Instruction Abiy Ahmed gave to the Church seem to have been implement but there are voices that the process of appointment is similar to one that was in place since His Holiness Abune Paulos time
The Ethiopian Church on Wednesday announced that it has selected nine bishops who are going to serve in Dioceses in the Oromia region and South Ethiopia.
According to a report by Mahibere Kidusan, the Holy Synod administered votes to elect the new Bishops whose ordination is scheduled to take place in a few days. They will be ordained in the hands of His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Abba Sahlemariam Tolla, Abba Woldegebriel Abebe, Aa Tilahun Worku, Abba Amdemichael Haile, Abba Hailemariam Getachew, Abba Ze Teklehaymanot Gebre, Abba Estifanos Gebre, Abba Kinfegebreil Teklemariam and Abba Sebhatleab Hailemariam are the names announced to be winners during the voting process.
From the information released by Mahibere Kidusan, the highest vote is 30 and the lowest vote is 18.
They are to be assigned in West Arsi, East Wollega, East Hararge, Horo Guduru, Dire Dawa, West Wollega, Bunno Bedele, Dawro Konta and Gedeo dioceses.
In January of this year, the Ethiopian church experienced an internal turmoil when three renegade members of the Holy Synod broke away from Ethiopian Church’s highest church body with the intention to establish an ethnic Oromo patriarchate in the Oromo region – which practically meant two Holy Synods within a single country. To that end, they ordained over 17 bishops in a way that violates the Orthodox tradition – which many Orthodox Churches, including the Egyptian and Russian orthodox churches, criticized.
The reason behind the breakaway was said to be the political mobilization of the part of radical ethnic Oromo nationalists who are pushing an “Oromummaa” ideology one of whose core strategy is to weaken the Orthodox Church in the Oromo region so as to impose an ethnic oromo traditional belief – Waaqeffannaa.
Initially, the Ethiopian Church excommunicated the three renegade Archbishops and stripped them of their clerical authority while offering the opportunity for them to repent and return to the Holy Synod.
At the time, Ethiopians across the country and abroad reflected a belief that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s group was behind the division.
It got to a point where the Ethiopian Church, in February this year, had to declare three days of norming in resistance to what appeared then was government interference one of the manifestations of which was the renegade archbishops and the bishops they illegally appointed were forcefully breaking into churches in the Oromia region. Resistance from the laity was dealt with brutal measures and dozens were killed and thousands arrested.
Later, PM Abiy Ahmed emerged as a “mediator” and an “agreement” was reached. Part of the agreement, as prescribed by PM Abiy Ahmed whose video footage was released on national television, was to appoint new bishops in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. Today, appointments seem to be in line with that.
The Ethiopian Church said the nomination was undertaken by a committee selected by the Holy Synod and that it was based on study [a sort of background check and competence] on the nominated ones.
From conversations on social media, there appeared to be a sentiment among Ethiopians that the church should not have fallen into the ethnic trap where bishops are appointed on the basis of their ethnic identity.
His Eminence Abune Ermias, a member of the Holy Synod, appeared on the Ethiopian Media service. He said that the practice used during the appointment of the nine bishops has been in place since the time of His Holiness Abune Paulos. Abune Paulos was appointed after the ethnic Tigray nationalist Tigray People’s Liberation Front toppled Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam’s government with political and diplomatic help from the United States and its Western allies.
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