Ethiopia — June 2007

Sociopolitical Situation

The federal government continues to exercise a very tight control of activities in the country. International human rights groups are critical of the human rights violations of the political opposition and journalists. The government ignores or dismisses these accusations. At the same time, the Ethiopian government seems to enjoy a very good relationship with most Western nations, Arab governments and an increasingly strong relationship with China.

Ethiopia has sent members of the military to Somalia to assist the fledgling government to hold off the advances of the Islamic Court Movement. Ethiopia has stated repeatedly that it wishes to withdraw from Somalia as soon as the African Union sends in promised troops. It does not seem that this will happen soon.

The economy of Ethiopia is expanding rapidly with an increase in exports, especially flowers, animals, hides, coffee and now, textiles. At the same time, the imports into the country continue to increase. The result has been an inflationary rate of 16 percent. This is being felt by everyone, but especially the poor.

The government is involved in an impressive amount of road building throughout the country as well as in the capital. For the newcomer to Addis Ababa, it looks like a new city under construction.

Religious Situation

In September 2007, Ethiopia will begin its Millennium celebrations. As Ethiopia still officially follows the Julian calendar, 11 September will begin the year 2000.

Plans are being made by various Christian denominations for appropriate celebrations. The Catholic Church, through the leadership of the bishops and the preparatory committees of the Ethiopian and regional Catholic secretariats, is scheduling events to take place throughout the year. At the same time the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is doing the same. The head of the church, Abuna Paulos, is interested in having at least one ecumenical event in which foreign delegates from major denominations will be invited to send representatives.

A major blow has been sustained by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with the establishment of a schismatic church in North America. New bishops have been consecrated and a patriarch has been elected.

Efforts made by the Synod of the Ethiopia Orthodox Church in Addis Ababa have not been successful in convincing the break-away church to reconcile. At present, a representative of the church is in North America and is attempting to bring the break-away church back into union with the synod.It has been reported in the media that the Orthodox Church is planning to open a university-level institute of higher learning.

Almost all of the Ethiopian Catholic bishops went to the Holy Land for one week during the month of May at the invitation of the Neo-catechumenate movement. Also, during May, the bishops took one week out to go off by themselves for days of recollection. They scheduled this to coincide with the annual assembly of the national Priests Association. The priests and their bishops spent one day in recollection before the priests entered into their own agenda and the bishops continued their own days of recollection. Each day, at the meeting of the Priests Association, two bishops joined them in the concelebration of the Eucharist. This initiative is seen by all as very positive.

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