The postponement is a definite one, not an open-ended one, according to Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church fathers. The laity is advised to maintain the momentum to defend the Church’s right and remain standby to receive message from the Holy Synod
The Holy Synod of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Saturday announced that it has temporarily postponed a peaceful demonstration that was planned to take place on Sunday.
The decision came after a meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his cabinet minister on Friday. The venue of the meeting was set after a discussion within the Holy Synod. According to sources close to the Church, there was a proposal for the meeting to take place at the Patriarchate.
However, due to security considerations for government officials, the meeting took place in the office of the Prime Minister. His Holiness Aune Mathias led 12 other bishops who are members of the Holy Synod to the Palace in Arat Kilo.
Elders and prominent figures, including people like Haile Gerbreselassie and Derartu Tulu, had a facilitating role in making the meeting happen. The Holy Synod did have a say in the selection of facilitators.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s cabinet attended the meeting with the Church fathers. Last week, the Ethiopian Church announced that the planned demonstration is conditional upon the government’s response to address demands of the church in connection with ending interference in the affairs of the church and protecting the rights of the church in accordance with the constitution.
The Holy Synod said that the government agreed to address the demands of the church including respecting its canons in resolving its internal affairs.
The government is to end the crackdown and harassment of church fathers in the Oromo region of Ethiopia which was happening in what appears to be a move to support the three bishops who declared an ethnic-based synod.
Priests, deacons, choirs, and the laity in the region have been harassed. At least 8 were killed in Shashemene, dozens wounded and hundreds detained. According to the Holy Synod, the government has agreed to end that and provide protection for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the region.
When the Church declared three days of fasting, prayer, and for the laity to dress in black, the government was engaged in harassing those who are practicing it. Public servants who dressed in black in connection with the decree from the Holy Synod were suspended from work. That too was discussed during the meeting with the government.
The Holy Synod is saying the peaceful demonstration is not canceled. It is postponed to see if the government is implementing actions in the direction of ensuring the sovereignty of the church and non-interference in the affairs of the Church.
However, emerging on social media indicate that the government is not only refusing to release those arrested illegally but also making new arrests in Oromia and Addis Ababa.
The Holy Synod underscored that it did not change its position as far as defending the right of the church is concerned. It is just giving limited time for the government to implement actions to address the demands of the church that is said to take some time.
What it means, based on the explanation from the Holy Synod, is that if the government is not taking concrete steps to address the problem, a peaceful demonstration could take place in a short time. It called on the laity to keep an eye on the church and be stand by to receive message from the Holy Synod.
Regarding the three bishops who attempted to form a patriarchate, not much information is released except that the church will resolve it based on its canon. The church has left the repentance door open for them and there are indications that they will have conversations with the Holy Synod based on church canons.
The Holy Synod also glorified the martyrdom paid for defending the church. It appears even the government response to the Holy synod seems to be a result of the sacrifices paid and the determination from members of the church and beyond to defend the church.
The Ethiopian Church, one of the oldest churches on earth, has been under extensive government supported attack in the past fours years.
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