Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church Criticises PM Ahmed Amid Tensions

Ethiopia's Orthodox Church Criticises PM Amid Tensions (News Central TV)

The highest echelons of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church, the nation’s largest religious body, have threatened to organise national demonstrations that will be addressed by the patriarch, Abuna Mathias.

The Orthodox church has reacted negatively to recent remarks made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed regarding rogue clergy who were involved in the nomination of bishops without the church’s consent.

Following the church’s synod’s excommunication of the rebel clerics, who are from the nation’s Oromia region, Abiy delivered a lengthy speech that was aired on national television on Tuesday.

He warned his cabinet members against getting involved in the church’s affairs. However, he said both sides “have truths.”

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The synod said the PM’s remarks disregarded its decisions, challenged its authority and gave recognition to an “illegitimate power-hungry” group.

Some of Abiy’s statements were “misleading”, it added.

The church is allegedly sustaining a system of linguistic and cultural hegemony in which Oromian congregations are not served in their native tongues, according to the dissident clergy. The church disputes the charge.

After visiting several districts in the conflict-prone western Oromia, the breakaway clergy said they had “overwhelming” public backing.

The synod’s announcement comes amid claims from the faithful that the church is aiding the rebellious clergy.

It accuses the government of harassing and detaining its senior figures. It vows to continue to speak out even if they [senior religious leaders] have to “sacrifice their lives.”

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Early on in his presidency, Mr. Abiy’s administration enjoyed good relations with the church, which claims to have believers representing nearly half of Ethiopia’s 110 million people.

Members of the Christian community, however, have claimed to have come under attack recently.

When the Tigray war was at its worst, relations were especially strained after Abuna Mathias spoke out against what he called genocide in the area.

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