News Update: Orthodox Patriarch, delegation return to Addis without meeting Tigray religious leaders

His Holiness Abune Mathias and his delegation departing to Addis Abeba from Alula Aba Nega International Airport in Mekelle. Photo: EOTC Broadcast

Addis Abeba – The delegation led by His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC), that visited Tigray regional state yesterday in a bid to kick start reconciliation and deliver humanitarian support has returned this morning to Addis Abeba without securing a face-to-face meeting with the leaders of the See of Selama Kessate Beharan Archdiocese in Tigray.

The delegation, which comprised of members of the Holy Synod from Addis Abeba and renown individuals including Athlete Derartu Tulu, was only received by Getachew Reda, the President of the Tigray Region Interim Administration, and other authorities in the region.

According to the Church’s news outlet, the delegation “was not given any kind of spiritual welcome or blessing ceremony by the blessed fathers, priests, and Sunday school members in the Tigray region. The Holy Patriarch, and even the elders of the country, were forced to pray the covenant prayer at the closed door of the church.”

As of the publication of this news, the leaders of the See of Selama Kessate Beharan Archdiocese did not issue official statement on the reasons they declined to meet with the Patriarch and his delegation.

Despite failing to meet the religious leaders, however, the Patriarch said yesterday that they “have strong hope for the future…and our hope will not die.”

On Monday afternoon, the Patriarch led his delegation to a visit to an a camp in Mekelle, the capital city, which is hosting internally displaced persons, including those who are displaced from western Tigray.

The IDPs met the delegation with banners carrying messages of denunciation against members of the Synod who had commented publicly supporting the two years war in the Tigray region.

Clergyman Wolde Kidan Marsha, one of the displaced civilians from western Tigray, told the Patriarch and his delegation that leaders of the Church contributed to the “destruction and displacement of the people of Tigray by providing financial assistance” to support the war. The displaced people have been in shelter for three years without food, he said.

Muna Yusuf, another IDP in residing in the camp, called on the Church’s leaders to work for the return of the displaced people to their homes “if they feel humane.” Some of the banners also carry messages calling for Tigrayan IDPs to return to their homes according to the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, regional media reported. AS

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