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Ethiopian Orthodox Church Excommunicated three subversive Archbishops

PM Minister Abiy Ahmed is getting a copy of the Holy Synod decision against Archbishops that attempted to break up the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church 

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church Holy Synod
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church Holy Synod members (Photo : EOTC media)


The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Holy Synod on Thursday excommunicated three Archbishops who declared this week for illegally ordaining bishops earlier this week.

Abune Sawiros, Abune Ewostatewos and Anune Zena Markos were given a deadline to appear before the Holy Synod to apologize for the move in the direction of creating an ethnic Oromo patriarchate in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.  

Abune Sawiros _ Abune Ewostateos and Abune Zena Markos
Excommunicated Bishops. Left to right : Abune Zena Markos, Abune Sawiros (designated “Oromia Patriarch”) and Abune Ewostateos (Photo : SM)

The Holy Synod said that it has confirmed from media sources that the three undertook an illegal ordination in Balewold Church in the West Shoa Diocese in Sado Dachu district – a few kilometers from Woliso town. 

Apart from ex-communication, the Holy Synod stripped them of all their ecclesiastical ranks. They are no longer  archbishops, bishops, priests or deacons. They are now reduced to Ato (equivalent to the English title Mr.) The decision is effective as of January 26, 2023. 

25 of the 26 bishops they ordained are also stripped of all their clerical ranks in the church. The exception is Qomos Tsegazeab Adugna who repented and apologized to the Holy Synod a day before the Holy Synod passed the decision based on the church laws. 

They will not be receiving any sacrament from the Ethiopian Church in life or in death too. 

The Holy Synod will name Archbishops for the Dioceses and churches that were under the excommunicated Archbishops namely South West Shoa Diocese, Kenya-Uganda-Tanzania-Rwanda Diocese, Illu Aba Bora and Buno Bedele Diocese, North America Minnesota and area diocese, Guji-West Guji-Borana zone Dioceses and Miskaye Hizunan Medhane Alem Monastery (Addis Ababa)

The Holy Synod also said that the excommunicated bishops can not represent the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and can not communicate on its behalf with governmental or non-governmental organizations in the country or abroad, or with Sister churches,  Easter Orthodox Churches, Rome Catholic Church and other churches. 

The Ethiopian Church said it will accept them with open arms should they opt for repentance for the damage they did to the Church.  

The decision from the Holy Synod will be sent to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other levels of government officials. A forum is to be organized for government officials. 

The excommunicated Archbishops were intending to use the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church resources – including the churches. 

Support from Sister and other churches 

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church got messages of Solidarity from the Egyptian Coptic Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Indian Malankara Church and Other Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The Egyptian Coptic Church said that it entirely rejects the schism and “…the separation of Bishop Abune Sawiris and the installation of himself as Patriarch of the Oromo region of Ethiopia..” 


The three patriarchates accused the Ethiopian Church of not offering services in the Oromigna language and also in connection with the distribution of resources to the diocese in the region.  

His eminence Abune Henok, His eminence Abune Rufael and His eminence Abune Nathanael are all Oromo language speakers. They gave their testimony soon after news of illegal ordination by Abune Sawiros.  

Abune Nathanael said their move does not have anything to do with offering services in Oromo. “I myself offer service in Oromigna. I sing in Oromigna, I offer liturgy and mass service in Oromigna.  The church united us as brothers but politics separated us,” he said. 

The Ethiopian Church has had programs and services in the Oromo language for several years now.  Geez, an ancient language in the country, has been extensively used as a church language in all parts of Ethiopia and ancient church scriptures are mostly, if not entirely, in Geez language.  The language has a Saba script which is also used in Eritrea. Radical ethnic Oromo nationalists tend to see the use of the ancient church language as a sort of “imposition on the Oromo People.” 

Politicized religious leaders seem to be subscribing to that view. 


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  1. Editor:

    The title chosen for this article while catchy and inflammatory is only a half-truth.

    “Ethiopian Orthodox Church Excommunicated three subversive Archbishops”

    The story is more like “Ethiopian Orthodox Church Excommunicated three subversive ( could also have used the less inflammatory synonym: dissidents) Archbishops with some caveats”.

    By a coincidence of fate, I knew one of the ex-communicated Archbishops when he was a young deacon serving
    In one of the more popular churches. My distant memory of him is as a likable and young deacon in the service of God. It is my understanding that he came from a rural part of Ethiopia when he came to Addis Ababa as a deacon during my encounter. I also just recently learned of his becoming an Archbishop. Reflecting on his spiritual journey, I admired to myself his spiritual journey, development and his attainment of the status of Archbishop from his very humble beginnings.

    It is therefore, agonizing, painful and surreal to suddenly learn that he was one of the participants in a revolt against the church in which he grew up, whose traditions he was well versed in, and most of all his life long service dedicated – only to end up as an insider who for some reasons, unknown for sure to me, rose up got agitated and stuck against the Mother Church, The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church. His decision can precipitate the schism in the church from the Meles era that was just being barely repaired and bring about another cataclysmic upheaval.

