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Syriac Orthodox Church

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The Syriac Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Middle East with members spread throughout the world. It is one of the five churches that comprised what is now the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church before the Great Schism. It is a major inheritor of Syriac Christianity and has Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, as its official language. The church is led by the Syrian Patriarch of Antioch. The church is often referred to as Jacobite or Monophysite, but these terms are misleading, and not appreciated by the majority of the church today. In 2000, a Holy Synod ruled that the name of the church in English should be the Syriac Orthodox Church. Before this, it was, and often still is, known as the Syrian Orthodox Church. The name was changed to disassociate the church from the polity Syria. The official name of the church in Syriac is `Idto Suryoyto Trişuth Shuvħo, this name has not changed, nor has the name changed in any other language.

The Syriac Orthodox Church is held to be the first church of the Christianity established by the Apostle St. Peter in 34 AD.

The current head of the Syriac Orthodox Church is the Patriarch H.H. Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, who resides in Damascus, the capital of Syria. The Church has about 26 archdioceses and 11 Patriarchal Vicariates . Some estimate that the church has about four million members globally. The church in Malankara is an integral part of the Syriac Orthodox Church with the Patriarch of Antioch as its supreme head. The local head of the church in Malankara is the Catholicose of India, currently His Beatitude Baselios Thomas I , ordained by and accountable to the Patriarch of Antioch.

The Syrian orthodox divine liturgy is performed in Syriac.

Both it and the Chalcedonian Antiochian Orthodox Church claim to be the sole legitimate church of Antioch and successor of the Apostle St. Peter. There are also three uniate churces headed by Patriarchs of Antiocha: The Syrian Catholic Church, the Maronites and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. There is also an unrelated (so- called Nestorian) Assyrian Church of the East.

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