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Eritrea Installs Controversial New Orthodox Patriarch



ICC Note

Persecuting Christians has almost become a trade mark of Eritrean government. The government has continued its interference in the affairs of churches as this reports indicates.

By Ethan Cole

May 29 2007 Eritrea (Christian Post)

The fourth patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church was installed this weekend while the former patriarch is reportedly still detained under house arrest.

His Holiness Abune Dioskoros received the key to the Holy Shrine and was sworn in during his investiture ceremony and anointment at St. Mary Church in the Eritrea ’s capital city Asmara on Sunday, according to Eritrea ’s Ministry of Information. Dioskoros was appointed as the new Eritrean Orthodox head on Apr. 19 and reportedly was approved by the Holy Synod unanimously.

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Opponents, however, have accused the Eritrean government of propping up the new patriarch after removing the former pontiff from office for unknown reasons.

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“In addition to the appalling mistreatment of the legitimate pontiff, who continues to be held without charge or trial, the Eritrean authorities appear determined to usurp the authority to appoint a leader for a church with a 17-century history,” remarked Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in response to the appointment of the new patriarch in April.

Eritrea ’s harassment of Christians and other religious minorities is well-known in the international community. The U.S. Department of State for three straight years has designated Eritrea as a “Country of Particular Concern” – the worst religious freedom violation label.

Newer Christian groups such as Protestant evangelicals and Pentecostals are particularly targeted by the government, but some reports indicate that officials have recently crackdown on Orthodox churches which formerly had an amicable relationship with the government.

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