The Catholic bishops of Ethiopia issued a letter assuring the bishop of the Eparchy of Adigrat, located in the currently embattled Tigray region, of their solidarity, ongoing prayer and closeness.
This week, Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin, eparch of Adigrat, was unable to join the Ethiopian bishops for their 50th plenary assembly in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, due to the conflict in Tigray and the subsequent restrictions of movement in the region.
The bishops’ letter, dated 18 December, was written a day after news outlets reported there had been no communication from Abune Tesfaselassie for several weeks and his whereabouts were unknown.
However, CNEWA confirmed with its sources in Ethiopia on 18 December that “the bishop and his priests are safe, silently commending the suffering of their people in prayer.”
In their letter, the bishops said they, along with the clergy, religious men and women and all lay faithful, have been accompanying Abune Tesfaselassie in prayer “from the moment the armed conflict broke out, as we could not communicate with you due to lack of means of communications.
“We do share your pain and we do hope and pray that during this time of Advent the King of Peace brings everlasting peace to Ethiopia,” the bishops wrote.
The bishops also assured Abune Tesfaselassie they had sent appeals to Catholic charities, including CNEWA’s partner Caritas Internationalis, for humanitarian support for the Tigray region.
“As soon as we can, the humanitarian aid will reach your eparchy,” they wrote.
The letter was signed by Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Ababa, major archbishop of the Ethiopian Catholic Church and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia.
According to United Nations estimates, the fighting that erupted on 4 November has left hundreds of people dead, thousands internally displaced, about 50,000 seeking refuge in neighboring Sudan, and millions in need of humanitarian assistance.