News: Patriarchate Secretariat warns Tigray religious leaders’ move endangers Orthodox Church

Management members of the Ethiopian orthodox Tewahdo (EOTC) Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office. Photo: EOTC TV

The management of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office also called on nationwide dioceses of the Church to denounce the establishment of the See of Selama Kessate Berhan by leaders of Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church.

Addis Abeba – Management members of the Ethiopian orthodox Tewahdo (EOTC) Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office issued eight points resolution warning against the establishment of the See of Selama Kessate Berhan and related activities by the leaders of Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church to appoint ten bishops as candidates for episcopates.

In what can be seen as a veiled legal threat against the establishment of the separate structure in the Tigray region, the eighth point of the resolution stated that while exhaustively following peaceful resolutions to implement all the options to the end stands, a legal committee established through the legal services department of the Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office will work to “uphold the rights and interests of the church by following the appropriate legal procedures,” and for it to be presented to the Holy Synod and given instructions.

The Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office issued the statement after convening a meeting on 18 July to discuss about the latest developments in the Tigray region after regional Orthodox Church leaders held a ceremony on Sunday 16 July and elected ten candidates as would be espiscopates to lead dioceses both in the Tigray region and abroad under the newly established Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church the See of Selama Kesate Birhan. When anointed, the ten episcopate will represent the new structure the See of Selama Kesate Birhan that is separate from the EOTC Holy Synod in Addis Abeba.

However, the Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office warned that “the seriousness of the problem tests the Church’s unity and sovereignty, and endangers all the dioceses, and the central structure of the church,” and called on “all the dioceses” of the EOTC across the country to “protest against the action and send a call for peace.”

The Office also called on native Tigrayan leaders of the religion and scholars of the Patriarchate to convey a teaching and messages highlighting “the damage” of the “un-canonical” move by the Tigray Orthodox will cause on the church in order to “protect the unity and peace of the church” using the media of the Church.

Officials of the church at all levels, scholars, and followers of the Church should also “stand together and protest against the action and implement the [Church’s] decisions passed at the central level to protect the unity and sovereignty of the church,” the Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office further said. It also puts a guideline for Tigrayans working under the Addis Abeba Diocese to “be invited to become part of the solution by raising awareness about the seriousness of the problem through discussion forums facilitated by the General Office of the Patriarchate.

In yet another call by the Church for government’s intervention to stop the move by Tigray religious leaders, the Office said that as the violations of the constitution and the canons…”go beyond the church and undermine national unity and sovereignty”, as well as “cause a national crisis”, the federal government and the interim administration of the Tigray region “should pay special attention to the problem and prepare a discussion forum to play their roles.”

A call was also issued the Patriarchate’s Secretariat Office to the “Archbishops in the region to protect the Constitution and the Canon” of the Church and “stop those” who the Secretariat accused making the move in “violation of the Canon and open the door of peace to dialogue.”

The Tigray orthodox Church leaders established the news structure See of Selama Kesate Birhan independent of the Holy Synod in Addis Abeba, which they accused of of endorsing and financially supporting a “war of genocide that was declared on the people of Tigray.” The See of Selama Kesate Birhan was subsequently established after Tigrayan Archbishops decided to cut ties with the Synod in February last year.

A year later in a joint statement issued on 07 February, three Archbishops of the Tigray Orthodox Church said that the Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo Church See of Selama Kesate Birhan, which they said has come into existence “with the blood of the Tigray people” is “non-negotiable”, and is not “up for sale.”

The Holy Synod in Addis Abeba had already dismissed the move calling it “a new illegal regional structure”, which violates “the institutional unity and existing structural organization of our church.” AS

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