Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Fourth Patriarch Dies
Source: Globe News Net
March 5, 2022
The fourth patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahido Orthodox church, has died, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Friday.
Abune Merkorios was appointed by the Dergue regime to head the church in 1988 after the death of his predecessor Abune Takla Haymanot who had been at odds with Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam and the Dergue regime for much of his time; Abune Teklehaymanot in 1988 decided to commit himself to a rigorous hunger strike in protest of Dergue’s incursions in church affairs and use of Napalm gas that year in the devastating bombardments inside Tigray and in Eritrea, facilitating the patriarch’s death.
Abune Merkorios remained Patriarch of the church for three years until 1991, when the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) overthrew the Dergue Communist military junta. Abune Merkerios was also a ranking member of Dergue’s national council, according to accounts about him.
Abune Merkorios was forced to abdicate in 1991 in relation to his direct ties with the Dergue regime. He was given two options i.e to live in Entoto monastery as a monk with all privileges fulfilled; or to go exile; he chose the later and the EPRDF moved him to Kenya to choose his way; he finally settled in the United States and led a breakaway church. Another patriarch Abune Pawlos was elected following Merkorios’ exile.
Abune Markorios returned to Ethiopia from his 27-year-exile in 2018 following a reunification of the two rival wings in a process overseen by Abiy.
After the reconciliation, there were two patriarch in Ethiopia.
Abiy described his death as “a heavy damage” as he “was looking and meditating at things and helping our country with prayer.”
“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of the fourth patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church,” Abiy said on Twitter.
The US Embassy in Addis Ababa sent message of condolence upon his death.
The residing Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahido Orthodox Church, Abune Mathias, Tigrayan by ethnicity, has been under house arrest since the war on Tigray erupted in November 2020; he has been blocked from making speeches, conducting interviews, making public appearances, forcing him to release a recorded video through the help of Director of an aid charity May last year where he was heard condemning the atrocities on Tigrayans which he explicitly called it ‘genocide‘.