Communion of the Church of the East
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Church of the East
|Communion of the Church of the East|
Religion of Light
Chaldean Syrian Church
Church of the East in Arakan, Burma and Tenasserim
School of Samarqand
Monastery of Mar Toma
The Communion of the Church in the East is a loose association of related Christian churches centred around the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East.
The wider communion, however, includes not only the Assyrian Church, but also several other churches with broadly similar theology and background. The Communion is vastly larger and more influential than its counterparts *here*, as it includes several churches that either never existed *here*, or have become extinct or considerably smaller than they were at their greatest extent. *There*, it is a point of dispute as to whether the Eastern Orthodox Church communion or the Communion of the Church of the East is the larger body, and hence the second-largest Christian denomination after Catholicism. Most observers place the Church of the East a fraction behind the Eastern Orthodox communion in terms of adherents. In terms of geographical spread, however, the Church of the East is usually placed ahead of the Orthodox communion.
Churches recognised as members of the Communion of the Church in the East include:
- The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, primarily in Persia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
- The Holy Apostolic Chaldean Syrian Church of the East in India.
- The Holy Church of the Luminous Religion from Daqin, mostly in the Chinas.
- The Holy Apostolic Church of the East in Bornei, based in Bornei-Filipinas but extending into other parts of Southeast Asia (e.g., Atjeh).
- The Holy Apostolic Church of the East in Arakan, Burma and Tenasserim, closely connected with both the Chaldean Syrian Church and the Borneian Church.
Each of these churches is headed by a patriarch who is the nominal equivalent of the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (head of the Assyrian Church), but as Catholicos, the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon is considered to hold the highest seniority. It must be stressed, however, that the Assyrian Patriarch's "seniority" implies no positional authority over the other patriarchs in the way that the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has an elevated position with regard to the other patriarchs of that communion. The catholicos may speak as an elder brother, but the other patriarchs are under no obligation even to listen. Frequently, the churches of the Communion of the Church in the East chart their own courses, owing no debt to each other, saving only the continuing debt of love owed to all who follow the Christ.
The member churches do, however, officially recognise the validity of each others' liturgies and sacerdotal appointments, with the result that a priest of the Chaldean Syrian Church is recognised as a priest if he should find himself in, for example, Bornei-Filipinas where the Chaldean Church of India has no real foothold.
The headquarters of the various Churches of the East are as follows:
- Seleucia-Ctesiphon (on the outskirts of Baghdaad): Catholicos - Patriarch of the Assyrian Church
- Mahe (French colony in Maisur): Patriarch of the Chaldean Syrian Church]
- Xi'an (Beihanguo): Patriarch of the Religion of Light
- Quinabatañgan (northern Bornei): Majaguru - Patriarch of the Borneian Church
- Akyab (Arakan): Patriarch of Arakan, Burma and Tenasserim