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Ethiopian Orthodox Synod Split, New Synod Established



A group of bishops, who said they are members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Synod, announce the formation of what they said is an all-inclusive synod in response to what they said were longstanding questions of the christian faithful. They said this decision was according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s creed .

In a statement their representative read out, they detailed the journey of the Ethiopian Orthodox church’s quest for autocephaly from the Coptic Orthodox church, which was finally achieved in 1959. The statement praised the achievement of autocephaly, but said “in the last 60 years of autocephaly, that didn’t avoid the creation of administrative problems/gaps that are causes for the problems in the church today.”

The statement said “the main one of them is the appointment of church fathers from one locality and assigning them to Oromia, South, East, and West and abroad. And this, because of the [assigned church fathers’] lack of knowledge of the culture and language of the people, has contributed significantly to the weakening of the faith of the faithful and the their estrangement from the church. Besides this, when it is about a certain locality, they [the synod fathers] appoint someone from the area and one who knows the language. But in Oromia and similar areas, almost all assigned fathers come from an outside locality [not from the areas themselves]. And research has showed that the fact that they [the assigned church fathers] couldn’t communicate in the culture and language of the regions has been the main cause for millions of followers to leave the Orthodox church in the past decades. Especially treating Oromia as one diocese and the attempt to administer it coercively is creating significant obstacles for serving the faithful.

The statement said its problem is administrative, language and culture, and inclusiveness. The statement repeatedly said certain locality, which is a code word used to refer to some regions in Amhara or the Amhara region broadly. They said there were some progress during the time of Patriarch Abuna Paulos, “but, now, in Oromia and similar regions, there are serious problems that threaten the continuation of the church.” Thy also said these questions have been asked for long time now, but haven’t been addressed.

To address the problems, they have passed the following “historic decision”:

“Because the existing synod, with 85% of its members hailing from a certain locality, is not considered all-inclusive, we are today announcing the establishment of an all-inclusive synod including all the peoples of the country and our official starting of work. Our country’s people and the faithful, congratulations!”

Following these, their representative read out the appointment of 26 bishops for several dioceses or provinces mainly in Oromia, Southern Nations and Nationalists and Peoples and the Oromo Special Zone in the Amhara state. They have also been given new names. The names of the bishops are below in Geez script.

  1. አባ ገ/ማርያም ነጋሳ – አባ ገብርኤል – ምዕራብ ወለጋ
  2. አባ ተ/ሃይማኖት ወልዱ – አባ ባስልዮስ – ድሬዳዋ
  3. አባ ገብርኤል ወ/ዮሐንስ – አባ ጢሞቴዎስ -ጉራጌ ሶዶ
  4. አባ ገ/እግዚአብሔር ታደለ – አባ ጳውሎስ – ምዕራብ አርሲ
  5. አባ ሚካኤል ገ/ማርያም – አባ ኤልሳዕ – ከምባታ
  6. አባ ኃይሉ እንዳለ – አባ ገሪማ – ምሥራቅ ሐረርጌ
  7. አባ ተ/ማርያም ስሜ – አባ ተ/ሃይማኖት – ጉጂ ሊበን
  8. አባ ኃ/ኢየሱስ መንግስቱ – አባ ዕዝራ – ከፋ
  9. አባ ወ/ኢየሱስ ኢፋ – አባ ኢያሱ – ቄለም ወለጋ
  10. አባ ጳውሎስ ከበደ – አባ ዳንኤል – ሀዲያ
  11. አባ ኃ/ኢየሱስ ተስፋዬ – አባ በርሱማ – ምሥራቅ ወለጋ
  12. አባ ገ/ኢየሱስ ገለታ – አባ ሚናስ – ሆሮ ጉዱሩ
  13. አባ ጸጋዘአብ አዱኛ – አባ ኤጲፋንዮስ – ምሁር ገዳም የበላይ ኃላፊ
  14. አባ ኃ/ማርያም ጌታቸው – አባ አቤል – ምዕራብ ሐረርጌ
  15. አባ ወ/ጊዮርጊስ ኃ/ሚካኤል – በርተሎሚዎስ – ከሚሴ
  16. አባ እስጢፋኖስ ገብሬ – አባ ራጉኤል – ባሌ ረዳት ጳጳስ
  17. አባ ገ/መድኅን ገ/ማርያም – አባ ዑራኤል – ጎፋ ባስኬቶ
  18. አባ ኃ/ሚካኤል ንጉሤ – አባ አኖሬዎስ – ጊኒር
  19. አባ አብርሃም መስቀሌ – አባ ኒቆዲሞስ – ዳውሮ፥ኮንታ
  20. አባ ንዋየ ሥላሴ አክሊሉ – አባ ሀ/ማርያም – ምዕራብ ጉጂ
  21. አባ ኪ/ማርያም ቶሎሳ – አባ ተ/ሃዋርያት – ጅማና የም
  22. አባ ወ/ማርያም ጸጋ – አባ አብሳዲ – ቦረና
  23. አባ አምደሚካኤል ኃይሌ – አባ መርቆሬዎስ – አርሲ
  24. አባ መርሐጽድቅ ኃ/ማርያም – አባ ደቅስዮስ – ጌዴኦ፥ቡርጁ፥አማሮ
  25. አባ ሞገስ ኃ/ማርያም – አባ ኤፍሬም – መናገሻ ጋራ መ/ዓለምና ፥ደ/ፀሐይ ቅ ጊዮርጊስ የበላይ ኃላፊ
  26. አባ ገ/ኢየሱስ ንጉሤ – አባ አልዓዛር – ቡኖ በደሌ መመደባቸው ተሰምቷል።

