Practicing hypocrisy in EOTC would be detrimental to the cohesion of the laity

By Dilwenberu Nega
Nov. 08 2010

Many had hoped that the presence of a 3D statute of EOTC's first Patriarch H.H. Abune Basilos in the sanctoum of the church of Debre Tsige Mariam, Goha Tsion, some 70 km from Addis, had by default, rendered the case for the "removal of Patriarch Paulos' statute" untenable. However, far from being a done and dusted matter, the question of the statute continues to be an albatross arround the neck of cabalists hell bent on nudging the reign of Patriarch Paulos to an early grave. An unprecedented tug-of-war between two extreme wings of EOTC is now unravelling under our own eyes: between those who leave no stone unturned to implement their conspiracy of impeaching a sitting Patriarch on charges of idolatory, and those members of EOTC's congregation who are hell-bent on not allowing hypocricy to rear its ugly head in the implementation of the recent Holy Synod Directive on the statute.

What would, therefore, be of benefit to all is to concentrate not so much on the who is right or who is wrong, but on the what is right and what is wrong. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, upon whom EOTC is founded did not mince His words when speaking against hypocrites: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." Mathew 6:1.

Eversince Abune Paulos's statute became a moot point among EOTC's congregation, both at home and abroad, I had not minced my words in opposing the Holy Synod's ruling. I have been doing so in line with the word of God: "Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves" Proverbs 31:8. My object and objective has never been and will never be to attempt a-mortal-become-god. Thank God that the EOTC in me has enabled me to know that my salvation can only come about through my faith and my work. Disagreeing - without being disagreeable - a Holy Synod Directive which clashes head-on with the word of God must not be viewed by my critics as an act of insubordination. Nor must the Holy Synod regard my genuine disagreement as an apparition of a heresy among EOTC's flock. It is high-time that the Holy Synod did not lose sight of the fact that in today's Church, the congregation is not prepared to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the prevalence of wrong over right; of evil over good. Gone with the wind are, therefore, the days when we did not challenge the Holy Synod when it sanctioned - as it did during the era of the Derg - the now self-exiled former EOTC's third Patriarch to donate Birr 150.000 of church money to Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam - a mere 72 hours after Megistu's forces mounted a mortar attack on the Church of Adwa Selassie. Every time I point out at the flaws inherent in Holy Synod Directives, I am being met by a dejeselamawi chorus of "ethno-politics." What makes pointing a flaw in a Holy Synod Directive "ethno-political" is as unfathomable as a dejeselamawi's online-sermon of Patriarch Paulos' statute being "Catholic."

The Holy Synod and the judgement of Solomon

You and I, like to be reassured that George Orwell's "all men are born equal, but some are more equal than others" is anathema to EOTC's Holy Synod. We would also like to be reassured that we all are equal not only before God, but before the Holy Synod too. On the other hand, if the Holy-Spirit-Guided-Holy-Synod reaches a no-nonsense Directive and goes ahead with the removal of Patriarch Paulos's statute on grounds that the presence in any church of statutes of the living and the dead contravene EOTC's Cannonical Directives, then we ask for similar measures to be taken on all statutes in every nook and cranny of Ethiopia. If, on the other hand the Holy Synod Directive is meant to only apply to Patriarch Paulos' statute, then we take it to mean that the Holy Synod has declared war on our conscience. Are we going to violate our concience and say "Amen" to an unfair and hypocritical Directive? Or, are we going to appeal to the Holy Synod to review the Directives by taking into account the presence of all statutes. We would be asking: "What makes Abune Baslios' 3D statute which he, himself, had commissioned 8 years before his death, and which stands in the sanctoum of a church permissable to the Holy Synod, and what makes Abune Paulos' 3D statute which is a gift from his admirers, and which stands outside the precinct of a church anathema to the Holy Synod?"

How fair is a Holy Synod Directive while on the one hand calls for the dismantling of Patriarch Paulos' billboards from church compounds, and on the other leaves fresco paintings of the former King in church interiors intact? EOTC has never been and will never be the Church of Haile Selassie - a gulf which separates EOTC with the Rasta movement. Haile Selassie is not a cannonised saint of EOTC, nor does his claim to be the "255th direct decsendent of the union of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba," makes him anymore divine than poor souls like you and me. Any attempt to equate Haile Selassie' image on church interiors with those icons of recognized Saints is by itself an attack on the Faith of EOTC. It is an undeniable fact that up to 1974, we all responded "Amen" when, a Holy Synod-sanctioned prayer called for "God to place under the crushing feet of Haile Selassie all his enemies." What a falacy! Where in the Bible or EOTC's Canon Law does it state "Opposing Haile Selassie is opposing God." That was then, today no Ethio-Ortho-Tewahedo is prepared to accept Holy Synod Directives which are unfair and hypocritical. Moreover, you have to accept that the question of Patriarch Paulos' statute has inadvertently opened the Pandora's Box within EOTC. Suffocating dissent of a Holy Synod Directive done in haste and with intent to damage the good name of the Holy Father, cannot possibly be an answer to the dilema we are facing now.

We, the silent majority, expect from the Holy Synod, nothing less than the judgment of Solomon in the case of People vs 'The Demolition Squad'.