The Syriac Rite Catholics of Mosul now have a new archbishop, consecrated on February 3, 2023 in Al Tahira Church in Qaraqosh (northern Iraq). He is a prelate who will have to create unity in his Church, work to combat the ideology – still alive – of the Islamic State (IS) organization and promote relations with the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Younan Hano is a young archbishop. Born in Qaraqosh, Iraq, on September 10, 1982, after completing nursing studies, the future prelate entered the seminary, first in Baghdad then in Lebanon, where he obtained a baccalaureate degree in philosophy and theology at the University of the Holy Spirit.
After his priestly ordination on June 29, 2011, he was incardinated in the Syrian Archieparchy of Mosul, where he successively served as vicar at the Mar Jacob parish in Qaraqosh, special secretary to the archbishop, then vicar for the displaced Syrians in Erbil, after the invasion of the Nineveh Plain by IS fighters.
On January 7, 2023, the Sovereign Pontiff confirmed his election as Bishop of Mosul, carried out by the synod of bishops of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the Syrians, paving the way for his episcopal ordination on the following February 3.
It was an election that was not without surprise because on two occasions the candidate chosen by the Syrian-Catholic patriarchate was not confirmed by the Pope.
The new Archbishop of Mosul knows that he has his work cut out for him with regards to the Syrian-Catholic Church of which he is a member, which is deeply disunited due to internal fractures; but also in relation to the temptation to continue the exodus, to which ever more numerous young people succumb.
For Yohanna Towaya, who heads an NGO active in the region, the Syrian-Catholic Church “has been in hibernation for ten years in the plain of Nineveh,” and “the new archbishop will have to re-establish relations with the other Christian Churches (numbering six in Iraq) and train new clergy.”
The Syriac Church is actually the Church of Antioch, established by the first pope, St. Peter. It is actually the result of the 18th century partition with the Orthodox. It was in 1783 that a real synodal election took place, resulting in the valid appointment of a Syriac Catholic patriarch recognized by Rome.
The Syriac Catholic Patriarchate is in Beirut, Lebanon, but most of the Syrian Catholic faithful live in Iraq, where they number around 42,000. In Syria, there are 26,000 and there are 55,000 in the diaspora.