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Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Betrayal and the Rebirth of the Tigray Orthodox Church

Ethiopian orthodox betrayal of Tigrayans by supporting the war on Tigray has inspired the desire to form an autocephalous Tigrayan church.



When Abiy Ahmed Ali waged the genocidal war on the people of Tigray on Nov 04, 2020, under the guise of “a clear, limited, and achievable law enforcement operation”,  the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) expressed its support for the war instead of standing for peace and neutrality, and in solidarity with its Tigrayan Orthodox children. The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) on Nov 17, 2020 reported thus “the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church [EOTC] announced its support for the Ethiopian National Defence Force by participating in the ‘I stand with the Ethiopian Army campaign”. This campiagn was launched by Abiy Ahmed through loyal Ethiopian artists to rally support for his war on Tigray.  

The EOTC failed to say a single word condemning the aerial bombardments and destructions of many Tigrayan Orthodox Churches, looting of multiple religious manuscripts and heritages, gang-raping of Tigrayan Orthodox women and underage girls including nuns; extrajudicial killings of priests & clergymen including those who were inside churches leading prayers and holy masses; and the execution of Sunday school teenagers.

To make things even worse, many Ethiopian clergymen, who have key religious and administrative roles in the EOTC, have been heard saying that whatever has is happening in Tigray is “a rule of law enforcement operation” and that “TPLF must be eliminated” because, they say, the cause of what ails Ethiopia is TPLF. Below is an excerpt from an interview of Daniel Kibret, a prominent EOTC deacon who is Abiy Ahmed’s social affairs adviser, with Adebabay Media, a US-based media highly affiliated to the EOTC and owned by priest Efrem Eshetie. 

An EOTC priest  Efrem interviewing deacon Daniel Kibret on Jan 2, 2021 @Adebabay Media

Efrem: “Dani, we hear rumours that the historical and renowned Al Nejashi mosque  has been demolished. Do you have any information about it?”

Daniel: ”Personally, what I have heard is that it’s  not  been demolished but that it has sustained damage … I know it’s located in a war zone. Of course I would have preferred for it not to have happened [he meant the damage]. Every care and effort has been done to spare religious and historical sites [in Tigray] because of this [the care], the Ethiopian Army has avoided city war … but Al Nejashi is nearby to the war fronts and I have heard that it has sustained some damage.” 

Efrem: “We know that TPLF has the characteristic of provoking war nearby religious sites. They had that experience of blaming their adversaries even during the war with the Dergue.”

Daniel: “Majority of it is not disclosed but TPLF have been found storing weapons in renowned Orthodox churches. But if we tell the public about every detail, the worshippers will hate the church in the future. So we skipped many details about their cruelty. This is not a new thing for them [the TPLF] … The monasteries and churches should be collaborative when searches for the fugitives are about to be done inside the churches.”

Daniel Kibret has unashamedly said, “these last two months were golden times and if you ask me how Ethiopia should proceed, I would say just like those past two months,” referring to the most tragic period in the history of Tigrayans as a golden time for him and for Ethiopia. Efrem Eshetie himself has publicly expressed his wish: “the victory achieved in the north [the war on Tigray] has to be repeated in Oromia.” According to Tedros Tsegaye of Reyot Media, Adebabay Media is a genocidal media which uses religious language and symbols to disseminate its poisonous and racist propaganda. Tedros blames the media for acting as a protector of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church while celebrating the extermination of the people of Tigray.

The insensitiveness of the EOTC to the genocidal war on Tigray and the people of Tigray has infuriated millions of Tigrayans across the world. Every Tigrayan Orthodox Christian feels betrayed by the very church they considered their “mother” and have channelled their anger into a holy cause of establishing the Tigray Orthodox Church. 

It is clear that establishing the Tigray Orthodox Church will require effort and time, however, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, as the Chinese would say, and hence Global Orthodox Tewahdo Association of Tigrayan Clergies [ዓለም ለኸ ማሕበረ-ካህናት ትግራይ ዘኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ] was officially established on November 21, 2020, as the first step in the establishment of the Tigray Orthodox Church.

Tigrayan Orthodox Church fathers publicly discussing their decisions with  the Tigrayan Orthodox Christians on Mar 14, 2021

The association said in its founding 

We all Tigrayan clergymen who live throughout the world, to retain our religion, church practices, and Tigrayan culture, and enable our [Tigrayan] people retain their Orthodox Tewahedo religion, [Tigrayan] culture, and history and instill these Tigrayan values into their children, and [for us] to defend any challenge that we may face united and with God’s power and lead ourselves and our people to a higher growth and development, and make every necessary preparation for the establishment of Church Council of the Tigray Orthodox Tewahido Church of the future state of Tigray, have established Global Orthodox Tewahdo Association of Tigrayan Clergies – an association which is free from any type of political involvement & dependence.