    During my encounter, as stated above, I only saw a deacon from some rural part of Ethiopia. Ethnicity was not a question then, identity was not a central part of who one is then to be talked about 24/7, but how is it possible for an individual who has come to Addis Ababa decades ago, before EPRDF/ TPLF era and become radicalized enough, not as a politician, not as a citizen, but as an archbishop to rise against the very same church to which one dedicated one’s entire life????????

    It is my hope that the unity of the church is preserved, and this sad, agonizing and challenging moment will serve as a teaching moment. The politicians behind the scene who manipulate the strings must realize that the vehicles or vectors that they think will serve their political purpose or given agenda, are individuals with life long talents, ambitions, dedications, service and most of all call in life that can easily outstretch the political life time or cycle of a given opportunistic politician.

    It is shameful, immoral, unconscionable and unethical to waste the achievements, dedication, talents, service and commitment of an individual’s entire lifetime!!!!! No political ideology, no ambition or aspiration for political hegemony or dominance, which by its very nature is ephemeral, warrants the exploitation, corruption, manipulation, subversion, instigation, and misdirection of an individual’s entire life. By any means to achieve an end is for the unscrupulous who in the end will learn the hard way what they did glutton for, what they salivated for was never what they thought to be.

    On November 23, 1974, out of fear, hysteria, and worst of all sheer vileness, the derg, under the manipulation of the butcher Mengistu Hailemariam machine gunned down 60 plus Ethiopian officials, among whom were two PMs with talent, education and experience, the Sorbonne educated PM Aklilu Habtewold and the young PM Endalkachew Mekonen who was a graduate of Oxford. To achieve the derg chairmanship, Mengistu massacred the irreplaceable PM Aklilu who had dedicated nearly 40 plus years of his life to the service of Ethiopia, as a young activist, assistant foreign minister, deputy foreign minister, and prime minister of Ethiopia. The establishment of Ethiopian Airlines with collaborations with TWA then under Aklilu’s tireless efforts alone should have been enough for the derg goons to leave this dedicated public servant of Ethiopia alone, but alas their motto was the “end justifies the means”,Aklilu had to be machine gunned down.

    Fifty or 60 years of an “individual’s” personal journey for a life of church service, spirituality, personal redemption, community service and spiritual growth and development, his growth and maturity from a rural town in Ethiopia from humble beginnings as a deacon to Archbishop are savagely, unscrupulously and unconscionably usurped, manipulated and distorted to serve the gluttony, vulgar lust for power and hegemony of opportunistic political vultures with no shame. What a travesty of life!!!!!

    Let’s be hopeful and pray that out of this sad saga of degradation of morality and spiritual equanimity, there is light at the end of the tunnel, that the individuality of one’s humanity rises, that beyond identity politics even in the church, the voices of reason, logic, personal conscience shine on the universal, indicating the Kingdom of God is one, the tent is large and can accommodate all who congregate as fathers, mothers, brothers and children.

  2. Typo correction

    “as fathers, mothers, brothers and children” should instead read as “as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children”.

  3. Under no circumstances should the Abiy regime be involved in any behind the scenes arm-twisting, coercion, intimidation or meddling of the internal Church Affairs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church. The decisions made by the Holy Synod were based on the rules, regulations, and codes of the Church, an almost 2000 years old institution. The decisions were open ended enough with a clause- an opening, an aperture, that will allow reconciliation and reunification, if the dissenting group acknowledge the errors they either inadvertently or knowingly committed. The legal basis for the nullifications of the appointments has been clearly delineated.

    Abiy and his PP members have been constantly talking about the need for institutions for the past 3 or 4 years ad nauseam.


  4. Most of you guys are brainwashed by eotc dominated by neftegna tribalists who deceive their own people with biblical verses for their own agenda., economic and territorial expansion.

    We don’t accept the current excommunication passed by the corrupted bishops who don’t respect the patriarch, but manipulate him for their own advantage disrgerading canonical and biblical regulations.
    Mahibrekidusan and its suppoters among bishops run the church and moving it towards disaster. You may ask many of the church leaders and scholars and they will tell you how this wicked mahibrekidusan has been working for over a century .

    We are witnessing the vulgarity and wickdness of the ordinary followers of EOTC when insulting and diparaging newly elected bishops . It is a sign of arrogance and irreligious attitude.

    It will be amtter of time,n but Oromia will not stay with neftegna church and Tigray alreday disociated itself from genocidal synod.

    According to the teaching of Christ and canonical writings of the church , the current members of EOTC synod have no canonical and biblical rights to ecommunicate newly elected bishops , because they blessed the genocide in Tigray and sponsored it . Thoudsands of nuns, monks, and priests were exceuted , amputated by the genocidal army.

    The book of fitanegetst is against these current bishops in the synod of EOTC .And the bible says “Answer Jesus’ statement “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” is found in John 8.
    Do you think appointing bishops will be sinful than those who support and finance genocide against their own laity, nuns , monks and priests ?

    You believe them because they are doing and uttering what you want to see and hear and they are in favor of your own tribe . When you act as tribalist , it is natural that you will not feel it but you don’t like others to stand for their rights and speak up in defense of their own laity in Oromia .
    You are defendi ng your own power and territorial expansion , how could you blame others for defeinding their own church ?

