Ethiopian Catholic Church

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Ethiopian Catholic Church
Ethiopian Catholic Church cross.png
Classification Catholic
Orientation Eastern Catholic, Ge'ez Rite
Polity Episcopal
Governance Metropolitanate
Leader Metropolitan Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel
Archbishop of Addis Ababa of the Ethiopians[1][2]
Associations Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Region Ethiopia, Eritrea
Headquarters Addis Ababa
Origin February 20, 1951
Separations Eritrean Catholic Church
Congregations 207 (2010)
Members 610,714 (2010) [3]
Ministers 590[4]
Official website ecs.org.et

The Ethiopian Catholic Church, formerly known as the Uniate Abyssinian Church, is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church within the Catholic Church. Established in 1930, its membership includes inhabitants of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Like the other Eastern Catholic Churches, the Ethiopian Catholic Church is in full communion with the Holy See. It holds the Christological doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon and accepts the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. These points distinguish it from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches comprising most Christians in the two countries. Like the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox, the Ethiopian Catholic Church follows the Ethiopic liturgical rite.

Ge'ez, a Semitic language fallen out of daily use several centuries ago, is the liturgical language of the Ethiopic Church, whose liturgy is based on the Coptic.

History[edit]

The Portuguese voyages of discovery opened the way for direct contacts between the Catholic Church and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the 14th century, Catholic missionaries arrived in Ethiopia. On August 28, 1439, Pope Eugene IV sent a message of unity with the Catholic Church to Ethiopian Emperor Constantine I but this effort was unsuccessful.[5]

With Islamic attacks up to 1531 threatening Christian Ethiopia, an appeal from the Emperor to the Portuguese brought support to defeat the Adal Sultanate in the Ethiopian–Adal War. Jesuit missionaries came with the Portuguese to Ethiopia. These missionaries focused their conversion activities with the country's governing class including the Emperor to have the Ethiopian Orthodox Church unite with the Catholic Church. The Emperor Susenyos was converted primarily by Father Pedro Páez. In 1622, Susenyos made Catholicism the state religion. The next year, Pope Gregory XV named Afonso Mendes, a Portuguese Jesuit, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church. A formal union in 1626 was declared when Patriarch Mendes came to the country. With Mendes trying to Latinize the Ethiopian church, Susenyos used force to impose the latinization. Public backlash resulted. In 1632, Susenyos died. His successor Fasilides in 1636 removed Mendes from the country, ended the union with Rome and removed or killed the remaining missionaries. For the next 200 years, Ethiopia was closed to Catholic Missions.[5]

In 1839, Italian Lazarists and Capuchins resumed, albeit within certain limitations imposed due to strong public opposition. That same year, Justin de Jacobis was appointed first Prefect Apostolic of Abyssinia and entrusted with the foundation of Catholic missions in that country. After laboring with great success in Abyssinia for eight years, he was made titular Bishop of Nilopolis in 1847, and shortly afterwards Vicar Apostolic of Abyssinia, but he refused the episcopal dignity until it was finally forced upon him in 1849.[6]

In 1889, Emperor Menelik II assumed the throne and allowed access for the Catholic missionaries. With the conquest of Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War by Italy, missionary work increased in the country similar to Eritrea already under Italian control since 1889.[5]

In 1919, the Pontifical Ethiopian College was founded with the Vatican walls by Pope Benedict XV with St. Stephen’s Church, behind St. Peter’s Basilica, as the designated church for the College.[1]

The Latin Church had become established in the south of Ethiopia in areas that had not been Christian and that were incorporated into the modern country only at the end of the 19th century. The Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1936 gave rise to an increase in the number of Latin Church jurisdictions, but the expulsion of foreign missionaries at the end of the Second World War meant that the Ethiopic Rite clergy had to take responsibility for areas thus denuded of Catholic clergy. Accordingly, in 1951, the Ethiopic Rite Apostolic Exarchate of Addis Ababa was established, and the ordinariate for Eritrea was elevated to the rank of exarchate. Ten years later, on February 20, 1961, an Ethiopic ecclesiastical province was established, with Addis Ababa as the Metropolitan See[2] and Asmara (in Eritrea) and Adigrat (in Ethiopia) as suffragan eparchies.[5]

Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba Mons. Berhaneyesus Souraphiel (left) in the inauguration of a medical-aid program with an Italian priest.

In 1995, two new eparchies, Barentu and Keren, were established in Eritrea,[4] and the Latin Church apostolic vicariate was abolished. Eritrea thus became the only country where all Catholics, whatever their personal liturgical rite, belong to an Eastern Catholic jurisdiction.[1] In 2003, one more eparchy was created in Endibir in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia,[2] with the result that the Ethiopic Catholic Metropolitan Church now consists of six sees, three in Ethiopia and three in Eritrea.[1]

There are also Latin-Rite jurisdictions in the south of Ethiopia, none of them raised to the rank of diocese. Five are apostolic vicariates and two are apostolic prefectures.[1]

Differences between the Catholic and Orthodox Ethiopian Churches[edit]

Other distinctions between the Orthodox and Catholic Ethiopian Churches include certain points of doctrine regarding the sacraments, the use of the Catholic canon of Scripture, and the Catholic rejection of miaphysite theology (e.g., the formula attributed to St. Cyril).[citation needed] Also, the order of the diaconate is reserved for adult men in the Catholic Church, whereas boys are commonly ordained in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Ethiopian Catholic clergy also tend to dress in the Roman cassock and collar, distinct from the Ethiopian Orthodox custom.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Roberson, Ronald G. "The Ethiopian Catholic Church". Eastern Catholic Churches. Catholic Near East Welfare Association. p. 2. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Metropolitan Archdiocese of Addis Abeba". GCatholic.org. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dioceses". Ethiopian Catholic Agency. Ethiopian Catholic Church. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Roberson, Ronald G. "The Eastern Catholic Churches 2010". Eastern Catholic Churches Statistics. Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Roberson, Ronald G. "The Ethiopian Catholic Church". Eastern Catholic Churches. Catholic Near East Welfare Association. p. 1. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Blessed Justin de Jacobis". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 

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