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News: Tigray religious leaders denounce excommunication by Orthodox Synod

Addis Abeba – Religious leaders of the Tigray Orthodox Church, See of Selama Kesate Birhan, denounced the decision taken by the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) in Addis Abeba yesterday excommunicating four archbishops in the Tigray region and their ten elected Archbishops for different dioceses. The Synod also labeled the appointment “a heretical practice.”

In response, the recently established Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church issued a statement released today firmly rejecting the decision and dismissing it as “hokum”. The statement said EOTC’s support for the war in the Tigray region, both financially and morally, undermines its moral authority to make such a ruling. The religious leaders asserted that this action will not bring about any meaningful change and urged the Holy Synod to reconsider its decision in order to uphold a positive relationship between the two churches. Otherwise, the Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church will take its own measures, according to the statement.

On 2 August, 2023, the Holy Synod in Addis Abeba convened an emergency meeting to address what it referred to as the “unlawful appointment” of nine bishops in the Tigray region. Following deliberations, a resolution was reached to excommunicate His Grace Abune Petros from the Shire Indaselassie Diocese, His Grace Abune Mekaryos from the Aksum Diocese, His Grace Abune Isaias, the Archbishop of Mekele Diocese, and His Grace Abune Merja Kristos from the Adigrat Diocese, while also revoking their clerical authority.

The Holy Synod has leveled accusations against four archbishops for their involvement in ordaining the nine episcopates among the ten nominees. According to EOTC, this act has not only betrayed Christians both in the country and abroad but is also seen as a departure from orthodox practices, indulging in “heresy”.

On 16 July, 2023, religious leaders from the Tigray Orthodox Church, See of Selama Kesate Berhan, elected nine new candidates for the position of Episcopates to lead dioceses within the Tigray region and other locations around the world, all under the umbrella of the Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church, See of Selama Kesate Birhan.

The Holy Synod has taken the decision to revoke the spiritual titles of nine recently appointed episcopates by the Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Additionally, they have been prohibited from performing any church services.

This decision also applies to Tigrayan Orthodox priest Aba Serekebirhan Woldesamuel, who is a Tigrayan native and a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) based in Australia. The EOTC accused Aba Serekebirhan of facilitating the election of the nine bishops.

The Holy Synod in Addis Abeba has vehemently opposed the decision made by the religious leader of the Tigray Orthodox Church, going so far as to issue a warning that legal action will be taken to prevent the implementation of this move.

In a recent cautionary statement, Abune Abraham, the General Manager of the Patriarchate of EOTC and the Archbishop of Bahir Dar Diocese, issued a warning on July 20, 2023. He expressed deep concern regarding the readiness of bishops in the Tigray region to deviate from the established canons of the church, which is deemed inappropriate and in violation of the church’s constitution. Abune Abraham emphasized the need to avoid such actions and maintain adherence to the established principles of the church. AS

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