Cardinal Berhaneyesus is in Sydney, Australia. After a Sunday mass in St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney, a woman confronts him about his complicity in Tigray Genocide. While he is meeting people after the mass service, a woman, Bety Eyasu, is beckoned by another woman to meet him. He seems to recognize her or her affiliation. The woman approaches him and after greeting him respectfully, she seems to tell him that she represents the Tigray community and then she confronts him thus:
We just want to ask why there wasn’t much coverage on the Tigray Genocide. Because there is a genocide happening in the Tigray Region right now. As a christian, as a father of God you [haven’t said much?]. You just covered it as a conflict. Is that a conflict? There is a genocide in the Tigray Region. We didn’t say anything in the Church because we have respect for the catholic religion. We are not here to distract [you from] anything, but with all due respect this is not something to minimize. There is no communication in the Tigray Region. You yourself and other religion leaders blessed the war on Tigray. This is not what we expected. But all religious leaders in Ethiopia, the Eritrean Church blessed troops to enter Tigray.
The Cardinal protested by saying “No”, to which the woman retorted by saying:
We have a picture of you and other religious leaders standing with the Ethiopian military.
The cardinal appealed for help by looking to another man who stepped in to help him by telling her that she should have respect and that there are other people waiting to meet him. She said “I am not done yet. I respect that. When we pray to the people of Tigray, we don’t want to minimize their pain because they are going through a genocide. ”
Towards the end the cardinal is heard saying “…we pray for all.”. According to Bety Eyasu, the cardinal said “we also pray for the Amhara and Afar” and that he also denied the Tigray Catholic Church has cut ties with the Ethiopian Catholic Church that he heads. But the Tigray Catholic Church indeed announced it was severing its links with the Catholic Church in Addis on grounds of the conduct of the later’s leaders during the genocidal war on Tigray.
Bety referred to a prayer in the church when she confronted him. The sermon and prayer can be heard from 34 minute mark onwards from the video posted on the St Mary’s Cathedral’s Youtube channel. In his Sermon, the cardinal said “being overbearing leads to a degeneration of love, to the abuse of others, to make our loved ones suffer.” Speaking about the Catholic Church in Ethiopia, he said , it “respects human life, and human dignity. And it stands for the sacredness of human life and at the same time, the church in Ethiopia stands for dialogue and peaceful coexistence, for mutual integral human development”. For a man who has been and is involved in supporting the genocidal war on Tigray, these words can’t ring more hollow.
In his lecture the genocidal war, suffering and starvation is Ethiopia is a a stage of learning to accommodate opposition. He asked the congregants for their prayer “for the Ethiopian people who at the moment are going through different stages, especially learning to accommodate the opposition, to be able to understand those who oppose you.” This is the closest he mentioned the Tigray Genocide and blockade and the suffering and carnage in the country. One who listens to his sermon would never know there is any skirmish, let alone a genocide, in Ethiopia.
The cardinal has indeed been not only very close to the Abiy Ahmed regime, but also actively supporting the war on Tigray including by blessing the military.
See articles related to the Cardinal Berhaneyesus’s role in Tigray Genocide.
- Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission Expresses Support for the War on Tigray
- Tigrayan Catholics write to Pope Francis about the involvement of Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel in Tigray crisis
- A Shepherd who Scatters his Sheep: Why is Cardinal Berhaneyesus Silent in the Face of State-Sponsored Starvation and Sexual Violence?
- Ethiopia Is Committing Genocide Against the Tigrayan People, Say Priests From Region