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News: Holy Synod criticizes National Dialogue Commission for exclusion, calls for Church's 'formal' participation

The bi-annual Holy Synod Plenary Session, which commenced on 29 May, 2024, concluded today (Photo: EOTC TV)

Addis Abeba – The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) has expressed reservations regarding the recent conduct of the National Dialogue Commission. 

The Synod noted that the Commission has advanced its efforts without “formally inviting” the Church to participate.

In a statement issued following the conclusion of its bi-annual Holy Synod Plenary Session on June 6, 2024, the Synod acknowledged that the National Dialogue Commission was established with the intent of involving stakeholders to address national issues through dialogue and discussion, as stipulated by the founding proclamation.

However, the statement continued, “The Holy Synod has expressed concerns that the Commission has proceeded with its activities, including selecting participants and setting the agenda, without issuing a formal invitation for participation to the Church, which has historically played a crucial role in peacebuilding and reconciliation since the establishment of the nation.”

In light of this, the Holy Synod underscored the importance of “securing the Church’s right to participate and contribute its agenda through discussions” with the National Dialogue Commission.

The Synod further announced the establishment of a committee dedicated to pursuing a formal role for the church within the Commission’s proceedings.

The statement from the Holy Synod was issued two days after the National Dialogue Commission announced the completion of a week of consultations in Addis Abeba.

These consultations aimed to gather proposed agendas from various groups across the capital’s 119 districts, including community representatives, government bodies, political parties, and associations.

Chief Commissioner Mesfin Araya stated on Tuesday that the agendas from Addis Abeba would contribute to broader national dialogues following similar regional consultations.

The National Dialogue Commission’s efforts have, however, been met with calls for the inclusion of additional key stakeholders, particularly armed groups currently engaged in conflict with the government.

Two opposition parties, the Enat Party and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), have already announced their withdrawal from the process after initially agreeing to participate and submitting agendas. 

The Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council has also issued a cautionary statement, emphasizing the potential for the dialogue to fail in the absence of comprehensive stakeholder involvement.

Beyond the specific concerns regarding the National Dialogue Commission, the Holy Synod’s statement issued a broader call for nationwide conflict resolution through dialogue.

The statement expressed the Holy Synod’s deep sorrow “by the continued loss of lives and destruction of property due to the conflicts, disagreements, and violence occurring throughout our country.”

The statement further emphasized the importance of establishing a “constructive working relationship between the Holy Church and the government under the leadership of the Holy Patriarch.” 

In his speech at the commencement of the bi-annual session last week, Patriarch Abune Mathias I remarked that “love for appointment” and “materialism have reigned” within the ancient Church, which he described as facing “a serious challenge” from both internal and external factors.

“The suffering of the Church is not only from the outside but also from the inside; not only from aliens but also from friends,” the Patriarch cautioned, adding that powerful words counter to the religion’s spiritual culture are being used irresponsibly, intending to “reduce our voice and influence.” AS

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