The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church formally declared an end to schism, and recognized one Holy Synod and two Canonical Patriarchs ending a period that was painful for Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora. 

By Peter Kenny (WCC) |

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Christian Churches, one of Christianity’s oldest and has been in Africa since 330 AD, so there was joy and celebrations when on 27 July it declared an end to a 27-year-old schism that had torn it apart.

The rapprochement took place thousands of kilometers from the north east African country with a ceremony of pomp, jubilation and ululation at Washington D.C.’s Debre Mihret St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, who played a key role in the reconciliation, was present.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, a member church of the World Council of Churches (WCC), formally declared an end to schism, and recognized one Holy Synod and two Canonical Patriarchs ending a period that was painful for Ethiopians at home and in the diaspora.

WCC program executive and convener for Africa, Dr Nigussu Legesse, was involved in the reconciliation process between the two synods of the church that split into two in 1991 as a result of the political change that forced the former Patriarch, Abune Merkorios to live in exile in the United States.

The service in Washington assembled hierarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church who officially proclaimed an end to the schism. The ceremony afterwards took place in the historic Watergate Hotel.

“After years in which the church was split between an ‘Addis Ababa Synod’, a ‘Synod in Exile’, with two rival patriarchs, the two groups have now united into one single Holy Synod, and the schism is now officially over,” Abune Abraham, Archbishop of Bar Dar and Eastern Gojjam said while reading a declaration, the OCP News Service said on July 27.

Two patriarchs

According to the laws of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Patriarch Abune Mathias will lead the church by carrying out administrative duties.

Patriarch Abunä Merkorios will return to Ethiopia with the rank and dignity of Patriarch, and resume the patriarchal throne.

“When His Holiness Patriarch Abunä Merkorios returns to his homeland, Ethiopia, an appropriate residence within the Patriarchate shall be prepared for him together with all things that are needed for him to live in dignity,” said the declaration.

Continue reading this story at World Council of Churches (WCC)
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