Previous Attempt of Establishing Oromo Patriarchate

Oromo religious leaders have been attempting to address the question of serving the Oromo faithful in their language for some time. In 2019, they tried to establish an Oromo patriarchate, under the Ethiopian Orthodox Synod. They were opposed by the Synod and by Amhara media and elite. The current establishment of synod seems in response to that failure.

Broader Context

The church has been a tool of imperial Ethiopia and of Amhara politics , being used to impose Amharaa culture, language and faith, among others. Today, many people outside the Amhara see it as an Amhara church. Amhara politicians and religions leaders also see it as an important tool in the creation of Amharized and unitary Ethiopia. Despite Ethiopia being a federation since 1991, the church has refused to change its administrative structure and to deliver services in other languages. The Amhara religious and political leaders have refused any slight reform and attempt of inclusion in the church. Amhara media and politicians continually attack and defame non-Amhara fathers, especially if they suspect they are pro-reform.

Today, the church is a den of Amhara politics from where people like the genocidaire Daniel Kibret and many Amhara bishops preach the total extermination of people. Below is an image of Amhara/Ethiopian bishops speaking directly or indirectly in support of the genocidal war on Tigray.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church Leaders expressing support for Tigray Genocide. Aba Michale says “we prefer to be ruled by the devil than by the junta”. Aba Petros says “All this talk of Tigray Genocide and rape is false”.

But in their attempt to exclusively run the church and overuse it for their politics, Amhara leaders have also been laying down the ground for its split. Below is an ESAT video from 2016 where Amhara religious leaders of Gojam and Gondar declared they no longer were under the Synod led by Patriarch Abuna Mathias, who is a Tigrayan.

May be an image of one or more people and text

Tigray Genocide and the Establishment of Tigrayan Orthodox Patriarchate

Following the religious institutions’ and their leaders endorsement of and participation in the genocidal War on Tigray, Tigrayan religious leaders distanced themselves from religious establishments in Addis Ababa, and announcing the establishment of their own independent institutions. Orthodox leaders established Tigrayan Orthodox Church Patriarchate.

See also

Gebrekirstos Gebremeskel is a researcher, runs (NLP resources & tools), and manages Tghat. He is interested in science, history of ideas and the politics of the Horn.

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  1. Baro

    January 24, 2023 at 2:40 am

    The church has such control that none of this will work. It will actually backfire. Badly. This is unless the splinter group has laid down some serious work over the decades in forging alliances and what not.

