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Timothaus Mar Shallita Youwala (*1936) is Archbishop of the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East for Germany and all Europe. He currently resides in Mainz-Kastel, Germany.
The Life of Timothaus Mar Shallita YouwalaArchbishop Timothaus Mar Shallita Youwala was born July 14, 1936 in Barwar Bala, Iraq in the village of Galja where the church of Mar Kejoma is situated. Many bishops of the Mar Youalla family, which has served the Assyrian church for over four hundred years, have emerged therefrom. He was consecrated Deacon September 3, 1954 in the village of Harere, Iraq, by Archbishop Mar Joseph Chnanisho, the uncle of Patriarch Mar Shimun. As a reaction to the division of the church in 1957, Assyrians from all over Iraq came together in Mosul (Ninveh) to elect Timothaus Mar Shallita as Archbishop for Iraq. They denied consecration by Patriarch Mar Shimun, yet they advocated a union between Assyrians and Syrians. Consequently, Timothaus Mar Shallita was consecrated Archbishop in the church St. Petrus and Paulus in Beirut, Lebanon, by Patriarch Mar Ignatius Jacup III on October 23 1958. Participants to the ceremony were Archbishop Mar Paulus from Iraq, Archbishop Bahnnan from Lebanon, Bishop Paulus from Jerusalem and the current Patriarch for the Syrian-Orthodox Church Zaki Iwaz I, a former secretary and monk. Over 2000 guests attended the consecration, Camille Chamoun, the president of Lebanon, being one of them.
Timothaus Mar Shallita returned from Lebanon to Iraq in 1958. At that time, King Faissal II had been murdered by General Kassim and the former monarchy called itself a republic. He met with General Kassim, who had taken over power and had also murdered the Prime Minister Nuri-Es-Said, to demand freedom of speech and press. Furthermore, the archbishop gave a speech in Assyrian and Arabian language on Radio and Television Baghdad.
From Baghdad he headed for Barwar-Bala, a district in northern Iraq which is heavily inhabited by Assyrians. Three years later, the gory conflict between the Kurds and the government began, which caused Timothaus Mar Shallita to leave the country to Damaskus. There he met Patriarch Mar Ignatius III, who contacted the World Council of Churches in Geneva on his behalf. Almost immediately, representatives of the Protestant Church in Germany invited the Archbishop to come to Darmstadt. There he arrived in 1967 and attended evening school to learn German. Later, Mar Ignatius III appointed him Archbishop for Germany and Europe for Assyrians and Syrians. This entailed the foundation of new Assyrian communities in Europe. An example is the opening of the St. Georges church in Joenkopings, Sweden, where Timothaus Mar Shallita attended the opening ceremony. Furthermore, he has consecrated an Archpriest, Khoshaba M. Georges, in London and a priest, Jacob Warda, in Denmark, a priest, Oz Sabri, in Marseilles along with eleven deacons all over Europe. On June 8, 1997 the cornerstone ceremony for the church Mar Shallita in Los Angeles took place. President Emanuel Bet Maleck, Sarkis Mikkael Fard, Mr. David S. Younan and the whole community of Los Angeles were attending this joyful ceremony.
At the time when Archbishop Timothaus Mar Shallita was consecrated, there was only a small division. But today, a huge split has emerged, caused by the fact that two patriarchs claim to lead one Assyrian church and people. Nevertheless, Timothaus Mar Shallita, who disapproves of the division into two parts, has tried to unite the church and the people by negotiating with both Patriarchs. Obviously, this is a difficult undertaking.
For many years Assyrian refugees have been writing to Timothaus Mar Shallita in search for help from persecution. In 1978, the archbishop lived in the monastery of Pandely in Greece for a few months where he supported about 8000 Assyrians who had fled to Greece with the help of the United Nations and the Red Cross. He had talked to the Greek government beforehand in order to arrange possible housing and working places for the refugees, who not only fled from Iraq but also from Iran, Lebanon and Syria.
In 1983 he headed to Italy, again to support the approximately 2000 refugees and to improve their situation. Thereafter, he went to France to continue his mission. In 1991 he arrived in Turkey to visit the ten Assyrian refugees camps accompanied by staff members of the UNHCR. Silopi was one of these camps. Before his arrival, Timothaus Mar Shallita had received a list with the name of over 40000 refugees, asking him for help. While visiting all of the camps, he informed himself about their situation. Afterwards, he talked to the Turkish administration and succeeded in gathering the Assyrian refugees into two camps instead of ten and also insisting on accommodation in houses and no longer in tents for he worried about the health and the lives of the weaker and older refugees as the harsh East Anatolian winter was not far away.
After this problem was solved, he started negotiations with the ambassadors of many nations. Months before his travel to Turkey, Timothaus Mar Shallita had already informed them about the situation of the Assyrians including the Chaldeans by introducing for the first time this ethnic minority, for most countries did not know that the Assyrians still existed. In these negotiations, he achieved that many embassies admitted the Assyrians as refugees to their countries.
Diversity between the Assyrians
When interviewing the Archbishop about the future of the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, he said:
"Today, Assyrians are spread all over the world. Some of the religious leaders are not obeying the law of our church, some of them don't even know it. Several Assyrian clergymen, who were elected as heads of their parishes, deliberately disobey those laws and conduct the church for their own benefit but certainly not after the laws which the father's of our church have acquired in troublesome intellectual and religious efforts. Those rules and rights are the foundation for the future of the Assyrian church which once reached up to China and India. All of them were men of high spirituality, profound belief, extraordinary theological knowledge and intelligence above average. Those clergymen who have ignored the laws over all these years, destroyed this foundation and risked the future of our church. None of the divided groups can speak for all Assyrians, yet all of them claim to be "the Assyrians". They dream of an independent country with their own administration and the right of self-determination in a sector of their homeland Mesopotamia.
According to Archbishop Timothaus Mar Shallita, it won't be possible for the Assyrians to stand up for their own rights in unity as long as there are two patriarchs for one nation with the mother language Aramaic.
- Verena Fehlmann-Meyer "Church of the East in Europe and America"
- Writings by Prof. Dr. Donart and Dr. Transchuk
- Summaries by Sabine Juli