In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
A statement from the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church regarding the completion of the Nineveh fasting and vows announced throughout the world for 3 consecutive days from February 6th to February 8th, 2023.
As widely mentioned in the prophecy of Jonah, because the people of Nineveh rebelled against God and their taxes were disgusting to God, God said to Jonah, “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city; and preach against them because their wickedness has come before me. As it is written in the Prophecy of Jonah Chapter 1 Verse 2 Jonah raised his voice and preached the word of God to the people of Nineveh, “The people of Nineveh believed God; They said to announce the fast. And they put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh. He got up from the throne and took off his robe and put on sackcloth. He sat on the ashes. He announced a proclamation. He proclaimed the decree of the king and the princes in Nineveh. And he said men and animals; Cows and sheep should not taste, graze, or drink water. Let men cover themselves with sackcloth, and cry out to God with a loud cry; And let all men turn from their evil ways and from the injustice at their hands. Who knows if God will come back and repent so that we don’t perish? And God saw their deeds as they turned from their evil ways. And God repented of the evil thing He had said He would do to them, and did not do it” (Prophecy of Jonah 3:5-10).
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has taken this fasting of the people of Nineveh as a starting point, and we have been pleading with our God by fasting every year with a declaration that the God who visited the people of Nineveh in His mercy will also forgive us in His mercy. According to the decision of the plenary meeting of the Holy Synod on February 3rd, 2023, the Nineveh fasting ended peacefully with a special spiritual prayer of repentance on February 8th, 2023 AD.
In our prayers, from His Holiness the Patriarch to the Archbishops, Priests, Scholars of the church, Ministers, devotees and all followers of the church wear black like the people of Nineveh and beg and plead with our creator in the morning and evening in prayer, liturgy, and the seven times of prayer because the test that has come to our church is extremely difficult.
In this season of fasting, our faithful children, we firmly believe that God will hear your prayers and vows to our God and give us a solution to our problems and peace for our country since you listen to the call of your fathers, wear black without fear of being chased by officials and jailed, and fast and pray in the morning and night, and attend mass at the church walls during the day, You, the faithful, have listened to the call of the church and expressed your deep love for your religion, the unity and peace of your country, and we cannot pass without expressing to you the spiritual strength we have received.
Through the grace of God, through the intercession of our mother, the Holy Virgin Mary, and through the intercession of the angels, we have completed our prayers and vows with perfect love and unity. We told our God our problems with crying and shouting. After this, even if the suffering persists, even if the period of suffering is long, we will never waver because God intends to strengthen and encourage us in suffering. After these sufferings, we will write history and protect our religion and overcome it with spiritual perseverance and struggle.
The attack is between the ones who abjure truth of the church and the true church. This is because they violated the canonical and administrative rules of the Holy Church and made an illegal bishopric. As a result, the Holy Synod condemned the individuals who committed this violation in accordance with the constitution of the church and the canon of the church, and separated them from the fellowship of the church on January 26th, 2023. It is costing the church a lot because it is supported by extremist politicians and followers of other faiths more than the individuals.
Since the action that is taking place is between the heavenly spiritual world and the earthly physical world, the honor and institutional superiority of the church has been violated in this short period of time. The walls of the church were stormed by armed forces and government security forces. Popes and fathers were expelled from their dioceses where they lived for many years without any legal basis by security structures. Their freedom of movement was restricted and they were sent back to Addis Ababa in exile. They were also banned from returning to their dioceses. Priests, fathers and laymen were also imprisoned illegally in prisons without any legal basis. Excessive beatings by security forces have resulted in death, serious and minor injuries. In general, they have been subjected to severe human rights violations by government forces.
The day after the Holy Synod ordered us to wear black and cry out to our God in absolute sorrow like the people of Nineveh did this fast in a peaceful situation in order that our God, who is obedient and sorrowful, will bring a solution to our church and our country, and the government will come back to his heart to honor and protect the church. According to the information we have received so far, more than 30 members of our church, including priests and ministers, have accepted martyrdom for their religion in the hope that its walls will not be breached and that the church will not be defiled by condemned individuals.
A large number of her children are also being treated for serious and minor injuries. Even after all these abuses, we have not been able to properly bury the dead and adequately treat the injured. These martyrs are an example of perseverance for the church and the believers by trusting the church to the point of death in this age of sin, and the church will always remember them. Although the church is suffering from the death of its children and was saddened by the imprisonment and many sufferings, she was also very happy to meet new holy martyrs who are witnesses to the truth of Christianity.
After the fasting started, in order to prevent the people from shouting and praying to God, the government officials who were appointed as public administrators violated the law of the country that they accepted the responsibility to serve. Eyewitnesses have confirmed to us that they are abusing our children and prevent from wearing black to enter the office and not get services in government offices, especially in the Oromia regional government and some federal and city government offices.
Through this, we understand that the officials are using their power to attack the church and that they have great contempt and hatred for our church and the people. This suffering and abuse that is happening to the church is a time of persecution and suffering of the church that is mentioned prominently in these days. This time of persecution and suffering of the church will be recorded in the history of the church and in the book of Sanksar. It will be passed down to generations. This time of trial will pass. But in this history, the ones on the side of the truth, your name will be written gold color, and the ones who give the church hard time, you have written your evil history.
