Patriarchal candidates of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church

Ethiomonarchist (Monarchy Forum) writes:
February 22, 2013
The Patriarchal Electoral Committee of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has announced the names of five candidates for the Patriarchal throne. The announcement has caused considerable surprise. All five are Archbishops, and the candidates that were most expected are not included. They are;
H E Abune Mattias Photo:dejeselam.org

  1. His Eminence, Archbishop Abune Mattias of Jerusalem
  2. His Eminence Archbishop Abune Elsa of North Gondar
  3. His Eminence Abune Hizkias, Archbishop of Kaffa, Sheka, Bench and Maji, and General Secretary of the Holy Synod
  4. His Eminence Abune Mattewos of Wolaita and Dowaro
  5. His Eminence Abune Yosef of Bale

In the coming days the five names will be reduced to three, and then on February 28, 800 deligates including the entire Holy Synod, and representatives of all the monasteries, the administrators of the major churches and cathedrals, the theological college, the seminaries, the sunday schools and lay organizations will elect the 6th Patriarch of the church in succession to his Late Holiness Abune Paulos.

H E Abune Elsa  Photo:dejeselam.org
The above patriarchal candidate choices are very interesting. Also interesting are the names that are not on the list. Of the over 9000 nominations sent in to the electoral committee, over 7000 are believed to have nominated Abune Samuel, the former Archbishop of Addis Ababa, and currently head of the Development and Relief Administration of the Church. Abune Samuel was widely seen as highly favored by the EPRDF government and their seems to have been a concerted effort on the part of the authorities to get him elected. He is an ethnic Tigrean (same ethnic group as the elite of the regime) and was seen as very pro-government. His rejection by the committee sends a rather strong message. Also rejected was Abune Gabriel, Archbishop of Awasa, who was prominent at the funeral of the late Prime Minister and seen to be actively courting the authorities. Abune Mattias of Jerusalem is now seem as the Patriarchal front runner, which is a huge irony as there was a campaign against his candidacy by government figures in spite of the fact that he is also a Tigrean. It was put out that His Eminence was too monarchist having been close to the Imperial family during their exile, and having remained close to them. He is now considered a hands down favorite. None of the candidates have particularly close ties to the government.
 08:25 AM
H E Abune Hizkias Photo:dejeselam.org

The government press announced the candidates indicating that the regime will go along with the synod's decision. It seems that the ruling party has decided to quietly endorse the Tigrean candidate even though it has been calling him "too monarchist" for a while now. Abune Hizkias is an Amhara of Wollo, Abune Matewos an Amhara of Shewa, and Abune Elsae is an Amhara of Gondar. Abune Yosef is an Oromo. It is virtually assured that the government will not allow an Amhara, particularly of traditional power centers like Gondar and Shewa on the Patriarchal throne. It seems assured that it will be Abune Mattias.

H E Abune Mattewos Photo:dejeselam.org
Abune Mattias assisted the late Patriarch Abune Tekle Haimanot at my ordination as a boy deacon years ago. He was one of 14 bishops appointed following the imprisonment of Patriarch Abune Theophilos and the enthronement of Patriarch Abune Tekle Haimanot. After serving for a few years in Jerusalem, he issued a denounciation of communism and the blood drenched rule of the Derg and became the first Ethiopian archbishop to go into exile. He became a staple on the Voice of America's Amharic service and on the BBC issuing anathemas against the Derg and those who cooperated with them. a He is a man of stately presence, although not without some detractors dating from the hight of ethnic disputes between members of the exile community in Washington D.C. in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Derg when he sided with the predominantly Tigrean side in the splits in the community. However he maintained his warm relations with the Imperial family throughout. Patriarch Abune Paulos appointed him Archbishop of the United States, and in this capacity he was instrumental in beginning the efforts towards reconciliation with the exile synod. He was later returned to his old archdiocese of Jerusalem where he serves presently.
09:45 AM

Several church focused independent websites are reporting that the government has abandoned it's earlier support of Abune Samuel's failed candidacy, and have now turned to aggressively promoting Abune Mattias. Abune Samuel is now regarded by the ruling party as too strongly in favor of the supremacy of the Orthodox Church in Ethiopia over other faiths, and by the electors as too eagerly and obviously campaigning for the patriarchate. Thus his bid has now failed even though he received more nominations than anyone else.
H E Abune Yosef Photo:dejeselam.org

Abune Hizkias is being championed by those who believe that it is the turn of someone form Wollo to sit on the Patriarchal throne. The first Patriarch after autocephalous status was gained, Patriarch Abune Basilios, was from Shewa. The second, Abune Theophilos, was from Gojjam. The third, Patriarch Abune Tekle Haimanot, and the fourth, Patriarch Abune Merkorios, were both of from Gondar although Abune Tekle Haimanot identified with Wollaita more as it was there he spent most of his years as a hermit monk. The fifth, Patriarch Abune Paulos, was a Tigrean. The only region of Ethiopia's traditional Christian heartland not to have had a turn on the Patirarchal throne is thus Wollo.

It is also being reported that Abune Elsa and Abune Mattewos are both demanding that their names be withdrawn from the list. Abune Elsa had previously been put forward as a Patriarchal candidate in 1992 when the winner was Abune Paulos.
 10:37 PM

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