  2. Autonomous Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Tigray must be preserved and nurtured

    January 23, 2023 at 8:06 pm

    አብ ትግራይ ቀሳውስት፥ መነኮሳት፥(ፈለስቲ)፥ ዲያቆናት በአእላፍ ዝቁጸሩ ተኸተልቲ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ክህረዱ እንከለዉ ቤተክርስቲያን አብ ስደት እያ አይተብሃለን፤፤ሕጂ ግን ቤተክርስያን አብ መከራ ስደት እያ ዘላ ክብሉ ይስምዑ አለዉ፥፥ሕጂ ናይ ሲመተ ጳጳሳት ዝቃወሙ ዘለው ነፍጠኛታት ንቤተክርስያን ሀልዮም ተገዲሶም ከይኾነስ ካብ ቁፅፅሮም ወፃኢ ክኸዉን እንከሎ ዝእከብ ዝነበረ ብሚልዮናት ዝቑጸር አብ ኦሮያ ውሽጢ ዝርከባ አድባራት ገዳማት ከም ቁልቢ ዝመሰሉ ቅዱሳት መካናት ስለዝምንጠሉ እዩ፥
    እዚ ቕዱይ ቅብኢ እዚ ኸመይ ግዳ ንሰለስተ ሚእቲ ድሪም ተሸይጡስ ንድኻታት ዘይውሃብ፡ በለ ይሁዳ ።ምክንያቱ ብሽም ድሃታት ይጥቀም ካብዝዕከብ ሰልዲ ይሠርቕ ስለነበረ፤፤ማህበረ ቅርሱሳን ፀርፊ አይኮነን ንንፁህ ሰብ ሌባ እንተይልካዮ ሽም ኢኻ ተዉፅኧሉ ዘለኻ ፀፊ እዩ ንሌባ ሌባ ክትብሎ ከለኻ ግና ብግብሩ ብጠባይ ኢኻ ትገልፆ፥ሶ እዝ ማህበረ ቕርሱሳን ብቀንደኛ ፀላዕቲ ትግራይ ዝምራህ እዩ፤ንዚ ሐድሽ ሲመት ንረብሖም ንሰልዲ ኢሎም ዝቃወሙ ዘለዉ፥፥ ብናይ ቅኔ ዜማን አቋቋም ተምሀሮ ዝሽቅጡ ናይ ለያቡ ነጋዲያን ማህበር እዩ፥፥ተወለድቲ ተጋሩ ጳጳሳት መማህራን ሽም ከፅልሙ እዮም ዝውዕሉ፥፥ቅዱስ ፓትርያርክ አቡነ ማትያስ ከይምረፁ ብዙሕ ጎሥጓስ ይገብሩ ነይሮም እዮም፤፤ነፍጠኛ ማህበረ ቅርሱሳንም ሆነ ሌላው ፀረ ትግዋይ ውሸታም ሁሉ ክርስቲያኖች ቀሳውስትና መነኮሳት ሲታረዱና ሲረሸኑ ቤክርስያናችን መከራ ላይ ናት አላሉም ፥፥ንረብሖም ክከኸዉን ከሎ ቤተክርስያን አትከፋፈልም ይብሉና፥፥መርጦና ለይቶ ማልቀስ ልማዳቸው የሆኑ ጠባቦቹ ልሂቃን ከሱማሌና ከኤርትራ ጋር ሁነው ካህናትንና ሕዝበክርስቲያኑን ሲያርዱ አልከነከናቸውም፤፤በኦሮሚያ በትግራይ በጎንደር (ቅማንት)ክርስቲያን አብላጫው ነው፥፥ቅድስት ቤተክርስያን ፆታ ጎሣ ዘር ሃይማኖት ዜግነት ማንንም ሳትለይ ግደል እረድ አትልም፥፥

    The only reason why mahibre kidusan and other nefteghna people are opposing the current appointment of bishops is because they loose financial benefits , and their territory and scope of domination. They have never demonistrated remorse and merciful attitude when christians, priests, monks were massively killed and nuns were sexually harrased in their monastery in Tigray.
    However, we don’t support the current appointment in an attempt to displease or not to side with neftegna. JUstification brought by these bishops is too weak and could be boiled down simply to administrative issue.

