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News: Amidst loose relationship with Tigray Church, Orthodox Patriarch arrives in Mekelle for first time since war

His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church arriving in Mekelle (Picture: Tigray Tv)

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane

Addis Abeba – His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, arrived in Mekelle this morning at the Ra’s Alula Abanega International Airport to attend the funeral of His Holiness Abune Yohannes II, head of the St. Frumentius Aba Selama Kesate Berhan Seminary in the Tigray region, who passed away on Monday.

Upon arrival, His Holiness was welcomed by the Archbishop and the leadership of the Supreme Priesthood of the See of Selama Kessate Beharan, Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo Church, priests, Sunday School Youth and followers. 

The Patriarch’s travel to Tigray marks the first time since the two-year long war in Tigray erupted in November 2020. An agreement to cease hostilities signed between the Federal government and TPLF in Pretoria in November last year is holding.

It came only a week after the Tigray Orthodox Church Council of Bishops rejected the Synod’s earlier letters sent to five Archbishops in the Tigray regional state requesting for talks of “reconciliation.” 

Liqe Tiguhan Eskinder Gebrekiristos, Public Communication Directorate Head of the Holy Synod, told Addis Standard that His Holiness has traveled to Mekelle for a daylong trip, in accordance to a decision by the Holy Synod. And the only purpose of his travel is to attend the farewell ceremony of the late His Holiness Abune Yohannes II and comfort those who are grieving. 

Liqe Tiguhan further said that the Patriarch is to return to his seat this afternoon and he will not be privately discussing on the matter as that was addressed to the Holy Synod. He also refuted rumors speculating the Patriarch’s visit to Tigray with talks over the rift between the EOTC Synod and the Tigray Orthodox Church.

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His Holiness has been accompanied by members of delegations including Archbishops His Holiness Abune Tomas and His Holiness Abune Entons, according to the Synod’s Communication. 

His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the EOTC with His Holiness, the late Abune Yohannes (Photo EOTC TV)

According to his biography, the deceased, His Holiness Abune Yohannes was born on 28 April 1936 from his mother Zenebesh Woldemariam and his father, Alaka Hailu Woldemariam,in a district called Yeh Debre Hamelmal aka Mezbr in the Central zone, Adwa woreda in Tigray region.

He had been teaching at Kesate Berhan Selama Spiritual College and Debre Salam St. Michael Cathedral and serving as the administrator of Debre Salam St. Michael Cathedral for 22 years.

He had received various priesthood titles since 1948 and later he was elected by the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and appointed as bishop on July 29, 2005 by His Holiness Abune Paulos, the preceding patriarch of the EOTC.

Holiness Abune Yohannes II, who passed away yesterday at age 86 was the Supreme Patron of Abune Selama Kesate Berhan Theological College and Mekelle Debre Selam St. Michael Cathedral.  His Holiness Abune Yohannes II final resting will take place tomorrow.  AS

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