In his Christmas message issued on January 6, the head of the Ethiopian Bishops’ Conference asks the faithfull to ask God for the gift of forgiveness and peace in the country, where civil war has recently entered its second year.
By Lisa Zengarini
As Ethiopia continues to face war resulting in a serious humanitarian crisis, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa has urged Ethiopians to shun pride, anger and hatred that hinder peace in the country.
In his Message for Christmas, which the Oriental Churches celebrated on January 7, the head of the Ethiopian Catholic Church called on all the faithful to avoid evil and to ask God for “the gift of forgiveness and peace” through prayer: “We persevere in prayer because peace and happiness are found in prayer. When we do, we fear God and turn away from all evil. We are all a family”, he says.
Praying for peace
“We need to avoid the spirit of pride, hatred and anger that can break the chains of peace by begging the Lord to graciously grant us peace, even though peace is being violated and war is being waged in our country”, the message continues.
To overcome pride and hatred the Ethiopian Cardinal stresses that “humility, gentleness and patience” are needed: “Only in this way can we truly love one another. So let us return to Him with all our heart, that we may walk together in the spirit of forgiveness”, he writes.
Supporting the suffering
The message further calls on the faithful in Ethiopia to “share the suffering and sorrow of those who have endured war, the traumatized and those suffering from moral breakdown, the displaced and injured, and those that have lost their parents and families”.
The bishops’ support
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) announced recently it would raise US$2 million, with the aid of Church partners, local Catholic Institutions and Catholic faithful, to support people enduring the consequences of the war. The announcement was made in the final message of its recent Plenary Assembly which was focused on the armed conflict.
Over 2 million displaced
War erupted on November 4, 2020, following an attack against federal military bases by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised a swift victory, but the fighting has escalated into a widespread conflict involving ethnic-based militias as well as Eritrean armed forces. Over 2 million people have been displaced as a result of the civil war and famine has been officially declared in the region.