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News: Ethiopian Orthodox Church pledges to restore relations with church in Tigray, announces 20 million birr in humanitarian aid

His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the EOTC (Photo: EOTC)

Addis Abeba – The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) in Addis Abeba has concluded the annual Assembly of Priests summit where significant decisions were made to address the humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region, foster unity among Orthodox communities, support peace-building efforts, and address challenges in the Oromia region.

In a statement read by His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the EOTC on Wednesday, following the official conclusion on Monday of the assembly, the Synod said it has earmarked 20 million birr to provide essential support and relief to those affected by the two years war in the Tigray regional state. This pledge aims to alleviate the suffering of civilians and meet the immediate needs of their needs, according to the Synod.

Recognizing the strained spiritual and administrative ties with religious leaders in the region, the Synod also pledged to continue efforts to unify the Church and foster collaborations among Orthodox communities by strengthening ties. To that end the plenum instructed the group of envoys that was previously appointed by the Holy Synod to continue the activities the group started and to carry out the mission by contacting all the relevant government authorities. The envoy’s role will focus on facilitating dialogue, reconciliation, and rebuilding trust among different stakeholders, according to the Holy Synod.

It also authorized the release of the salary and operating budget of the employees of the Kessate Berhan Spiritual College of St. Fremantos Abba Selama in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, and to continue the normal learning and teaching process by accepting students in the 2024 fiscal year.

However, the statement, which comes in the backdrop of an announcement by the Leaders of the See of Selama Kessate Beharan Archdiocese of Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Tuesday, 23 May of their plans to ordain ten episcopate to dioceses inside Tigray and abroad, did not directly address the announcement.

The Synod had previously accused the religious leaders in the Tigray region of creating “a new illegal regional structure in a way that violates “the institutional unity and existing structural organization of our church.”

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With regard to the overall situation in the country, Holy Synod has announced the establishment of a dedicated Peace Committee that will play a crucial role in addressing the prevailing challenges and fostering peace across the country. This newly formed committee will actively promote dialogue, reconciliation, and harmony among different stakeholders, demonstrating the Synod’s dedication to promoting harmony and unity.

The Synod expressed its deep concern about the prevailing challenges in the Oromia region, the interruption of services in various churches and the imprisonment of several believers and members of the clergy. 

The Synod accepted that due to the current problems in various dioceses in Oromia region led to services to be suspended and has passed a decision to resolve the problems and return to the normal operating structure including restoring regular ecclesiastical orders.

To that end the Synod formed a committee to appoint nine episcopate to dioceses in Oromia region and the SNNP regional state where it said a significant and pressing problems regarding bishops exist. Additional appointments in dioceses where shortages are reported should be studied by the Patriarchate and presented to the Holy Synod, the statement said.

The upcoming appointment of the nine episcopate is in response to an appointment, without the involvement of the Holy Synod, of 26 bishops – 17 bishops for dioceses located in the Oromia region, and nine bishops for dioceses outside Oromia at a ceremony held in Haro Beale Wold Church which was led by His Holiness Abune Sawiros (PhD), Archbishop of South West Shoa Diocese, together with Archbishop Eustathius and Archbishop Zena Markos. AS

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