Ethiopia’s Catholic bishops have issued yet another call for peace, as violence in the country’s northern Tigray region continues and humanitarian aid organizations struggle to gain access to the region and deliver much-needed relief to those suffering the effects of war. The bishops issued their message on 17 July at the end of their ordinary assembly. Read the bishops’ full message below.
STATEMENT BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ETHIOPIA
17 JULY 2021
We, the bishops of the Ethiopian Catholic Church have held our ordinary assembly at the Consolata Fathers Spirituality Center in Modjo from 13 to 16 July 2021. During the assembly, we have prayed for the peace of our country and the safety of our people. We have made [a] special prayer for His Excellency Abune Tesfasilassie Medhin, eparch of Adigrat, who was not able to join the assembly for the last one year due to the war in Tigray and suffering continuously together with his people, and for the clergy, religious men and women and all Catholic faithful who have been passing through the war and the attached humanitarian crisis. We had in-depth discussions on various church and national issues. While we were holding our assembly, our thoughts and prayers were influenced by the worrisome information we were receiving about the war. It saddens our hearts hearing about war while we all would like to hear about peace and reconciliation. May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, bring lasting peace to our country. We all want to see a country where all Ethiopians embrace each other as brothers and sisters. We kindly urge to all parties involved that war only destroys lives and properties and nothing more and the choice to be made should not be war but peace and reconciliation.
As pastors, we cannot but feel the anguish and pain that the people are going through. We identify with them; their anguish is our anguish. Our compassion must be expressed in concrete solidarity. We are grateful to all those who have been working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of the population and we encourage them to ensure that no one be forgotten or left out. We urge all authorities on the ground to allow unfettered access to humanitarian aid.
The horror of war is never a remedy for wrongs or a solution to a crisis. War brings untold suffering and the price that innocent people pay is incalculable. We are close to all those whose lives have been affected, possibly indelibly, by the violence. For some it is already too late, and we pray that the sacrifice of their lives may not be in vain.
As pastors, we can only give from what we have, and this is the hope that comes from our faith in the God of Jesus Christ. It is never too late to stop the violence, to acknowledge that the only way forward, for the good of the people, is peace and reconciliation, to satisfy the demands of truth and justice, to ask for and grant forgiveness, to do what is necessary to restore mutual trust, to recognize others as our brothers and sisters, no matter who they are and how deep our disagreements are, and to settle any differences through dialogue and negotiation.
It is the only way that we can heal together as a country, as a society and as a church. There are no “winners” and “losers”, no “them” and “us”; we are all brothers and sisters. Living in peace and social harmony may seem like a dream but it is attainable if we stretch out our hands to God, the Father of all, in prayer and allow him to mold our hearts and minds to think thoughts of peace and fraternity, and act accordingly.
May the Almighty God who created all of us as brothers and sisters fill our hearts with wisdom to choose brotherhood and sisterhood than hatred and revenge and make us an instrument of peace.
May God bless our nation and its people!