Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church expected to Address His Grace Abune Petros’ Deportation with Official Statement
Updated on February 6, 2024 9: 23 P.M.
On Tuesday, a security official from the Ethiopian government deported His Grace Abune Petros, Secretary of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Holy Synod, upon his arrival from the United States at Bole International Airport.
“I am returning to the United States,” Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Media (EOTC TV) cited His Grace Abune Petros as saying.
The source further added that His Grace told EOTC TV that “he will release a statement.”
He was deported via Dubai, as confirmed by EOTC TV. “We will announce to the public the decision from the Holy Synod,” it was said.
Abune Abraham has been in the United States, particularly in his diocese, New York, for a few weeks with authorization from the Ethiopian Church Patriarchate.
Sources close to the church reported that Abune Abraham, head of the Administration in the Patriarchate, and senior Ethiopian church figures were at Bole International Airport to welcome His Grace Abune Petros.
Abiy Ahmed’s administration has not yet remarked on why it deported the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) Holy Synod ‘s Secretary.
When His Grace Abune Petros traveled to the United States a few weeks ago, a false rumor began circulating on social media. It is believed to have originated from cadres of the ruling Prosperity Party. The rumor claimed that he was fleeing the country.
There are reports suggesting that the government chose to deport him after realizing that he would not stay in the United States.
The relationship between the Ethiopian Church and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has been on a collision course for at least a few years now. In February 2023, there was what now appears to be a politically motivated move to divide the church from within by splitting the Holy Synod along ethnic lines. Three ethnic Oromo bishops declared “an independent nation’s and nationalities synod,” a development that led to bloodshed in the Oromo region of Ethiopia. When this development triggered a massive nationwide movement among followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abiy Ahmed appeared as a mediator and “resolved” the issue.
In December 2023, Abune Lukas vehemently criticized Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over his military campaign in the Amhara region of Ethiopia, which affected civilians. To illustrate his point, he used the scriptural metaphor of David and Goliath, urging Abiy Ahmed’s forces to end Abiy Ahmed who is increasing to be an autocratic ruler. Abiy Ahmed’s administration has been exerting pressure on the Ethiopian Church to openly condemn Abune Lukas.
The Ethiopian Church has faced various forms of attacks from both state and non-state actors in the country, particularly since Abiy Ahmed took power in 2018.
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