Pope Francis asks for prayer for persecuted Christians in Ethiopia

Courtney Mares | Catholic News Agency
Nov 03, 2019
Pope Francis greets Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Mathias Feb. 29, 2016. (Vatican Media via CNA)

Pope Francis Sunday asked for prayer for persecuted Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, who have been targeted in ongoing ethnic clashes that have left 78 people dead.

“I am saddened by the violence of which Christians of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia are victims,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Nov. 3.

“I express my closeness to this beloved church and her patriarch, dear brother Abune Mathias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land,” he said.

Since violent protests broke out in Ethiopia’s Oromia region Oct. 23, more than 400 people have been arrested and 78 have died, according to the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Orthodox Christian community has been a target of violence in Oromia. A church official told AFP Africa that 52 Orthodox Ethiopians, including two church officials, have been killed in the violence since the protests began in October.

Hand grenades were thrown into churches in Bale Robe and Dodola, and the homes and businesses of Christians have been set on fire, according to local Ethiopian Borkena news.

The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Abune Mathias delivered a speech Oct. 28 calling for peace and grieving the dead.

“I carry a cross in my hand, not a gun. My children, I am tearfully praying to our God about your suffering. I am also continuing to plead with the government,” Mathias said, according to local Ethiopian media.

“Today I am deeply grieved. I have the urge to weep like a child … In the hopes day to day for improvement, we have been asking the government to put a stop to it. However we have seen nothing change,” the patriarch said.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the 100th Noble Peace Prize in October for leading peacekeeping efforts to end the 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Violent protests began within Ethiopia less than 2 weeks after.

The protests were sparked by an allegation by political activist Jawar Mohammed that the Ethiopian government had attempted to arrest him.

The Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church met with Ethiopian government officials to Oct. 26 to call for peace and dialogue in the face of the violence. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church also called for three days of prayer and fasting for peace.

“God is with us,” Orthodox priest Markos Gebre-Egziabher said at a memorial service Oct. 26 for Christians killed in Addis Ababa, according to AFP.

“If they come with machetes, we will go with crosses,” Father Markos said.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. These Churches reject the 451 Council of Chalcedon, and its followers were historically considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Pope Francis met with Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Mathias in Feb. 2016, and expressed his condolences for the Ethiopian Christians executed by Islamic State militants in Libya in April 2015.

In an emotional speech Oct. 28, Patriarch Mathias told his persecuted community in Ethiopia:

“While I was preaching to you about peace, those that do not know peace have deprived you of peace. My children, do not hold a grudge on me. Do not think I am silent to your plight. I always weep for you. Lord, send your Judgement, or come down to us.”

1 COMMENT

  1. NOT ONE PROPERTY KNOWN TO BE BELONGING TO OROMO BY THE ATTACKERS WAS TOUCHED, EVEN IF OROMO PERSON DIED IT WAS BECAUSE THE OROMO PERSON WAS
    ACCIDENTALLY FOUND IN NON-OROMO PERSON’S PROPERTY, AUTOMATICALLY THE ATTACKERS ASSUMED THE PERSON WAS NON-OROMO BECAUSE OF THE PLACE HE WAS FOUND.

    This speech was warning by Oromo extremist symphatizer directed at reporters journalists not to report the truth about the dead people’s identity to international medias, locals know the truth .

    Few of those ones who the family members picked their dead bodies up, took home to bury avoiding paying bills for medical examiner ambulance or other medical costs were the ones reported as 50 dead Oromos.

    Those bodies picked up with public or Street cleaning took to where paperwork about their identities was documented are not called Oromos.

    Many others who perished are not even counted in his report.

    If PM Abiy was not a fraud about the so called reform and if he sides with the truth he should make available to the free journalists presses Or other concerned bodies the addresses of the victims/family members , the victims full name , the victims age and maybe after that their ethnicity too, all these should have been done for each of the people he reported dead now .It cannot be difficult for him to know their name age addresses while he knew their ethnicity.

    His job as a PM now was to make sure information is available for journalists not to be INSA agent info distorter just like old times, old habits die hard.

    Even some picture and their life story would be appropriate for reporters journalists to have access to so they can report the legacies of those lost, reporters should have free access to interview by contacting the families at whichever shelter they are hiding in since their homes were burnt.

    How many homes burnt should be reported too, along with to who the homes burnt belonged to should be reported by the free press. All that got video camera should try to document the victims story , victims both who died or who survived still alive to.tell their stories deserve their stories heard by the world more than they need material help or food.

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