Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (EOTC) is one of the ancient apostolic churches, having multi million followers with in and out side Ethiopia. This historic church has flourished for more than 1,600 years in the country, serving its followers and fulfilling the orders of Christ. It has also contributed significant share for the civilization of the country. The educational, health, economic, political, social and many other affairs of the country were significantly handled by the church scholars. Spiritual fathers even were playing fundamental role in defending the country against foreign invasion. The history of the priests who marched to Adwa, carrying the Arc of St Giorgis and the patriotic death of the archbishop martyr Abune Petros are some of the testimonies to this premise.
Recently however, the news being aired about the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church is being scary and gloomy. The Holly synod of the church is splited in two: one in the country and the other abroad. The synod in Addis Ababa has ex communicated the synod abroad, and vice versa. Racism is said to be deep rooted problem in the church .Some administrators and even bishops of church are also said to be highly corrupted. To this end, members of the holly synod have been accusing the unpopular Patriarch Abune Paulos. Though Ato Abay Tsehaye, State security and intelligence advisor, is said to have created concord and platform, the group of archbishops which is master minded by Abune Samuel, is still opposing Patriarch Abune Paulos and is requesting for administrative reformation. (1)
To curb this, it has been reported that supporters of Abune Paulos have created a lot of mace. The house of the archbishops, who protested Abune Paulos administration, was broken by “unknown” gangs. The rest archbishops were intimidated and harassed. When the dust seems settled, for the time being with the opposing archbishops, the wave of attack targeted the spiritual youth association which is suspected of being supporter of the opponent archbishop group. The patriarch, the intelligence advisor of the state, the federal affairs minister and some official of the church called for an emergency meeting and passed amazing decision against Mahibere Kidusan, one of the strong spiritual associations EOTC had. (2)
The crimes of Mahibere Kidusan according to pro Patriarch Paulo’s Groups:
The incident was like this. All of a sudden Aba Sereke Birhan, the newly appointed head for the Sunday School Department of EOTC, started questioning Mahibere Kidusan. With in few days, he called for a meeting to resolve the administrative problem encountered with this association.Ato Abay Tsehaye, the intelligence and security advisor of the state and Dr Shiferahu Tekle Mariam , federal affairs minister were invited to settle this administrative problem between the department head and the association (3) . One can imagine how much silly can it be when officials at ministry level are invited to participate on the meeting which was intended to resolve the administrative problem between one spiritual association and its department head. The actual reason was far beyond that, actually.
On the meeting Aba Sereke, accused Mahibere Kidusan for many seemingly administrative things. Addis Admas and Addis Neger has reported upon the issue extensively .Hereunder are some of the major crimes Mahibere Kidusan committed as per the officials (4)
1. በ1993 በቅድስት ማርያም በተ ክርስትያን ለመጠለል የመጡ ተማሪዎች በፖሊስ ሲወሰዱ በተ ክርስትያን መጠለያ ባልመስጠትዋ አፍረናል ብለው በጋዙጣቸው መገግለጫ አወጡIt is beyond funny when Aba Sereke accuses Mahibere Kidusan for reporting the unfairness of the agreement to hand over students who were sheltered in Saint Marry church in 1993, on its newspaper Simea Tsidk. During that time, the students don’t want to participate on any kind of violence and went to the church of Saint Marry, in search of peace. Other students also went to another place for the same purpose. But those students who were in Saint Mary church was taken by security force and thrown to different jails. This was ridiculous. Reporting this was crime of Mahibere Kidusan for Aba Sereke and the officials.
2. there is a sign that the executive members of Mahibere Kidusan are inclining towards politics
3. The news paper of this association is trying to create gap between the government and the followers of EOTC. The evidence according to them was the commentary posted about the last census
4. The association is trying to create again gap in between the fathers (?) of the church and the followers of the religion
The validity and the reliability of the result of the recent census conducted in Ethiopia was also questionable for many citizens and any logical person. For reason which is hard to accept, millions are missing. Besides, the issue whether monks, hermits and nuns who are living in far places and in accessible monasteries and nunneries are counted or not was also under debatable question. Shedding light upon this issue was a crime Mahibere Kidusan committed for Aba Sereke and the officials.
