Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Synod Secretary Denied Entry into Ethiopia, Sparks Confusion and Anger Among Faithful
ESG – Solomon Kibriye – OCP News Service – 07/02/2024
Addis Ababa- Ethiopia: In a surprising turn of events that has sent shockwaves through the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church community, His Grace Abune Petros, the Secretary of the Ethiopian Holy Synod and Archbishop of New York and Its Surroundings, was denied entry into Ethiopia on February 6, 2024. The incident occurred at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa, as Abune Petros attempted to return after participating in religious festivities in the United States, including the annual feast of the Holy Trinity and Epiphany celebrations with his congregation. During his visit to New York, Abune Petros ordained 19 deacons, further cementing his role as a significant figure within the church community.
This denial of entry, particularly given Abune Petros’ stature within the church, has led to confusion and anger among the faithful. It comes at a time when the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been dealing with internal schisms, highlighted by the contrasting treatment of a former father associated with schismatic factions, who was allowed entry from Australia for ordination in Axum.
In an interview, Abune Petros suggested that the refusal was a deliberate move to sow discord among the church’s leadership. This assertion is underscored by prior warnings he received about potential difficulties in returning to Ethiopia. The incident, which resulted in the confiscation of his Ethiopian Green card by immigration authorities, has been interpreted as an effort to disrupt and destabilize the church’s operations.
The broader context of this event includes strained relations between the Ethiopian government and the Orthodox Church, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration being accused of fostering divisions within the church and conducting campaigns against its establishments, particularly in the Amhara and Tigray regions. Critics argue that the government’s actions are influenced by its alignment with Evangelical Protestantism’s “Prosperity Gospel” movement, contrasting sharply with the Orthodox Church’s traditions and influence.
This episode not only raises questions about the Ethiopian government’s commitment to religious freedom and unity but also highlights the ongoing tensions that could further alienate a significant segment of the country’s population. The expulsion of a key religious figure like Abune Petros underscores the complexities at the intersection of politics, religion, and ethnicity in Ethiopia, potentially exacerbating the challenges faced by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in maintaining its cohesion and authority amidst internal and external pressures.
Mahibere Kidusan Broadcast Service
Tewahedo Media Center