    • Mahibrekidusan have no right to intimidate Bishops

      January 24, 2023 at 1:38 pm

      Mahibrekidusan have no right to intimidate Bishops Mahibrekidusan filled with amhara elites and tribalist amhara people is threatening these newly appointed bishops . How could a group of sabbath school students warn and intimadate bishops , the highest ranking leaders of the church ? BTW, EOTC’s , Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church , holy Synod has already put its hand in the genocide waged on people of Tigray, where the majority of the people are christians. According to Fiteha Negeset, book of ecclesiastial judiciary and canonical laws, bishops who worked with worldly leaders against their church and in serious crimes they don’t have right to excercise their normal religious sacred authority and couldn’ be accepted to have godly power and sanctity. One’ bishop can’t claim he is a bishop if he engaged in genocidal act either giving emotional or fiancial support like what EOTC synod did against the laity of EOTC in Tigray. These bishops and holy Synod of EOTC were repteadly notified so as to condemen the war waged against Tigrayan EOTC members and fathers of Tigrayan church. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.athew 11:21 And these bishops and holy synod are more to receive punishment from God than the laity of EOTC since word of god and alerte of genocide in Tigray were given to them beforehand. This Holy synod of EOTC should repent and ask forgiveness from God and surely from people of Tigray for their involvement in the genocide .Thousands of Priests and church scholars were brutally massacred soon after they left from church service, holy mass.some priests’ hands were amputated for holding holy cross in their hand. Whe all these war crimes were committed socalled mahibre kidusan aggregates of neftegna , are well aware of everything. Mahibrekidusan have members almost from all walks of life , in various public and religious servies that they trapped them in the name of God and religious service for their commerciam benefit. Mahibrekidusan has no right to condemn and threaten these bishops because it is a corrupted and genocidal association. Mahibrekidusan and other bishops are misuing the patriarch for their financial motives since the churches in Oromia will no longer give fraction of coins to these church leaders and aggregates of business men .If they were concerned about the church they should have condemned the crimes committed against the church in Tigray and Oromia . The business organization called itself Mahiberekidusan have gathered some unemployed religious scholars , bishops and many public servants who were trapped in universities as fresh men students in order to collect taxes later soon after they land a job and serve it as providers of secretive info in their workplace. This organization is more of a political organization have deployed many spies every where both in and outside the country. Don’t manipulate His Holiness Abune Mathias for your own commercial agenda . The church will not be divided just because these bishops establish their synod to serve their own people in their own language. They have been asking several years the holy synod dominated by tribalist amhara leaders . No one tend to entertain their sacred request. Jesus Christ revealed 72 languages to his disciples in order these dsciples preach the people in their own language. Oromo people don’t understand amharic and geez . They must find hagiographies and sacred books in their language. zemedikun and mahibrekidusan have legal and eccclesiastical authority to intimidate and give order to bishops. Oromia should not be under the leadership of amhara dominated church any longer . Fanos have massacred christians brutally. You cannot cry now for unity for financial reasons and to expand your territory .Oromos shouldnot give a single coin to amhara dominated church which don’t even wish to condemn the killings of Oromos. EOTC have no 3000 years long history , have no alphabet and language by its own, it is from Tigray church inherited . በጨዉ ደንደስ በርበሬ ተወደስ እንደሚባለዉ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቤተክርስቲያን ከትግራይ በወረሰችው ታሪክ ፊደል ግዕዝ ቋንቋ የሦስት ሺህ ዘመን ታሪክ ልሂቃኖቿ ለትግራይ ቤተክስቲያን ዕውቅና ሳይሰጡ የራሳችን ነው ብላዉ ሲ ፎክሩ ይሰማሉ፥ልጅን በጡት እህል በጥቅምት እንደሚባል ለረጅም አመታት የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ምዕመናን ከታናሽታቸው ጀምሮ ስለተነገሩ የራሳቸው እስከሚመሥል ድረስ በነፍጠኞቹ ልሂቃን ያንኑ የተነገሩትን እየደጋገሙ ሲያደነቁሩን ይታያሉ፥፥ሃይማኖታዊ ቀኖናዊ ፕላጃሪዝም ይሉሃል ይሄ ነው፥፥የቤክርስቲያን አገልጋዮች አሳዳጅና የነጋድያን ስብስብ እና የትግራይ ጀኖሳይድ ደጋፊ የሆነው ራሱን ማህበረ ቅዱሳን ብሎ የሚጠራው ድርዽት የቤተክርቲያኒቷ የበላይ አካላትን መዝለፍ ማስፈራራት መንፈሳዊ ሥልጣንና ብቃት የለዉም፥፥ ሃይማኖታዊ ቀኖናዊ ፕላጃሪዝም ይሉሃል ይሄ ነው፥፥የቤክርስቲያን አገልጋዮች አሳዳጅና የነጋድያን ስብስብ እና የትግራይ ጀኖሳይድ ደጋፊ የሆነው ራሱን ማህበረ ቅዱሳን ብሎ የሚጠራው ድርዽት የቤተክርቲያኒቷ የበላይ አካላትን መዝለፍ ማስፈራራት መንፈሳዊ ሥልጣንና ብቃት የለዉም፥፥ ይሁዳ በድሆች ስም ገንዘብ እየሰበሰበ ይሠርቅ ነበር እነዚህ ሰዎችም በቅድሥት ቤክርስያን አንድነት ስም የግል የሥልጣን ና የገንዘብ ጥማትን ማርካትን አላማ የተከተሉ ድብቅ አላማዎቻውን ግልፅ ወደ ጠረፔዛ ማምጣት የማይፈልጉ ቤተክርስያንን በቅኝ የሚገዙ የማፊያዎች ሥብሥብ ነው፥፥