Archbishops’ house was broken, for the simple reason that they opposed the corruption, racism and other unethical deeds in the church. Even some were intimidated and harassed. Opposing this open crime is again wrong as per the eyes of the “enlightened” officials.
Despite the strong opposition and evidence Mahibere Kidusan portrayed for not involving in politics, the ministers have insisted it has shown inclination. Ato Abay has also given warning for it: a warning for no valid reason.
Recent propagandas against Mahibere Kidusan
Pro government Medias,fans of the Patriarch’s and others are posting different article about Mahibere Kidusan since then. Aiga forum, Pro EPRDF government web page has posted the following analysis regarding the secret network between Addis Neger newspaper (notorious newspaper according to them) and Mahibere Kidusan.
“አዲስ ነገር የተመሰረተችው ከተመሳሳይ ሙያ የፈለሱ ተመሳሳይ እድሜ ባላቸው፣የተቀራረቡ የትምህርት ደረጃና ተመሳሳይ የፖለቲካ አቋም ባላቸውChristian and Muslim “religions scholars” have opened new web pages and blogs to denounce Mahibere Kidusan. Mahibere Erkusan is the blog opened by the “Muslim elites” and Mahibere Seytan is of the concerned Christians. These scholars of different faith are speaking the same language to express the sinof Mahibere Kidusan. The” Muslim” blog express Mahibere Kidusan like this:
ሰዎች ነው፡፡ በርካታዎቹ አምደኞችና አዘጋጆች ቀደም ሲል የቤተ ክህነት
ዲያቆናት የነበሩ፣ የማህበረቅዱሳን አባላትና በቅንጅት ዙሪያ የተሰባሰቡ
የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች አባላትና ጠንካራ ደጋፊዎች የነበሩ ሰዎች ናቸው ፡፡
ከዚህ አንፃር በሕትመቶቹ ይዘት ላይ በጉልህ
ተፅፎ የሚታየው የአዲስ ነገር ድርጅታዊ ባህል ፀረ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ፣ ሁሉን
ኮናኝ (Nihilist) ፀረ-ስርአተኛ (anti establishment) እና ጽልመተኛዊ
መሆኑ አያጠያይቅም፡፡ የሚንቀሳቀሱበት ድርጅታዊ ባህልም ዴሞክራሲያዊ
ስርዓቱን የማፍረስ ተልእኮና ግቦች ያሉት ጥርሱ ተበልቶ ያለቀ የአሮጌ
ባህል መዘውር ተደርጎ ለወሰድ ይችላል ፡፡ ይህ የአዲስ ነገር ፀለምተኛና፣
ፀረ ሥርአት ዝንባሌ በዴሞክራሲያዊ አገሮች ፕሬሶች የመንግስትን
ክንዋኔዎች በመተቸት ከሚያቀርቧቸው መጣጥፎች ጋር አንዳችም
ተመሳሳይነት እንደሌለው መጤን ይኖርበታል፡” (5)
“This is to expose the real objective behind the so called mahabera 'Qudusan'. While mehaber means association in Amharic Qudusan stands for holy. The association portrays itself as a religious organization, but its activities proves that its objective is political and mainly to subjugate Muslims. In fact due to its anti-Islam and anti-Muslim activities many call it mehabera-erkusan (the cursed-association). It plays a very sophisticated political game and to make sure the superiority of the Church and the revival of the old monarchies. Some of the political parties are even under the mercy of this fanatic organization…. This association is well financed and well organized that even many Muslims recently claim that the government is reflecting its influence. They are behind the recent provocations and it is the core of Christian islandists. In fact many claim that they have already overtaken the guideline of many governmental sects (especially educational institutions) and they are closer than ever to effectively overtake the power.” (6)
Ethiomuslim webpage columnist have also expressed its view for Mahibere Kidusan like this
“Mahbera Qidusan is a band of illogical, anti-Ethiopia dabtaras who happen to get some kind of uncritical western academics” 7
The other dedicated “orthodox Christian’s” on their new blog, with the name Mahibere Kidusan weys Mahibere Seytan, also warn that this association is a political organization. A new book is also published in title Mahibere Kidusan weys Mahibere Seytan by these concerned “orthodox Christians”. It is amazing when Muslim scholars and Christian scholars agree and share the same term to accuse a Christian orthodox association for this and that story. The protestant pastors have also showed their hatred for this association .The International Christian Concern, citing Christian pastors in Ethiopia has also reported like this:
“Christian sources said a group within the EOC called "Mahibere Kidusan" ("Fellowship of Saints")…. The increasingly powerful group's purpose is to counter all reform movements within the EOC and shield the denomination from outside threats.” (8)
In a nut shell, many “concerned religious bodies” are repeating Ato Abay Tsehaye's sentence in different words. Though the name of the organizations differs, the idea they generate is the same. Even the words they used to denounce Mahibere Kidusan are similar. It seems that they originate from the same root source. .
