OCP News Service
OCP Delegation Meets IMOC Delegate to Ethiopian Orthodox Church Read More here:
Fr Dr Jossi Jacob Faculty and head of the Post Graduate programmee at Holy Trinity Theological College in Ethiopia was interviewed by Mr George Alexander (Secretary & Spokesperson of OCP Society). Fr Dr Jossi briefs on Ethiopian Orthodox Church, its mission, theological education, monasteries, late Patriarch Abune Pulose and so on. Fr Dr Jossi is also the Indian Malankara Orthodox Church delegate to to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims its earliest origins to by Philip the Evangelist one of the seven deacons who appears several times in the Acts of the Apostles.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the ancient Churches in the world with a current membership of 45 million within Ethiopia and rest in the diaspora. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church enjoys special status within Ethiopia. It is the largest of all Oriental Orthodox church and second largest Orthodox Church in the world just behind the Russian Orthodox.
Late Patriarch Abuna Paulose
Patriarch Abune Paulose was a person of great vision who revamped the administration of the Ethiopian church to higher professional levels. The Patriarch played an important role in restoring reconciliation with the Coptic Church, also in maintaining peace and prosperity in Ethiopia. The Patriarch maintained good ties with government and with sister Orthodox Churches. The Patriarch was a great scholar and man of immense love and wit.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church posses three Theological Colleges namely Holy Trinity Theological College, St Paul’s Theological College (Addis Ababa) and St. Frumentius Theological College (situated in Mek’ele 650 km away from Addis Ababa). Holy Trinity Theological College is the major institution which provide Diploma, Bachelors degree and from this year Masters degree in Theology. Holy Trinity Theological College In Addis Ababa has day and evening batch of students. The evening batch is open to lay men and Priests. There has been a great motivation for the laymen to study theology and the Ethiopian Church encourages this attitude. There is a regular batch of 200 students (all together for four years) in Holy Trinity College and an evening batch of 240 students. Admissions are only open to members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which includes men, women and Clergy. The Holy Trinity Theological College plans to expand itself to a University College and finally a full fledged University. New building has been constructed within the College campus to accommodate the growing number of students.
Seminary’s are considered to be minor training centers and the Ethiopian Church still follows monastery and church oriented basic formation for Clergy. The Church and monasteries act as Clergy training centers.
Ethiopian Tradition, Icons, Churches and Monasteries
The Ethiopian Church has a great Enthusiasm in presenting Church art, iconography and ancient artifacts in natural way. The Ethiopians are very proud and particular in preserving their traditions. The icons and other artifacts of the Church are preserved in a natural way. They are preserved in monasteries and churches themselves in their original form. Even though there are museums the Church has an active interest in preserving its antiquity. The Ethiopian Orthodox monastic system is very strong and they also act as centers of iconography training. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is very committed to preserve Eco-system. Each Church and monastery has small forest attached to them and the Late Patriarch Abuna Paulose was particular about maintaining the ecological balance.
Ethiopian Orthodox Mission
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has its won missions and spreads the mission in diaspora region. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has got a very strong mission in the Caribbean Islands. Around sixty Anglican congregations joined the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in South Africa. The end of colonial rule in Africa and the importance ‘Africanism’ made these people to think more about their cultural roots and reviving their traditional christian faith and they could easily find it in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church which have its own African indigenous nature, culture traditions and history.
The Church- Government Relations
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church enjoys special privilege in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church along with the Islamic community is the only two religious groups that are exempted from any kind of governmental registration. All other religious organizations must be registered as NGO with the Ethiopian government.
Inter-Orthodox Relations of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Ethiopia has the presence of Coptic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox (Alexandrian Orthodox Patriarchate) communities. The Coptic Orthodox Church has maintained a permanent office in the capital city. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church enjoys fraternal relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches. It had good ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Metropolitan Petros of the Greek Orthodox community in Ethiopia share fraternal relations with the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate. The Patriarch has also met Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church and discussed the possibility of sending Ethiopian Theological student to Russian Orthodox Universities for education and training. Abuna Pulose had began to work for great council of Oriental Orthodox Churches. The last council was held under the Patronage of H H Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa in the year
There exist working relations with the Ethiopian Catholic Rite and Latin Catholic Church. The Ethiopia Orthodox community does not have much interest in the Ethiopian Catholic Rite. There are several evangelical denominations and the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches does not enjoy good relations with these communities as they target Orthodox Christians and convert them giving money and other material benefits. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has maintained historical respect with the Anglican Church.The Anglican Church had signed a document with the late His Majesty Haile Selassie I the late Emperor of Ethiopia which prevents conversion of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians to Anglican Church. Though the document does not have any legal validity now, but the Anglican Church still adheres to the same.
OCP News Service