On this occasion, apart from Oromia Regional Government and Addis Ababa City Administration, other regional governments and cities Especially the administration of Diredawa city, Southern Nationalities and Peoples Regional Government; Sidama Regional Government, South West Ethiopia Regional Government; Somali Regional Government; Benshangul Regional Government, Hariri Regional Government, Afar and Gambella Peoples Regional Government; Saula city in Gofa zone And other governmental institutions whose names we have not mentioned, we appreciate the fair and legal solutions you have taken to enforce law and order by following the call of our church, and we thank you on behalf of the church.
Also, in the name of the Holy Church, we thank the churches, religious institutions, organizations and congregations, followers of the Islamic faith, our brothers and sisters who are not in the same faith as us, for the help and cooperation that you have done and continue to do for us. When we announced the prayer, it was for the government to respect the law, the honor and dignity of the church, to stop interfering in the internal affairs of our religion and to be able to look into it. Until now, the government has continued to persecute the church, which has been a legal institution and country’s debtor for centuries, instead of listening to it and solving its problems. In this way, we believe that the government will take responsibility and solve problems, but it breaks our hearts to see the regime’s heart becoming more and more hardened.
In particular, before the 3-day prayer and oath announced by our church was not even completed properly, and the government security joint task force issued a statement banning processions on February 8th, 2023. The government has made us firmly believe that it is not a solution to the problem, but a decree to destroy the church once and for all.
In the statement፡-
- Mentioning that a demonstration was called by the orthodox fathers after The Holy Synod, which is the last body of the church, condemned and separated them, Calling them legal bodies and church fathers who have rights and trying to give an explanation affects and insults the honor of the church, and we also understand that the government is arguing as a lawyer for illegals instead of enforcing law and order.
- We will not accept the saying that the issue has the usual political form by saying that it was created by external and internal enemies as it is contempt for both the church and the people.
The church, especially for the past 4 years, has neglected the problems of its children in various parts of the country through false narratives, so that the foundations and unity of the country may not be shaken While the issue is clearly government intervention and the solution is only in the hands of the government, trying to shape it politically will only make the problem worse, not solve it.
In recent times, it is becoming known that our church, which is led by a structure and its children know its voice and listens to it properly. Meanwhile, false and offensive messages are posted in public, even the use of words are unorthodox, by these we can understand how much the matter is sought for political gain. We would also like to remind you that the said unconstitutional text is not our Holy Church and can never be.
Regarding the prohibition that no demonstration can be held in any part of the country, holding a peaceful demonstration is mentioned as a fundamental right of international human rights and is clearly stipulated in Article 30 of the constitution, so the government should respect and enforce the constitution itself.
- Regarding the prohibition that no demonstration can be held in any part of the country, holding a peaceful demonstration is mentioned as a fundamental right of international human rights and is clearly stipulated in Article 30 of the constitution, so the government should respect and enforce the constitution itself. Due to the above-mentioned sufferings and abuses against the church, it is unimaginable to watch the holy church, which has stood firm for thousands of years, being destroyed in the age of our children.
- In order to inform the international community of our wrongdoing, and to remind the government again and again that the peaceful demonstration of February 12th, 2023, which we called upon to respect and uphold the law, without the intervention and suppression of the government, is not an option for the government to allow us to conduct it with appropriate protection or to answer our constitutional questions properly and one by one.
In this process, we emphasize that we fathers and children of the Holy church will gladly accept the death, suffering and persecution that will happen to us, but we will not stand and watch as our church and country are destroyed, and we will not have a silent tongue or a heart to bear it.
We ask of the government to come out of its stubbornness and stop cooperating with the illegal individuals and stop the violation of the law in public within the next 2 days, including today, and to uphold law and order, To leave the dioceses and local churches, which he invaded by force, and hand over to the legal structure of the church, To unconditionally release the priests and laity whom he had prisoned, To publicly apologize for the abuse he committed against the church, We strongly request him to pay proper compensation for the death and injuries of the priests and the faithful and to repair the destroyed properties.
If the government continues to violate the law and humiliate the honor and dignity of the church in this way, the church will expand the scope of its peaceful activities to enforce its rights based on the law that the government has violated. We inform that we will hold the national and international peaceful demonstration that we have planned and announced on February 12th, 2023, in our own square without interference from anyone While reminding that it is only necessary to carry out the governmental responsibility properly, even today, we also inform that our spiritual door is open to solve the problem through dialogue if the government stops and thinks to talk with us fathers in a way that does not violate our religious, canonical and spiritual governance system.
Apart from this, comparing the so-called political game between the two fathers to individuals who have no legal personality in the country and are separated from the church has no constitutional or moral legal basis. Therefore, we strongly oppose to the process of suppressing the peaceful and legitimate demand for rights that our church has called.
Dear children of the Holy Spirit, just as you have not disgraced your religion and your holy church with your perseverance and struggle, may you still listen to the voice of your fathers with great perseverance and strength, to keep the church organized in each of your areas, to respond quickly to the spiritual call of your fathers. We are sending our paternal message to you to prepare for the spiritual struggle for the coming suffering and persecution and to overcome the challenge that has come to us together with complete spiritual integrity. Regarding the peaceful demonstration, we are announcing that we will give a detailed statement in a short time, saying that our children who sacrificed and died in this attack may rest their souls in a clean heaven with honor. May God bless you, your endurance and your prayers. May the God of the saints be with us all.
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