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Eritrean Patriarch Detained For 10 Years Has Attended Church

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on July 21, 2017

The Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch, detained at home since 2007, has been allowed to attend a church service for the first time since his arrest – but supporters say in spite of this there has been no reconciliation with the regime.

Patriarch Abune Antonios was arrested and deposed by the repressive Eritrean regime after he criticised its human rights record and refused to allow it to interfere in Church affairs. The government installed another patriarch who was not recognised by the wider Orthodox Church, but he died in 2015.

Antonios, now aged 90, was allowed to take part in the mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in the capital, Asmara, but local sources told Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that he was surrounded by guards and that plain-clothes policeman dissuaded the congregation from taking pictures.

According to CSW, the patriarch’s appearanced followed the publication on the website of the Eritrean Orthodox Church of a letter from its Holy Synod saying the rift caused by his removal from office was over. It published a picture of a ‘reconciliation committee’ comprising the ‘Union of the Monasteries and Church Scholars’, who had participated in a process that had allegedly ended in ‘full reconciliation’.

At the service on Sunday a statement from the reconciliation committee was read. However, Antonios himself has yet to speak out and has previously categorically denied the charges against him.

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