New York, NY – Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! At a meeting of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches occurring earlier this month, it was reported to the Standing Conference that the Synod of Eritrea – under pressure from the government of that country – has determined to install another patriarch contrary to the canon law while His Holiness Abune Antonios I is alive and has not been formally deposed after an ecclesiastical trial convicting him of any wrongdoing or heresy.
As representatives of their respective Mother Churches, the bishops of the Standing Conference stand unequivocally with His Holiness Abune Antonios I, and recognize him as the only legitimate Patriarch of Eritrea, praying that God might return him to his throne in peace. In light of this conviction, the Standing Conference has decided to issue two letters:
- One to the Eritrean government, expressing the Conference’s strenuous objections to any actions which undermine the canon law common to all Orthodox Churches
- And another to the faithful people of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church who stand with His Holiness Abune Antonios I and the canons of the Church, encouraging them in their principled stand.
Let it further be noted that any assertions made to the effect that the Eritrean Church has been in communication with the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox Synods regarding their decision to flout the canon law and that the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox Synods “have accepted this decision” or “are in the process of working it out” are utter falsehoods.
The Oriental Orthodox Churches accept no other Patriarch for the Eritrean Church other than His Holiness Abune Antonios I and stand with him without reservation. The Coptic Church in particular continues to pray for him by name in every Liturgy it prays.
As for any assertions made that each Sister Church is independent and free to choose their own Patriarch, it should be noted that each Sister Church must carry out such decisions in accordance with the canon law common to us all and not contrary to it.
May God return His Holiness to his throne in peace. Lord, have mercy.