Ethiopian Court Orders Arrest of Two U.S.-Based Archbishops Ahead of Holy Synod Meeting

Ethiopian Court Orders Arrest of Two U.S.-Based Archbishops Ahead of Holy Synod Meeting

Abune Yacob and Abune Theophilos

Deacon Solomon Kibriye and Archdeacon Tesfa Mikael Williams (Ethiopian Affairs)- OCP News Service– 24/05/2024

Washington DC – United States: Reports are coming out that an Ethiopian court has ordered the arrest of two Archbishops of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the United States ahead of the general meeting of the Holy Synod expected to start next week in Addis Ababa. The hierarchs whose arrests have been ordered are His Eminence Abune Theophilos – Archbishop of North California, Arizona, and Nevada, and His Eminence Abune Yacob – Archbishop of Atlanta, Georgia and Its Surroundings.

The court has been hearing a case in absentia brought by the Ethiopian government against His Eminence Abune Lukas, Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop of Eastern Australia and New Zealand alleging that he has incited rebellion against the ruling party and threatened the Prime Minister’s life. In connection with this case, the court has now ordered the arrest and trial of Abune Theophilos and Abune Yacob for conspiracy and cooperation with Abune Lukas. Both accused Archbishops in the United States are U.S. citizens and were expected to travel to Ethiopia for the Holy Synod meeting next week.

The authorities have been instructed to arrest them both upon arrival if they do so. It is to be recalled that Abune Petros, General Secretary of the Holy Synod and Archbishop of New York and its Surroundings, was refused re-entry into Ethiopia in February after His Grace made a pastoral trip to his Archdiocese, and was returned back to New York. Relations between the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed have deteriorated significantly over recent years as Orthodox Christians find themselves increasingly excluded from government positions and benefits, the devastating wars between the government and the predominantly Orthodox Amhara and Tigrayan regions, and government inspired attempts to split the church along ethnic lines.

All three of these senior hierarchs of the church are outspoken defenders of the unity of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and are critical of the government’s failure to stop atrocities against Orthodox Christians across the country.

There are now concerns that these charges are a prelude to further hostile actions by the government and its supporters during the upcoming meeting of the Holy Synod.

OCP News Service

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