On 16th March 2023, during a session of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, presented a report on the second meeting of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (Minutes No. 17).
The Synod members acknowledged the Commission’s successful work and noted the importance of bilateral projects, including:
On 11th-16th February 2023, the second meeting of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church took place in Moscow.
Representing the Moscow Patriarchate were Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, Patriarchal Exarch of Africa, co-chair of the Commission; Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations, secretary of the Commission; Mr Vakhtang Kipshidze, vice-chairman of the Synodal Department for the Church’s Relations with Society and the Media; and Deacon Dimitry Serov, director of the Moscow Theological Academy Publishers.
Taking part in the meeting on behalf of the Ethiopian Church were Archbishop Philipos of South Omo, rector of the Holy Trinity Theological Academy in Addis Ababa, co-chair of the Commission; Rev. Daniel Sayfemichael, head of the Ethiopian Church Department for External Relations, secretary of the Commission; and Archimandrite Uedejesus Sefugalato, deputy chancellor of the Ethiopian Church, dean of the parishes in Addis Ababa.
The Commission was established in compliance with the agreement reached by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and His Holiness Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia during a visit of the Primate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to Russia on 15th-20th May 2018.
During the meeting, the Commission reviewed the joint projects implemented since its previous meeting held in Addis Ababa on 21st-25th January 2019. Despite COVID-19 restrictions and other external circumstances, the Commission had implemented a number of bilateral initiatives. The participants in the meeting put forward plans for furthering cooperation in various topical areas that include joint efforts in protecting Christians from persecution; cooperation at international forums; upholding traditional moral values; exchange of professional experience in the media sphere; mutual assistance in taking pastoral care of compatriots living in Russia and Ethiopia; cooperation in the diaspora; contacts between the monastics and implementation of pilgrimage initiatives; and cooperation in the academic, social and youth spheres and in manufacturing church art works and utensils.
On 14th February, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, met with the delegation of the Ethiopian Church. On behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Abune Mathias of Ethiopia and the Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the head of the delegation, Archbishop Abune Philipos, thanked the Moscow Patriarchate for supporting the Ethiopian Church amid recent attempts by a group of schismatics to perpetrate a church schism in Ethiopia. In return, Metropolitan Anthony expressed gratitude to the Ethiopian Church for continued support at various inter-Christian forums and for opposing attempts to discriminate against the Russian Orthodox Church.
The next meeting of the Commission for Dialogue between the Russian and the Ethiopian Churches is due to take place in the territory of the Ethiopian Church in 2024.
Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa