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The Crisis in the Eritrean Orthodox Church Deepens

ICC Note

Eritrean officials have been imprisoning leaders of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Please pray for Eritrean Christians as they go through this difficult time.

12/22/2008 Eritrea (InChainsForChrist.Org)-So much has happened since 2005 when the Government of Mr. Isaias Afeworki finally brought the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC) under its complete control. The church is being administered by a layman political appointee and cadre of the ruling party – the ruthless Yoftahe Demetros. Some of the most influential priests of the church have since been languishing in prison without ever appearing before a court of law or being allowed visitations by anyone. The campaign to purge the church of priests who show the slightest opposition to such government interference in the EOC has been draconian. In Asmara and its surrounding alone over 60 clergies have been put out of the church. The culminating act of the government’s campaign to “purge” the church, however, was the deposing, subsequent imprisonment of its patriarch, Abune Antionios, and installing his replacement.

Nowhere has so strong an opposition taken place to what has occurred in the EOC than in the Diocese of North America. Since 2005, the Diocese has taken an unwavering public stand by denouncing the imprisonment of so many priests, and finally, the deposing of the Patriarch. It refused to recognize none other than Abune Antonios as the only canonically legitimate patriarch.

Absolute control being the intended outcome, in late 2005 the government dispatched Abba Sinoda, a newly appointed bishop, to reign in the Diocese at the behest of the regime. To this end, the entire propaganda machine of the Eritrean Embassy in Washington DC and chapters of the ruling regime in every major city in the US were mobilized. Priests and churches were being harassed and intimidated. But the Diocese withstood the onslaught. Thanks to, the Diocese’s website, one could follow the acts of Abba Sinoda’s shameless campaign to either bring individual churches under the control of the government or destroying them. Today, although the Diocese is thriving, it is sad to see several priests having buckled under the pressure and choosing to be run by the Eritrean Embassy in Washington , DC .

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