OCP News Service – 1/8/21
Global: The first quarter of 2021 marked the 14th year of illegal detention of the Canonical Patriarch Abune Antonios of Eritrea. His Holiness Abune Antonios is the 3rd Patriarch of the ancient Eritrean Orthodox Church.
Detention- Under the supervision of the Afwerki regime, a secret session of the Holy Synod in January 2006 at Asmara formally removed Patriarch from his office and on 20th January. Two priests accompanied by Government security forces invaded Patriarch’s residence and confiscated his personal pontifical insignia. This was in response to the decision made by Abune Antonios to keep the Church away from the influence of the regime.
Violating the church canons and constitution, the government installed Bishop Dioscoros of Mendefera as the anti-patriarch on 27th May 2007 (Dioscoros passed away in 2016). Abune Antonios on the same day was forced to move out of his office and has been detained ever since in the capital city of Asmara.
In 2019 Abune Antonios was falsely expelled from the Church by a group of top bishops. They accused him of heresy, a move that was part of the ongoing authoritarian propaganda programs by the Eritrean government.
Moreover in June 2021, the Church consecrated Abune Kerlos (Cyril) as the 5th Patriarch of the Church. However, Abune Antonios is considered the canonical Patriarch rest of the Orthodox Churches.
In 2020 and 2021 several Christian prisoners were released by the Afwerki regime. Lamentably, the case of Abune Antonios remains unresolved, irrespective of efforts made by various international bodies.
OCP News Service