His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has sent a message to the Patriarch Catholicos of Ethiopia, Abune Mathias, expressing support with regard to the tragic events related to the attempts of a group of schismatics to carry out a schism in the Ethiopian Church.
His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch-Catholicos of Ethiopia
Your Holiness, beloved Brother in Christ!
I cordially greet You and express my sincere condolences in the days of sorrowful challenges that have once again befallen the Ethiopian Church. I am deeply saddened by the news of the hardships the Ethiopian Christians are enduring, who, in the current difficult circumstances, are resisting the schism and are striving to remain faithful to their Church.
Since ancient times, divisions and temptations sown by the enemy of the human race have been a serious challenge for the followers of Christ (Rom. 16:17). And therefore the Apostle Paul urged to keep away from those who produce them, because such people do not serve the Lord, they serve their own womb, and by caressing and eloquence deceive the hearts of the simple-minded (Rom. 16:17-18).
The Russian Orthodox Church knows from its own experience how hard it is and what wounds the sin of schism causes. At this difficult time, I express my brotherly support to Your Holiness and the Archpastors, pastors, and laypeople entrusted to your care.
May the Lord strengthen You in the arduous service of the Primate and grant you bodily health, and may He send down prosperity to your God-loving flock, affirming it in faith and unity of mind.
With love in Christ,
+ Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
This year’s summer, a group of schismatics opposed the Hierarchy of the Ethiopian Church and attempted to form their own “ecclesiastical jurisdiction”. To achieve this goal, in recent weeks, the schismatics have committed a number of anti-canonical “episcopal and priestly ordinations”, and are attempting to seize the temples of the Ethiopian Church.
The actions of the schismatics are strongly opposed by the majority of Ethiopian Christians. With the blessing of Patriarch Abune Mathias, special prayer petitions for peace in the country and for church unity are being read at all parishes of the Ethiopian Church. The Synod of the Ethiopian Church has also sent letters the the leaders of the world’s largest Christian communities asking for support.
The Russian Orthodox Church has never been indifferent to the woes of the Christian people of Ethiopia and in difficult times has always raised its voice in their defense. Likewise, the Moscow Patriarchate reacted to the mass attacks on churches, clergy, and believers of the Ethiopian Church that took place in 2019-2020, and to the attempts to carry out a church schism in a number of central and southern regions of Ethiopia in early 2023.
The Ethiopian Church is a member of the family of Ancient Oriental Churches and is not only the largest body in the Pre-Chalcedonian family, but also one of the largest Christian communities in the world: the number of its members exceeds 60 million people.
Ties between the peoples of Russia and Ethiopia date back many centuries. Regular inter-Church contacts were established in the late 19th century. In 1950s-1980s, they reached a particularly high level, largely thanks to the efforts of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Novgorod, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. These ties are especially strong today and are also carried out within the framework of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Church, established in 2018.