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Message of the Bishops' Conference of the Ethiopian Catholic Church

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To Excellency Bishops, Priests, religious Men and Women, lay faithful, all Catholics and to all Ethiopians and people of good will within the country and abroad,

We, the Bishops of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, had conducted our 54th annual regular conference at St. Mary Chapel; the Consolata Missionaries Residence in Mekanisa from December 18 –22, 2022. We started our assembly with Holy Mass in the spirit of one heart and mind, so that the Holy Spirit may lead the assembly and guide our decisions. We also prayed for the brother Bishops who could not be present among us for various reasons.

Based on the call of the Synod (to journey together) which the Catholic Church announced throughout the world, we have been discussing on our pastoral ministries, Charity works and current Ethiopian Situation in the spirit of the mission of the Church with Unity and Participation. 

Therefore, during the synod discussion, we discussed the ten-year pastoral planning process of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, which is believed to address the concerns of Catholics from all over Ethiopia. Based on this, we believe that when the work is completed with the spirit of commitment and service by considering and evaluating the current situation of our church, we shall follow a new way of evangelism with communion and participation with believers who walk in faith, the pastoral service of our church will be supported by grace and their results.

The purpose of this pastoral planning is to focus on the basic issues of the church which includes Remain focused to the mission of the Church;  Complaince with the Church canonical Structure; Establishing communication and accountability among church institutions, Strengthening of local, diocesan, national strcutures of communion, and particpation; Enhancing the capacity of clergy, relgious men and women  and adopting continuous formation programs;  involve the faithful in the church's mission by empowering them in particular, to facilitate the conditions for Catholic parishioners to take ownership and participate in our churches as centers of evangelism and works of charity. According to the canon law of the church and the law of the country, the  church can own and manage property faithfully and responsibly. We understand that we have to work on creative sustainable self-sufficiency options in the coming years and we have set pastoral directions. In connection with this, continental stage Synod assembly of the African Church Conferences will be held  from March 1to March 6, 2022 . We would like to state that it will be hosted by the Ethiopian Catholic Church expecting the presence of Cardinals, Bishops, priests and religious men and women, laity, youth and children from the Holy See, the Ethiopian Catholic Church and all African Bishops' Conferences.

Above all, we would like to express that we are happy with the peace agreement signed in Pretoria; South Africa, and the current process which was the prayer and wish of all Ethiopians to end the conflict and war in Ethiopia. We urge all stakeholders to carry out their responsibilities diligently in order to ensure its practicality and lasting peace.

His Grace Bishop Antoine Camilleri, the representative of Pope Francis and the ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia, attended our conference and we had a wide discussion on the current issues of the Church and our country. His Grace expressed his joy that an agreement was reached to end the terrible war in the northern part of the country. The start of the distribution of humanitarian aid is also helpful for the implementation of the agreement. We have set the direction that the Church is providing this humanitarian support and will continue to strengthen it.

We are reminding all the institutions with goodwill to continue their usual support so that they can reach all the affected areas in our country, especially in the south and eastern parts of the country which are suffering a lot due to drought.

Still, we are deeply saddened and concerned about the death of citizens in some parts of our country, displacement, the persecution and destruction of property. More importantly, we call upon all our people to resolve any dispute through peaceful means and dialogue so that the life of human being which is created in God's image is not lost. Humanitarian aid should be provided to all the victims.

In addition, we were able to understand that the inflation of the cost of living in our country is forcing many young people and citizens to become unemployed, to be subjected to migration and unfair employment contracts. Therefore, we call on the government and the relevant stakeholders to work together to ensure that their God given rights to work and support themselves and their families are protected by establishing a fair market system so that citizens can live in a balanced way of life in their country.

We also strongly condemn the rampant theft and corruption in our country, which is spreading as a result of inappropriate selfish attitude which has continued to harm our people and the way government services are rendered based on bribes. It is our constant prayer that our country, Ethiopia, would be built on ethics, God-fearing citizens, who are grateful for what is given to them instead of taking what is not theirs, and who can share what they have with other people.

As Prophet Isaiah says, “Learn to do good, search for justice, discipline the violent, be just to the orphan” (1:17). Helping the victims of the war and those whose lives have been affected is not the responsibility of an individual alone, rather it is the daily task of every citizen. We would like to entrust with great respect that we should strive to make our country safe and a happy place for everyone and that God may be pleased with us and make us an example for the rest of the world.

Finally, we do understand that the ongoing and especially recent religious provocative issues in our country, Ethiopia, is deeply saddening and displeasing to God. We urge the relevant authority to adopt a law and order to ensure accountability. We humbly ask religious leaders, teachers and preachers to refrain from teaching and preaching that would incite religious violence, conflict, hurt believers and undermine the dignity of religious institutions. We would like to encourage the people of our country to stand together for peace by protecting the values that our people have maintained for many centuries through tolerance and respect among different religions and by refraining from words and speeches that might be the cause of conflict.

Glory and praise be to God!

Bishops' Conference of the Ethiopian Catholic Church
22nd December, 2022
Addis Ababa

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia.

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