Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East joins CTE

Welcome to our newest national Member Church - ACOTE - which joins the Orthodox 'family'

Our newest CTE national Member Church is one of the most ancient in the world.

Following approval from its Member Churches, CTE welcomed into membership the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East (ACOTE). This is small church at present, with its members drawn largely from the Iraqi community. Following the upheavals in Iraq, it is widely distributed throughout the world, and is a community that knows intimately what it is to be the suffering church. The community of Iraqis in this Church (that is a part of the Orthodox family in CTE) living in England are currently concentrated in London and Kent, but there are also groups in the Midlands.

The episcopal oversight of the Assyrian Catholic (Orthodox) Church in Europe has for 26 years been provided by one Metropolitan, but since 2019, a second bishop has been appointed, with his base in London, Mar Awraham. He is an Iraqi, whose family left Basra before the Kuwaiti invasion, and he has grown up in Australia, where he was very involved ecumenically. He brings that commitment to his new role in the second Diocese of Europe (Great Britain and Western Europe). Globally there are 17 bishops, including those in the United States.

In essence it is the continuation of the ancient church of the Persian Empire, which fell out of communion with the rest of the Christian world for political and theological reasons in the 5th century. At its height, it had 250 dioceses in the 13th century, from Cyprus to Manchuria, and from Turkestan to Kerala and Java, representing the most impressive missionary endeavour for the first 1500 years of the church, although it was almost annihilated in the 14th century as the Mongols were converted to Islam. In the 16th century a group of its members affiliated to Rome, giving rise to the Chaldean Church, while in India they were attached to the west Syrian Church, which belongs to the opposing Christological tradition. The events of the 20th century decimated its membership, and it is now a significant church-in-exile. It joined the WCC in 1950, and the Middle East Council of Churches in 1995.

Dialogue with its offspring, the Chaldean Catholic Church (in communion with Rome) has led to greater co-operation between these two main churches of Iraq, and in the USA they share a theological institute and pastoral co-operation, while there are continuing conversations with the aim of restoring full communion between them. In addition, there is dialogue with Rome.

Bishop Mar Awraham hopes to play a very full part in the ecumenical life of CTE, and to build relations with its member churches, both Orthodox and others.

Visit the Assyrian Church of the East Diocese of Western Europe website