Oromia regional state acting president Shimelis Abdisa showed up during an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod of Ethiopian Orthodox Church. He reportedly humbled himself before the Holy fathers and told them that government does not have interest to divide the Ethiopian church.
September 5, 2019
The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church started its emergency meeting on Thursday in the capital Addis Ababa. About thirty archbishops are attending the meeting.
Killings of priests and burning of churches, among other things have become very common in recent years – but the government does not seem to address the challenge.
And the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church seems to understand these attacks as a sort of putting pressure -and it is one of the top two agenda items in the Holy Synod emergency meeting, as reported by VOA Amharic service on Thursday citing Kesis Solomon Tolcha who is head of Gospel service in the Ethiopian church patriarchate.
A new movement to establish an ethnic Oromo patriarchate in the Oromo region of Ethiopia whose leaders have given a deadline to the Holy Synod to respond to their demand is another top agenda in the meeting. The pretext for the move to split up from Ethiopian Orthodox Church is weakening of church service in the region due to shortage of priests and deacons capable of offering the service on the Oromo language.
The Holy Synod, while recognizing the problem and it is also diligently acting on it, the move to establish an ethnic-based church is against the dogma of the Ethiopian church.
Leaders of the movement for an ethnic Oromo orthodox church were not part of the meeting on the first day but they will be called to it on Friday – seemingly to elaborate their position.
President of Oromo regional state, Shimeles Abdissa, came to the Holy Synod meeting around 11:00 a.m. local time. The representative of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Deacon Daniel Kibret, has arrived at the meeting at the same time, as reported by VOA Amharic.
In a meeting with these officials, members of the Holy Synod highlighted the versatile contribution of the Ethiopian Church in Ethiopian history and the existing unfair pressure that are negatively impacting the church’s services to its followers including restrictions in religious spaces for major Holiday celebration and in the institutions of higher learning, among others. Members of the Holy Synod also told Oromo region president that the pressure is more serious in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
According to the VOA report, Shimelis Abdisa told the Ethiopian Orthodox Church fathers that he has been to his position only for five months and that he is not aware of many of the problems. He also reportedly said that he does not want the church to experience administrative pressure and/or discrimination as “governments recognize the contribution of the church in development and also in the history of Ethiopia.” As part of a move to tackle the problem, he proposed for the Holy Synod to assign someone to work with his regional state so as to sort out and fix problems. The Holy Synod accepted the proposal and assigned Abune Nathanael, who is currently archbishop of Wollega, Nekemte, Horo Guduru, and East Wollega, to work with Oromo regional government in the direction of tackling challenges for the church in the region.
With regard to the question of establishing an ethnic Oromo church, Shimeles Abdissa reportedly said that nothing will happen without the recognition of the Holy Synod and the Ethiopian church.
Followers of the Ethiopian church who are discussing the matter on social media are however cautioning the Ethiopian church to take the words of Shimelis Abdisa because of the excessive influence of radical Oromo ethnic nationalists on Oromo regional administration and on the Federal government to some extent.
The Holy Synod is expected to be complete the meeting on Friday and will issue a statement to disclose resolutions.
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