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GAJEC Letter to His Holiness Pope Francis I

January 13, 2023 

His Holiness, Pope Francis 
Apostolic Palace 
00120 Vatican City, 

Your Holiness, 

The Global Alliance for Justice – The Ethiopian Cause presents its deepest compliments to His  Holiness Pope Francis I and respectfully presents its appeal hereunder for consideration. 

We are writing to Your Holiness today first, to offer our deep condolences for the passing away  of His Holiness the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI may he be blessed in eternal memory. His late  Holiness will be remembered for his intellect, his great stewardship of the doctrine of the  church he led, and his reaching out in brotherhood to other communions, particularly to the  Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches with whom the Roman Catholic Church has so much in  common. We also value the work Your Holiness has done in furthering his efforts in this regard. 

Reaching out to others and working towards reconciliation and strengthening ties of  brotherhood must however include an acknowledgment of unfortunate events in the past  which have caused strain and distance to be encountered. One of the significant events that  have affected the ties between the Holy See of St. Peter and the people of Ethiopia is the Italo Ethiopian war and the occupation of Ethiopia by Fascist Italy from 1936 until 1941. As Your Holiness must know, Fascist Italy committed many terrible atrocities during its invasion and  over the course of its five year occupation of Ethiopia. During the initial invasion, the use of  poison gas and other chemical agents in violation of the Geneva Conventions was documented.  Civilian areas were targeted for firebombing, and even Red Cross tent hospitals came under  attack. Then during the early days of the occupation, the Fascists conducted the horrendous  Yekatit 12 genocidal crime in which 30,000 Ethiopians were massacred within only three days following the commandment of the Fascist Italian leader, Rudolfo Graziani. Just weeks later the  Fascist authorities massacred the monks and the faithful at the ancient Debre Libanos  Monastery and looted its treasury. The total number of Ethiopians massacred by Fascist Italy  are known to be one million. These atrocities including the vast quantities of cultural properties  looted from Ethiopia, carried out by the Fascist authorities and their surrogates, were well  documented, yet in the interests of political expediency, there were no war crimes trials against  Italian Fascist leaders as there were against the German Nazis and the Japanese Imperial  authorities who were held responsible for their crimes. Instead, many of the worst  perpetrators of atrocities in Ethiopia were allowed to live freely and even prosper unmolested in post-war Italian society for political reasons. This injustice has never been properly  addressed. 

In 1936 during the initial invasion of Ethiopia, several senior Roman Catholic hierarchs in Italy  known to have voiced support for the Italian side in the war were seen blessing Italian troops  headed to the Horn of Africa, and even supported the war financially. They even gave their gold  rings to support the war effort. Neither then, nor during the five year occupation has the  Vatican explicitly denounced the atrocities being committed against the people of Ethiopia by  the Fascist government of Italy, or expressed regret for the role certain Catholic clergy played in  them, nor has the Holy See addressed this issue in the decades since then. It is known that  many items of religious, historic and cultural significance which were looted from Ethiopia have  found their way into the hands of Roman Catholic institutions in Italy and the Vatican itself. 

Upon his return to his throne on May 5th, 1941, the late Emperor Haile Selassie I in his speech  to the people of his country instructed us not to forget the wrongs that had been perpetuated  against us, but to forgive our enemy as instructed by the Christian faith. However, an  important element of forgiveness is acknowledging the wrongs committed by the perpetrator  and those that may have benefited from his crimes. Forgiveness is not dependent of it being  sought, but it certainly helps. We respectfully request that Your Holiness carefully examine the  history of this issue, and the injustice that has been suffered by the Ethiopian people, and  consider how the Roman Catholic Church under your enlightened leadership can help to heal  this deep and festering wound. It should be recalled that the Vatican has apologized to the  Jewish people as well as those of Latin America and Rwanda. 

Again, we offer our sincere condolences on the passing away of the Pope Emeritus, and offer  our warmest and most respectful greetings to you as the holder of the Chair of Peter, and  Roman Pontiff. 

With our most respectful regards, 

Lij Nebyat A Demessie 
Deputy Chairman 
Global Alliance for Justice  

Cc The Prime Minister of Ethiopia 
Cc The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church 
Cc The European Union Parliament 
Cc The African Union

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1 COMMENT

  1. “ጅብ የማያውቁት ሐገር ኼዶ ቁርበት አንጥፉልኝ!” ይላል አሉ! It should rather read as follows:

    Dear Abiy, Abba Mathias, Pope Francis, “We Are the World” Organizers, etc.

    Subject: Letter of Repentance

    Objective: Apology to the Ethiopian People & Request for Your Prayers

    We, the undersigned hypocrite Haile-Selassie Era Royals & Servants, apologize for the famine that claimed millions of lives due to the colossal failure of our leadership.

    We also regret making Ethiopia synonymous with “Famine” & “The World’s Poster Child of Poverty”. We hereby ask Abiy to relay our sincere apology to ALL Ethiopians.

    We also take this opportunity to thank the artists who organized the “We are the World” concert to raise funds to save lives – however too little, too late it might have been.

    We also hereby promise to refrain from Ethiopian politics as damage control not to cause any more pain to Ethiopians and to erect a statue for those starved to death on our watch!

    Last, but not least, we whole-heartedly repent and ask for your forgiveness and prayers!

    Yours truly,

    Haile-Selassie Era Royals & Servants

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