Ethiopian Orthodox Church Says Internal Crisis Over After Dissidents Apologise



One of the oldest churches in the world, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, has declared that the crisis that rocked it after a number of archbishops established a breakaway synod has been resolved.

The church announced on Facebook on Wednesday night that the three archbishops who convened their synod in the Horn of Africa nation’s largest and most populated region, Oromia, have expressed regret.

“The recent problems within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church have been resolved through face-to-face discussions,” the statement said.

The three archbishops were expelled last month after their split, considered illegal by religious authorities. They will be reinstated, the statement added.

The announcement came hours after a meeting between the two parties and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, himself from the Oromo community and whom the patriarchate had accused of supporting the dissidents.

“This church is strong and we have decided to bring back the lost sheep,” Mr Abiy said at the meeting.

Almost 40% of Ethiopia’s 115 million people belong to the Tewahedo Church, which has been overseen by Patriarch Abune Mathias for a decade. The crisis, which is accompanied by political strife between the federal state and the Oromia region, has severely rattled this church.

According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, an assault on a church in Oromia at the beginning of February resulted in the deaths of eight individuals (EHRC).

“Beatings, intimidation, evictions from churches (…) and illegal detentions were carried out in various regions against individuals and clergy who opposed those who claimed to have formed a ‘new synod’,” the EHRC also denounced.

The dissenting priests accused the church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, arguing that it does not address congregations in Oromia in their native language.

The patriarchate dismissed the complaints and at one point called for peaceful demonstrations, which were eventually called off.

In its statement on Wednesday, the church said it would allocate new resources to extend the Oromo language service in Oromia but also in other parts of southern Uganda.


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