The legitimate patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, has been allowed to attend a mass for the first time since he was placed under house arrest in 2007. This is a hopeful sign that this man who has been persecuted for over a decade now, may be free to practice his faith and serve his people once again. There are still some guarantees that need to be made by the Eritrean Government first, however. As of now, it is unsure whether his release has been temporary or conditional to his follow all orders from the government. We hope and pray that he is finally allowed to freely follow his faith. We also can not forgot about the thousands of other people held in captivity for their faith by the Afwerki administration.
07/18/2017 Eritrea (ICN) – Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has confirmed that on 16 July, the legitimate patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonios, who has been under house arrest since 2007, participated in a Mass held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Asmara.
The Mass was attended by hundreds of worshippers and was the patriarch’s first public appearance in over a decade. Sources close to CSW have described it as “a profound answer to many prayers and much pressure.” However, while delighted, CSW’s sources sounded a note of caution regarding the need to clarify whether the patriarch had been released temporarily or conditionally.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “It is encouraging to hear that Patriarch Antonios was able to participate in a Mass after a decade of incommunicado incarceration. We await clarification regarding the terms of his release, and our profound hope is that the patriarch is finally free and will be reinstated unconditionally. We also remember the tens of thousands of prisoners of conscience of all faiths and none still languishing in indefinite detention in Eritrea, including the four Orthodox priests and eight Protestant leaders, and reiterate our call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
This is not the first time there have been reports of the patriarch’s imminent release from house arrest. On 8 August 2016, the Eritrean Orthodox Church website in Asmara published pictures of a meeting between Patriarch Antonios and a delegation of monks, scholars and government officials. The website also published a letter on headed paper that it claimed the patriarch had signed, in which he purportedly apologised for any intentional or unintended wrongs he may have committed that led to his removal. The website indicated he was soon to be released; however, it’s version of events was debunked by several credible sources.