    Oromia don’t need a waged bishops and priests
    John 10:12 – Jesus the Good Shepherd
    Verse 12. – He that is a hireling(ምንደኛ እረኛ ), and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth (the word μισθωτὸς occurs in Mark 1:20).

    የኦሮሚያ ሕዝበ ክርስቲያን ቋንቋውን የሚናገር ብቻ ሳይሆን ባህሉንና እሴቶቹን የሚያከብር ለሕዝበ ክርስቲያኑ ክብርና ፍቅር ያለው መሪ አባት እንጂ ምንደኛ እረኛ ለገንዘብ(አሥራት በኩራት፥ለማከማቸት የቋመጠ ) ብሎ የተቀጠረ ጳጳስና ካህን ካሁን በሗላ አይሻም፤፤በታሪክ እንደምንረዳው የግብፅ ጳጳስ በጦርነት ወቅት ኢትዮጵያን ልጆቻቸውን ጥለው ወዳገራቸው ሸሹ፥፥በዚያን ወቅት ብዙ ካህናትና መነኮሳት ምዕመናን ተጨፍጭፈዋል፤፤አሁንም ተቆርቋሪ የሆነ የኔነት የሚሰማው ችግሮች በማህበረ ሰቡ ውሥጥ ሲከሰት በሃላፊነት የሚፈታ አባት እንጂ አንድ ነፍጠኛ ምንደኛ በሥማ በለው በአሥተርጓሚ የሚሰራ አባት ካሁን በሗላ አይፈለግም፥

    You are deleting many of comments because it is against your politics of religion and you know many of your relatives are befiting from nefetgna led church . Simply , church is led by mafia who steal millions annualy from poor people in the name of religious propagnada. oif these people love the laity and respect the word of God, there are many poor churches and poor merigetas and traditional schools, tyhey have to help them all. EOTC have billions in its bank.

  5. I think this schism controversy of of the Holy Churche has to do something that has been simmering within for sometime. Hopefully, they would be able to mend their difference if only politicians leave alone it and refrain from politicizing by the Oromimumna crowd in the house of worship. Remember few years back when Melez and TPLF goons tried to manipulate the the Holy Iskamic Mosque by importing and imposing on an aliens sect called Al Habash from Lebanon and the anguish and division it caused upon the Muslim faithful? Never try to mix religion and politics together. It is dangerous mix.

  6. Corrupted bishops ,of EOTC synod working with mafia mahibrekidusan
    Abune Mathias , Patriarch of EOTC, have committed historical plunder by working with neftegna

  7. The desperation of the political opportunists from the TPLF, OLF and PP camp is clearly visible.

    You hate Mahbre Kidusan because they have a very well educated workforce that wants to establish ethics, accountability and public service in the EOTC.

    The EOTC in the past 30 years was vandalized, demoralized, vulgarized and assaulted by worthless tplf cadres who have no business setting their feet in the EOTC , because stealing is immoral, sinful and illegal.

    The Mahbre Kidusan will fight for accountability, will struggle to introduce and teach modern accounting and management of EOTC resources, funds and assets.

    Kleptocratic hands of shameful thieves, vagabonds, murderers that hide behind their ethnicity when exposed, will be brought to justice. It does not matter if one is Amhara, Oromo, Tigray, Martian, if you are shameless enough to steal, you will be held accountable before the law. You will be removed as unfit and unworthy.

    If you want to practice Beher Bheresobch, you are in the wrong place, you should run for political office.

    This is a religious institution. The codes and regulations for the decisions were clearly delineated. It does not make any difference if what you call “nefetegna” or any other person interpreted it.

    What part of there should be only one Synod, you don’t grasp??????? What part of one Patriarch for the one EOTC, you don’t grasp??????

    Do you see two Popes at the Vatican?????? Why don’t you people, for one’s in your sorry lifetime, learn to act as a human being. Use your brain, think, read, ask and most of all learn.

    The more you people open your mouth, the more diarrhea of the mouth is noticed.

    You are angry, and you should well be. No stealing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No stealing from the church!!!! It is beneath the call.

    Absolutely no creation of pseudo religious ethnic sectarianism; it is against the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is One and Open to All.

    How on earth, an archbishop who has taken a vow to abandon worldly materialistic indulgence openly before the public request for wealth distribution?????? What does that have to do with being called for Christian fellowship and service.

    Have some shame, have some conscience, have at least an iota of remorse.

    Again, of you want to practice politics, THE EOTC IS NOT THE PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong crowd.

    • Speak up now. you are paid servant ofmahibrekidusan , mafia and known by every church scholars for itrs robbery and political agenda. You are deceiving peoplewho don’t know you here

  8. Thank God for the one church, thank God for all the oriental churches standing up against this. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Holy Synod as has been the case for generations. I pray that they all come to genuine repentance, and I pray that, the current leaders truly accept them with open arms. Glory be to God forever Amen!

    • At present, it is not Holy Spirit guding EOTC synod ; but neftegna bishops and mahibrekidusan(mafia & persecutor of church scholars and monks)


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