News Analysis: Amid suspension of Catholic Church aid activities in Tigray, Inter Religious Council to issue a nationwide call for prayer

The Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia to issue a nationwide call to prayer on Thursday. Photo : Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia Facebook

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba, August 31/2021 –  The Spokesperson for the Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE), Fasika Tesfaye told Addis Standard, “The council is preparing to issue its call on Thursday and each religious institution has the mandate to issue a call to its followers so there is no conflict of interest.” The spokesperson explained that the call will ask followers of different religions to pray for peace in the country and will last from September 06 to September 10, 2021.  

However, yesterday, reports that Ethiopia’s major religious institutions were preparing to issue separate calls for national prayer surfaced among local media. Addis Maleda, a local Amharic Language outlet, reported that the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council has called on all Muslims to perform Du’a (Prayer) and Sadaqah (Charity) throughout all mosques in the country, starting August 31, 2021 with the aim to overcome what it described as “the national challenge we face from outside and inside.”

The report quoted Grand Mufti Hajj Omar Idris as saying, “Let’s pray and give so that dangers that are facing Ethiopia disappear.” The Grand Mufti called on all the Imams and Muezzins and all concerned people to pray for peace to prevail in the country.

The Ethiopian Catholic Church on its part has called its parishioners to pray for their country. The church urged the followers to pray for peace while adhering to Covid-19 safety guidelines. The Catholic Church ‘temporarily suspended’ the emergency response intervention in Tigray following the current tension in the northern area of the country.

The Spokesperson for the Inter Religious Council of Ethiopia (IRCE), Fasika Tesfaye told Addis Standard, “The council is preparing to issue its call on Thursday and each religious institution has the mandate to issue a call to its followers so there is no conflict of interest.”

The delegates of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) delivered a solidarity message to Cardinal Berhaneyesus, Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia, concerning the current situations in Ethiopia.    

According to the Catholic Church Secretariat official facebook page statement, Cardinal Berhaneyesus explained to AMECEA delegates about all the efforts the church has attempted to bring reconciliation and peace among different parties thereby bridging the gap among these parties to help compromise with multifaceted self-interests in the country.

The delegates met Rev.Fr.Gabriel, Deputy Secretary General of the General Secretariat who briefed, “Many lives lost, displaced, public, Church and private assets have been destroyed and looted. The conflict between the Administration of the Tigray Regional State and the Federal Government of Ethiopia put the lives of many people and families into tragedy. All the efforts to bring peace and reconciliation by the Inter Religious Conference of Ethiopia (IRCE) in collaboration with the Elders of the country and Traditional Public representatives have not been acknowledged and the unwanted and un-avoidable war broke out last November.’’

The statement detailed, “Catholic Church always urges the options of peace not by war but by dialogue and she believes and stands for it as the option for dialogue will never be closed nor be late. The Catholic Church calls for all parties frequently to stop the war immediately and resolve differences in dialogues. The Church also is calling the faithful and all people of good will to be an instrument of peace.” It explained that the Church together with other religious institutions has been working in the areas of National Prayer Programs, Post disaster healing and peace building activities.

Catholic Church suspends humanitarian activities in Tigray

In a related development, the Catholic Church said it has suspended its humanitarian activities in the Tigray region. “The Church on its own and jointly with other religious organizations coordinated support from International Caritas Organizations, other local and International Partners and mobilized 1.5 million Euros to provide emergency responses for the conflict-affected people in various areas of the country. More than 75% of the raised fund is utilized to respond to the instabilities in the Tigray Regional State,” the Chirch said in a statement.

The Secretariat statement reads, “But at present the current tensions in the northern area of the country forces the church to suspend the emergency response intervention.” Addis Standard contacted the Catholic Church Secretariat for further explanation regarding the suspension of its humanitarian activities in Tigray. The Secretariat confirmed the information but said that the Church has only temporarily suspend its areas of emergency interventions in Tigray following the ongoing conflict in the northern area of the country.

Cardinal Berhaneyesus concluded that Ethiopia would overcome all the internal and external temporal challenges using her shared traditional religious values. The AMECEA delegates, on their part, assured that the association member countries would always be the Ethiopian people in prayers and also were willing to take an active part in peace building, reconciliations and rehabilitation processes. AS

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