Prof. Efrem Yildiz (Salamanca), Dr. Naures Atto (Cambridge) and Prof. Aho Shemunkasho (Salzburg) attended a conferensce at the University of Leuven in Belgium December 7, 2016, talking about the Assyrians.
During his speach, titled ”The Aramaic Speaking Christians in Mesopotamia: History, Identity, and Diaspora”, Prof. Efrem Yildiz said :
– Today, the Assyrians live in the diaspora, split into rivaling ecclesiastical branches and political factions. Depending on which region they come from, their identities have changed accordingly. […]
Depending on the Church leaders different attempts were made to unify on behalf of both ChaldoAssyrian groups. The last attempt was undertaken by Mar Dinha IV and Mar Raphael I Bedawid, who signed the unification letter in 1994. In an interview with the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, Mar Raphael I25 says: “I personally think that these names serve to add confusion. The original name of our Church was the ‘Church of the East’ […] The name ‘Chaldean’ does not represent an ethnicity… We have to separate what is ethnicity and what is religion… I myself, my sect is Chaldean, but ethnically, I am Assyrian”. After he passed away, Mar Emmanuel Dally was elected to a patriarchal seat. He didn’t really sympathise with the former’s declaration. After this last one Mar Luis Sako occupied the throne of Chaldean Church. Also the Patriarch of the Church of the East passed away and his Beatitude Luis Sakos’ intentions were to unify both branches under his name but as the members of the Assyrian church of the East did not agree with his plans, he started undertaking a project of creating a Chaldean league with the aim of establishing a nation totally separated from the so called Chaldo-Assyrian nation, with its own constitution and flag. In a lecture given in Sarcelles to the Chaldo-Assyrian community he clearly insisted on being different and separate peoples. Cultivating and enforcing such initiatives destroy any hope of unification under one national name.
This same phenomenon happened within the name “Aramean” that was introduced by an Assyrian, member and Bishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Julius Hanna Aydin because of some internal discussions between him and some other Assyrians that were studying in Germany. He shifted from Assyrian to Aramean because of a personal discussion that lead him creating a new name “Aramäer” “Oromoye” that many members of the Syriac Orthodox Church adopted as a national name and separated them again in 1983/84.
The speech of Dr. Naures Atto was titled: ”Diaspora Suryoye Negotiating Their Survival: Between Church, Nation, Local and Global” and that of Aho Shemunkasho was titled ”Syriac Theological Training in the West in the Process of Integration and Transformation”.
Interviews in Surayt follows with Prof. Yildiz and Shemunkasho.