      • Mahibrekidusan association dominated by neftegna and serving interest of neftegna

        January 24, 2023 at 5:11 pm

        Correction : Dn zemedikun and socalled mahibrekidusan whose practical name is mahibre connivers and plotters have no legal and eccclesiastical authority to intimidate and give order to bishops, high ranking ecclesiastical leaders .

  3. Autonomous Orthodox Tewahedo Church of Tigray must be preserved and nurtured

    January 23, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    Priests who survived the killings told the Telegraph the number of dead clergymen could be much higher than 78.Half a dozen survivors confirmed the news to this newspaper and said that both Ethiopian national army soldiers and Eritrean troops went into their holy spaces across southeast Tigray and “shot them down”
    There are reports of Ethiopian and Eritrea troops going out of their way to loot and destroy beloved churches, mosques and monasteries.
    By 28 November, two days before festivities would normally have begun, many people had gathered in the church to find refuge, worship, and protect what is believed to be the Ark of the Covenant from being stolen. According to a deacon at the church, soldiers burst into the church, dragging worshippers out and shooting at people as they tried to escape. The witness estimated that 800 people were massacred that weekend at the church and in the city.
    The massacre in and around Aksum was extensive and rampant. Aksum was soaked with the blood of its youth, mothers and fathers. I have seen it.
    When residents of Shashemane were killed , many people were saying « EOTC is undergoing a severe persecution », but they refused to acknowledge the massacres and sufferings of Tigrayan Orthodox Tewahedo church’s adherents, priests, scholars and deacons in Tigray .
    Considering the wholesale and indiscriminate massacre of Tegaru who are adherents of Tigray Orthodox Tewahedo church, its church scholars, leaders and deacons in the past 2 years, and the financial and emotional support of EOTC leaders to the genocidal regime of Abiy Ahmed ,the Tigrayan Orthodox Tewahedo church leaders have huge superabundance of reasons to establish autonomous Tigrayan church.

    Besides, the persecution of our forefathers in the past history of our church shouldn’t be neglected as well.

    Anti-christian traditions were also imported from other countries in order to make the massacre of our members of the church more effective,i.e somalia and eritrea.
    Our church leaders have repeatedly announced their standing publicly and fairly during those dark days when our people were massacred brutally, past 2 years. Unfortunately, our people are still undergoing endless massacre .Our Fathers justified themselves very well and don’t violate any ecclesiastical when introducing an indepedent Orthodox tewahedo church of Tigray. The church is a sacred place where Christians serve and praise God, head of the church. Ephesians 5:23
    However, regarding the newly formed synod in Oromia, it doesn’t look convincing. The justification brought to light by these church leaders could be boiled down only and only administrative matters .They should have brought their concerns and questions to the one-and-only holy synod and strived to solve this matter patiently. It is not an adequate matter to separate the church and form new synod, taking the justifications described here in this article. There are many preachers and church scholars who serve the Oromia church before this very date.No single church leader or member of parish church should prohibit the church to speak and lead the church service in their own language. The reason why priests and bishops lead the church service in amharic or any language is to serve the laity who don’t understand G’eez language . Therefore, laity need to be served in their own language.
    These bishops should have introduced their sorrows and concerns to the Patriarch of EOTC and its Holy Synod and made their separation public . Church should not be built in secrecy and in backyard .
    Our church of Tigray need to be an autonomous church, no need to cling to the church which waged genocide against our people. leaders of EOTC can’t tell us they don’t know the massacre that took place in Axum, Monastery of Mary ze Dengelat and other villages and towns of Tigray, when catholic churches were exposing the massacre to the world including prestigious media which brought the massacre of Tigrayans committed in total communications blackouts. No one hard of them condeming the massacre of Tegaru who were sponsoring the church for centuries and Tegaru are known for making ethiopia the oldest nation in the world by sharing their language,and civilization and history.
    Autonomous Orthodox Tewahedo church of Tigray should continue to detach itself from genocid church leaders of EOTC.

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