The controversies HaqCheck observed surfacing the Ethiopian social media landscape were related to the schism within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

Controversies arose regarding how the problem was solved and the status of the breakaway synod led by Abune Sawiros. Reports and claims that the breakaway bishops apologized to the Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church while others stated that the bishops had not apologized and the matter was settled through negotiation.

HaqCheck looked into the issue that how was the controversy within the Church settled and what the statements of the deal were signed to solve the schism.

The Background

On Jan 22, 2023, Abune Sawiros, Archbishop of South West Shoa, ordained and appointed 26 bishops without the recognition of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church.

Seventy bishops nominated by Abune Sawiros have been assigned to dioceses in the Oromia regional state.

The breakaway bishops led by Abune Sawiros announced they established the ‘Synod of Oromia and Ethiopian Nations and Nationalities’.

The breakaway bishops cited discriminations within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church against the Oromos and Afaan Oromo language for the establishment of their synod.

This arose intense controversy and tension within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s Synod immediately convened about the issue and denounced the bishops who participated in the appointment of the breakaway episcopate. The synod excommunicated Abune Sawiros and other bishops for ‘violating the church’s canonical orders’.

A few days later, the breakaway archbishops responded by condemning and excommunicating twelve Ethiopian Orthodox Church archbishops.

On Feb 15, 2023, the breakaway bishops and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Synod signed an agreement to settle the problem. An agreement was reached with the mediation of the Ethiopian government and the pact was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D.).

Terms of the agreement

The bishops agreed to use of Afaan Oromoo language in all churches across Oromia.

They also agreed to allocate a budget for the enhancement of the use of the Afaan Oromo Language and expand the human resources in the Oromia regional state so that clergies who speak the language could be dispatched.

The deal states that the Church agreed to open universities and colleges that teach theology in Afaan Oromo, to appoint bishops who speak the language of Oromia dioceses.

The breakaway bishops held a meeting after the deal was signed and stated that they accept the agreement. They stated that they didn’t violate the canonical law of the Church when they ordain bishops and form a synod a month earlier.

The Church gave a briefing that the breakaway bishops were still violating the laws of the Church even after the deal was signed.

A day later, they both announced that they would comply with the agreement signed on Feb 15, 2023.


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