The Suspected Invisible Plot
Long before, the popular Ethiopian webpage ECAD9 forum has exposed governments plan to arrest prominent religious leaders. No question that this plan targets Mahibere Kidusan members. Deje Selam another spiritual blog on its October 21, issue has posted the sad news to that end
“የመንግሥት የደህንነት መሥሪያ ቤት ቅዱስ ሲኖዶስን ለመጫን በቤተ ክርስቲያናቱ የውስጥ ተግባር በገቡበት ጉዳይ ዛሬ ከስድስት የማያንሱ ብፁዓን አባቶችን ለጊዜው ቦታውን ወዳላወቅነው ቦታ በመውሰድ ነገ በሚጀመረው ስብሰባ ላይ ስለ ብፁዕ አቡነ ሳሙኤልም ሆነ ስለ ማህበረ ቅዱሳን ምንም እንዳይናገሩ ማስጠንቀቂያ መስጠታቸውን ምንጮቻችን ገለፁ።” (9)
Many things are getting very clear now. Though the constitution prohibits any government involvement in religious activities, practically government bodies are dictating as to what religious leaders should discuss and what not, in the holly synod. I don’t think so that even the then Marxist government did this. Why do government requested the archbishops not to raise the issue of Mahibere Kidusan on their meeting? It is self explanatory. After few days arrest news on targeted members of this association like Dn Daniel Kibret will be announced.
Its Dangerous Aftermath
I know different bodies have different attitudes about Mahibere Kidusan. Despite what so ever feelings and attitudes we have however, no one denies the significant contribution this association made to EOTC. This association, hand in hand with different concerned bodies, has established Gibie Gubaes in every higher learning institutions of Ethiopia. For the first time in Ethiopian History of Ethiopia, Mahibere Kidusan has prepared spiritual curriculum and structured spiritual education for these institution students. One can state many achievements the association did: the books, magazines, tracts, newspapers and etc published; the projects implemented for different ancient monasteries, the spiritual songs released , the web pages constructed, the radio station started and so on.
Attacking Mahibere Kidusan is attacking all these sacred objectives and deeds. By the time when every religious institution is so organized to steal sheep, weakening and eventually dismantling the churches strong youth structure do have its own negative impact for the church .Every follower of Tewahido Christian, despite what so ever difference we have, shall fight this attempt.
The government bodies should also think upon what they are doing critically. Dismantling a peaceful spiritual association which do have around 50,000 highly educated members may have its own grave consequence. Their irresponsible act is leading many youths to another extreme end. Many members are expressing their anger through various means since the very beginning of this attempt. It may even lead to other crises in the country since government officials are intimidating innocent youths who have never involved in any type of conspiracy except exercising their religion peacefully. Government may boast for crushing so many political riots and parties and consider dismantling Mahibere Kidusan as a simple task. It is advisable if the government thinks upon it again and again.
The zeal and anger every member is exhibiting now is a huge potential for the association too. Members are seen and heard expressing their commitment more than any other time. In the mean time, the nation from east up to west has got the opportunity to truly know who Mahibere Kidusan is Those at the leading position of this association should devise method to tap this huge resource to the betterment of the church.
3. Addis Neger News paper , Meskerem 16, 2009
4. Addis Admas, October 04,2009