Now the Ethiopian government is linking the problem in the church with unspecified group with a mission to disintegrate the country
The Ethiopian government on Sunday released a statement in connection with the ongoing problem in the Ethiopian Church – for which it has been widely criticized.
Claiming that the government has been helping to solve problems the church has been facing (just like the Prime Minister did so when the met with his cabinet ministers), government communication services said “believers should refrain from complicating the problem, stop being an instrument for other entities and play a constructive role.”
In addition, the government warned the media about coverage that aggravates the situation.
Furthermore, the government made claims to link the situation in the Ethiopian church to forces that have a malicious interest in the existence of Ethiopia.
But the claim was unspecified and blurry. It said that the government has “learned that forces who attempted and failed to disintegrate the country are working to cause religious and ethnic conflict and aggravate them.” It said the government will not tolerate it.
“The government will do its law enforcement work against those who are working to aggravate the problem. Again it is unspecified as to what groups are aggravating the problem.
The statement from the ministry also said that the church is capable of resolving the problem through internal mechanisms and through “dialogue.”
EOTC Media on Sunday shared brief information saying Ethiopian Long Distance Athlete, Derartu Tulu, is working on the mediation effort, and that her effort has recognition from the Holy Synod and is not against the canons of the Ethiopian Church.
The problem in the church started a day after the colorful celebration of the feast of Epiphany across the country when three Bishops drifted away from the Holy Synod and declared a new ethnic-based patriarchate from a rural church close to the town of Woliso.
The Holy Synod has excommunicated the group and the splinter group, the 26 bishops it ordained, stripped their ranks off.
The laity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been following instructions from the Holy Synod and there have been no reports of actions that compromised the security situation.
On the other hand, video footage and images circulating on social media indicated that the group that has been excommunicated by the Holy Synod was supported by Special Forces in the Oromia region and breaking into churches in several areas in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.
Their move caused tension as the laity moved to protect patriarchates at the Diocese levels. In Shashemene, Oromo region special forces opened fire on residents who rushed to St. Michael Church to defend it as the illegal group attempted to break in. At least three civilians are killed ( Martyred as the Ethiopian Church calls it). Well over 11 wounded. Some church sources put the latest number of deaths to 35.
There are also reports, according to Adebabay Media, that the illegal group ( it has become clearly noticeable that it has government support) is planning to stage a public rally in the capital Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Church Holy Synod has called on three days of fasting and prayer. On Sunday, it announced that the laity should avoid carrying any slogans or emblems when going to church. It said only prayer books are allowed. It has also called on the laity to dress in black in the course of the three days of prayers.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has been widely criticized for intervention in the affairs of the church in a way to support the illegal group and for failing to enforce law as the group is trespassing on the church properties.
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