Michel Giavré sous la gouvernement ottoman au i8ème siècle', Parole de l'Orient 9 (1979-80), 205-38.
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