The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Formally Declares an End to the 27-Year-Old Schism (Updated)

The celebration at St. Michael’s Cathedral after the announcement of reunification. Song- ‘Ethiopia Stretches Her Hands to the Lord, from the Psalms of David, and the Imperial era Moto of the Ethiopian Empire.’

Solomon Kibriye (Editor – Ethiopian Affairs) – OCP News Service – 27/7/18
Special Courtesy – Archdeacon Tesfa Mikael Williams (News Editor – Ethiopian Affairs)

USA– The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Formally Declares an end to the 27-Year-Old Schism, and recognizes one Holy Synod, and two Canonical Patriarchs. Amid great pomp and jubilation at Washington D.C.’s Debre Mihret St. Michael’s Cathedral, assembled hierarchs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church have officially proclaimed an end to the 27-year-old schism that has split this ancient Church. 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.

Live – Press Conference on Ethiopian Orthodox Church Reconciliation from Washington DC

Abune Abraham, Archbishop of Bar Dar and Eastern Gojjam, in the name of the single Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church proclaimed the following key points in the declaration -UPDATED TEXT

1. His Holiness Patriarch Abunä Merkorios

It is well known that, due to the change in government in Ethiopia in 1983 (EC) [1991 (GC)], the one holy Church was divided into two, and from the one Synod two Synods led by two Patriarchs were formed. Because of this, the fourth Patriarch, His Holiness Abunä Merkorios, lived in exile for more than two decades. Therefore, concerning the status of the two holy Patriarchs, the peacemakers representing both Synods decided the following after much discussion together about the unity and peace of the holy Church.

A. His Holiness Patriarch Abunä Merkorios, will return to the holy land of Ethiopia with the rank and dignity of Patriarch, and resume the patriarchal throne.

B. 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.

C. In regard to his duties, His Holiness Patriarch Abunä Merkorios will serve the church through prayer and benediction.

1.1 His Holiness Patriarch Abunä Mathias

A. According to the laws of the holy Church, His Holiness Patriarch Abune Mathias will lead the church by carrying out administrative duties.

B. He shall also serve the holy Church through prayer and benediction.

1.2 The names of both holy Patriarchs will always be raised in prayers in all Ethiopian Orthodox Churches around the world.

1.3 As long as both holy Patriarchs are alive, our holy Church will regard their patriarchal honour as equal .

1.4 As of the date of this agreement, the designations of the exiled Synod and native Synod are abolished, and there is only Church: the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

2. Violations of Canon Law
Due to violations of canon law, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been experienced trying times. In order to make this known, the delegations have agreed that as of the date that the second Patriarch, His Holiness Abune Theophilos, was handed over to die, the church has suffered under a state of violation of her canon law until this day. For this reason, in the preceding years, the holy synod, whether that which is within the country or the synod outside [the country], has been unable to protect the dignity and rights of the holy Church.

They have been unable to take responsibility and console the heartbroken children of the holy Orthodox Tewahedo Church that was caused by the Church’s schism the mistakes made. So moving with the times, the delegates have agreed unanimously ask for the forgiveness of the living and the deceased.

Therefore, the delegates have agreed unanimously, once the two synods have been united, these violations of canon law are not to be repeated. And a plenary meeting of the Holy Synod will enact regulations in line with Church law and order, so that the sovereignty of the holy Church should be preserved and continued.

3. The Former Archbishops
In regard to the Archbishops who were consecrated before the schism, the delegates have agreed unanimously that the excommunications enacted against them by each synod are lifted by the Holy Synod, and that their names and dignity are defended. They will be appointed to dioceses as befits their rank.

4. The Archbishops, Bishops and Chorbishops That Were Consecrated after the Schism
In regard to the Archbishops, Bishops and Chorbishops that were consecrated on either side after the schism, the delegates have agreed unanimously that the Holy Synod will accept them with the names they have received, and they will be appointed to serve in either an internal or external diocese [i.e. one within or without Ethiopia]. Concerning the appellation of those with shared names, the delegates have agreed unanimously that they shall be designated with the numeric dignities according to the precedence of their consecration: “the first (I)”, “the second (II)”, “the third (III)”, etc.

5. The Excommunications
It is known that due to the disputes, that excommunications were enacted by each synod against the other. Therefore, the delegates have agreed unanimously that, after this agreement, these be lifted by a plenary meeting of the Holy Synod.

6. The Aims of the Holy Church Outside Ethiopia with regard to the Preparation of Organisational Administration.
It is known that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has spread all around the world wherever her children are found. Nevertheless, the delegates agreed that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church which is located abraod must preserve its unity dignity and abide by canon law along with the mother Church.

Therefore, the delegates have agreed unanimously that the Holy Synod will prepare [a revised version of] the Kale Awadi [Regulations of the Parish Administration] and guidelines that affirm the sovereignty of Church law in compliance with the laws of each country. Likewise, the delegates have agreed that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church which is located abraod must receive guidelines with regard to Church order and organisational administration from one Holy Synod and be led by one Holy Synod.

Moreover, the delegates of both synods have agreed unanimously to put the agreement of reconciliation into effect, complete the union of both synods, return the exiled fathers to their motherland, Ethiopia, consolidate the former peace and unity and have the delegates of both synods follow up and prepare the preconditions under which all will be administered by one Holy Synod.

The 19th of Hamle, 2010 (EC) [The 26th of July,2018 (GC)], Washington D.C.

Recognizing that the the country was in recent years in a fearfully endangered situation, and that this situation was reversed by the prayers of the monastics and the faithful, together with efforts of the Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, who has also worked hard to restore peace in the country and the unity of the Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod expresses it’s deep appreciation and thanks to him, and prays that all his years in state responsibility are time of peace, love, unity, progress and prosperity.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church expresses its deep gratitude to all the members of the reconciliation committees that have over the past years continued to work hard towards reconciliation and unity, and also to the delegations of fathers sent by the two synods to carry out this reconciliation so that the Holy Church can protect the freedom, dignity, unity and peace of it’s flock.

May the Lord God grant our country Ethiopia Peace and Love, and protect our holy Church. Glory to God!

Declared on this 19th day of Hamle, 2010 (July 26,2018) at Washington D.C. at Debre Mehret, St. Michael’s Cathedral.

OCP News Service