“I am grieved by the violence of which the Christians of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are victims. I express my closeness to this Church and to its Patriarch, dear brother Abuna Matthias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of the violence in that land.”
With these words, Pope Francis asked for prayers for victims of the violence in recent days in Ethiopia. The Holy Father’s plea came after praying the Angelus with the crowds of pilgrims gathered on November 3, 2019, in St. Peter’s Square.
Unrest in Ethiopia in October led to the deaths of more than 70 people, according to Vatican News. The troubles began with tensions between security forces and a prominent political activist, and were focused in the Oromia region of the country. The government has said that ethnic and religious factors played a role in the violence.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the largest of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, with between 45 and 50 million adherents, mostly in Ethiopia. The Oriental Orthodox Churches are distinguished by their recognition of only the first three Ecumenical Councils.