Global Orthodox Tewahdo Association of Tigrayan Clergies

The association has defined its guidelines; chosen a team of executives; and listed its short-term and long-term goals and activities. Among the seven goals and activities, two are stated as below:  

  1. Currently, the invaders, narcissistic nationalists, and wolves who are hunting  the people of Tigray are all united in their desire to exterminate our people. Hence, as part of our religious duty and as human beings, we must condemn the atrocities and raise our voices  to make the agonies of our people heard internationally.
  2. Currently, the level of atrocity and barbarism being committed on our people by the invaders is unspeakable. Tigray has always been generous but this is being done in return to her generosity. We had considered Ethiopia our motherland and served her for generations. But, from now on, we have lost every hope in Ethiopia. Therefore, our association has the goal of  establishing a Tigrayan Church Council, the body responsible for setting up the administrative and religious structures of the Tigray Orthodox Tewahdo Church.

The Global Orthodox Tewahdo Association of Tigrayan Clergies calls upon Tigrayan Orthodox Christians living across the world to fully understand the goals and activities of the association and support it both morally and professionally. The association also expresses its willingness and readiness to help and serve its Tigrayan people. 

Aba SereqeBirhan – a devout Tigrayan Orthodox Christian monk

 During the founding of the association, Aba SereqeBirhan, one of the members of the association,  posed a question for every Tigrayan Orthodox Christian to find an answer for. He asked,

what advantage did the Tigrayan Orthodox Church get from the EOTC? I request you to examine it. Did the Tigrayan Church get any benefit from the Ethiopian Church? Is there any gain our church got from the EOTC? Who is getting benefits and who is not? As to my understanding, upon a careful examination, since the conception of the Tigrayan Orthodox Church in the New Testament, our church has always been the giver but receiving nothing in return; benefiting the EOTC but getting nothing from the EOTC.”

Aba SereqeBirhan

The betrayal and the denial by Ethiopians in general and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in particular have inspired the need for the re-birth of Tigray and the Tigray Orthodox Church. It is only a matter of time before the Tigrayan muslims, catholics, and evangelical churches sever all ties with their religious “fathers” in Addis and repeat what the Tigrayan Orthodox Christians are doing.

There can never be a oneness with religious institutions that publicly support the Ethiopian, Amharan, and Eritrean forces’ genocidal war on Tigray and we Tigrayans, regardless of what religion we follow, should disassociate ourselves from bodies that deny the agonies (gang-rape, massacre, looting, mass displacements, burning & destroying crops and properties, etc) we are going through.

References and related resources: 

  1. The War on Tigray heightens schism in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church 
  2. መግለፂ ቅዋም ጉባኤ ትካላት ሃይማኖት ትግራይ
  3. መግለጺ ዓለምለኸ ማሕበረ ካህናት ትግራይ ዘኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ
  4. International Mahbere Kahnat Tigray Ze Orthodox Tewahido’s Prayer and Sermon 
  5. Grave mistakes of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s Bishops
  6. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church priests leading rallies in support of the Tigray Genocide
  7. Megabie Hadus Biruk Tesfay criticises EOTC’s Mihretab Assefa’s racism
  8. How is it possible to co-exist with them anymore?
  9. Mahbere Kidusan commemorates annual festivity of St Mary Zion but ignores the Axumites
  10. Tedros Tsegaye blames Adebabay Media as a genocidal and an anti-Tigray Media

Gebremeskel Gebemariam graduated from Mekelle Institute of Technology, worked as a teacher and head in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of Wolkite University for 4 years. He also served under Mahibere Kidusan during and after undergraduate study. Currently he is studying his masters degree in Communications Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

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  1. Tigray prevail

    April 19, 2021 at 11:13 am

    I would like to pay a special homage to our ecclesiastical fathers who are reinstating the Orthodox Tewahedo Church Of Tigray! The Church of Tigray was there and it was not invented now, BTW. It is we who welcomed Christianity. I am not making a preference or excellence, but I would just like to extend my appreciation to Abba make genet who did an interview recently with our sister: Our father said: We will not be uniting with Ethiopian orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) and we wouldn’t complain like Israelites to return to Egypt. The Parable that Abba Melake Gnet made was highly astonishing! Yes, we will not be reuniting with EOTC who killed ourchildren, mothers, priests , Monks , nuns, and burned our ecclesiastical heritage. What EOTC did to the church of Tigray and its laity is ungodly, surpasses an act of people who practice Idolatry and who wosrhip satan.

    Israelites grumbled and murmured -“Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” (Num 14:1-4 NLT), We Tegarus don’t want to go back to Egypt(i.e Ethiopia) which is to exemplify the barbaric treatment of Israelites by Pharaohs.
    Biblical Egypt was considered as a house of bondage, a threat to the people of God(Israelites).

    By the same token, Ethiopia was and is now a land of mass murder, gang rape, torturing holy men who pledged to serve Jesus Christ (like Dekike Estifanos and their descendants Walidiba and debredamo Monks ) and who dedicated their lives to the heavenly kingdom of God .


  2. Kaye

    April 17, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    EOTC is the main source of all problems (ignorance, poverty, tribalism, …) Now is the time to divorce from it! Tigray needs religious laundry now. We Tigrians need a paradigm shift in this regard. Religious fraud must not have any place in Tigray! I think this will be one of the few advantages of the war. Tigray will previal!

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