Ethiopian Church continues to face threats, says Abune Mathias

October 22, 2019

Ethiopian Orthodox Church continues to face attacks and threats, its Patriarch Abune Mathias said on Wednesday when opening the annual Holy Synod session in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Foreign intervention and corrupt elements from domestically have made it the task of protecting Ethiopian church laity very challenging, he said according to a report by DW Amharic.

He made a reference to what he called external forces who are dividing Ethiopians by spending money on it. Lack of structural improvement, internally, is also cited as a challenge.

The problem that the Ethiopian church has been experiencing in terms of the burning down churches and killing priests is not eliminated. “The threat hovering upon the Ethiopian church followers is still there,” said the Patriarch, as cited by DW Amharic.

Landholdings that have been under the Ethiopian church are being taken away by groups who are using government power.  Government officials working in the lower levels of government (seemingly a reference to zone level land district level structures) are linked to the problem that the church is facing. Such a practice has been criticized as one that violates the constitutional right of freedom to worship but senior government officials have been unable to act decisively on it other than giving lip service.

Followers of the church are leaving their homes behind due to incessant pressure from hostile groups.

The patriarch determined the situation based on reports he received from dioceses across the country. When Ethiopian church leaders held a meeting in September of this year, it was specifically mentioned that the problem was more prevalent in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.   But this time it was not specified as to where the problem is more serious although Ethiopian church has generally faced hostility in different regions due to narrative painted about it since the aftermath Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) take over of power in 1991.   

“How long can such an inhuman act continue?” the patriarch asked reading out a statement.  

If no solution is devised in the shortest possible time, the Ethiopian church could take its own measure, Church leaders are warning.

Abune Mathias called on members of the Holy Synod who started their regular session to make themselves ready so as to stop the attack on the church even if it means death.  He also advised archbishops to console those members of the church whose heart has been broken due to the attacks.  

Followers took to the street in September demanding for an end to attacks targeting Ethiopian church.

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