ROME, AUG. 17, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI today sent a telegram of condolence upon hearing of the passing of His Holiness Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church. Abune Paulos was a renowned ecumenist and inter-religious dialogue partner who led his Church for two decades before his passing on Thursday at the age of 76.
The Holy Father recalled the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church visits to the Vatican and expressed his condolences to the clergy, religious and faithful of the patriarchate.
“I am also grateful for his commitment to promoting greater unity through dialogue and cooperation between the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church,” the pope said.
According to Ethiopian News Agency, Abune Paulos died following medical treatment. Various news reports also stated that Paulos had been admitted to a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday.
Paulos lead the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, which currently has 40 million members worldwide, for over 20 years. Admired for his interfaith dialogue initiatives, the patriarch spoke at several international forums, including the World Economic Forum and the World Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations.
In 2000, Paulos was awarded the Nansen Medal for Africa by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was also honored this year by the Vision for Generations for his leadership in the campaign to address HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia.
The Holy Father concluded his message assuring his “prayers for the repose of his soul, and for all who mourn him.”