Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel

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Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel

Cardinal, Archbishop of Addis Abeba
ChurchEthiopian Catholic Church
SeeAddis Abeba
Appointed7 July 1999
PredecessorPaulos Tzadua
Other post(s)
Ordination4 July 1976
Consecration25 January 1998
by Paulos Tzadua
Created cardinal14 February 2015
by Pope Francis
Personal details
Born (1948-07-14) 14 July 1948 (age 75)
Tchela Claka
Previous post(s)
  • Titular Bishop of Bita (1997–1999)
  • Apostolic Administrator of Addis Abeba (1997–1999)
Coat of armsBerhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel's coat of arms
Ordination history of
Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel
Priestly ordination
Date4 July 1976
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorPaulos Tzadua
Co-consecratorsYohannes Woldeghiorghis
Woldetensae Ghebreghiorgis
Date25 January 1998
Elevated byPope Francis
Date14 February 2015
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel as principal consecrator
Tesfasellassie Medhin20 January 2002
Abraham Desta10 May 2002
Musie Ghebreghiorgis, OFM Cap.8 February 2004
Rodrigo Mejia Saldarriaga, SJ4 March 2007
Giovanni Migliorati, MCCI31 May 2009
Theodorus van Ruiyven, CM30 August 2009
Markos Ghebremedhin, CM24 January 2010
Angelo Moreschi, SDB31 January 2010
Woldeghiorghis Mathewos11 April 2010
Lisane-Christos Matheos Semahun18 April 2010
Tsegaye Keneni Derara24 November 2013
Angelo Pagano, OFM Cap.29 May 2016
Roberto Bergamaschi, SDB8 October 2016
Styles of
Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, CM (born 14 July 1948) is an Ethiopian prelate of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, which he has headed since his election as Ethiopian Catholic Archbishop of Addis Abeba in 1999. He is also the chancellor of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrea. He was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Francis in 2015.

He was imprisoned while a priest by the Communist government of Ethiopia in 1979–80. A member of the Congregation of the Mission, he directed the order's novitiate in the mid-1980s and was provincial superior from 1990 to 1994. He served as auxiliary bishop of Addis Abeba for 18 months before becoming archbishop.

Early life and priesthood[edit]

Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel was born on 14 July 1948 in Tchela Claka, near Harar in Ethiopia. He first attended public schools and those run by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and then others run by the Capuchins and the De La Salle Brothers. He entered the minor seminary of the Congregation of the Mission (known as "Lazarists" or "Vincentians") in 1963.[1] He studied at the Makanissa Major Seminary beginning in 1968. He studied theology at King's College London and was ordained a Catholic priest on 4 July 1976.[2]

He fulfilled parish assignments in southwestern Ethiopia until, in June 1979, he was jailed by Ethiopia's military dictatorship for seven months, including one month in solitary confinement.[1][3][4] When the government expelled foreign missionaries, he was left with responsibility for 15 parishes in addition to his original assignment.[3] When sent into exile himself, he earned a degree in sociology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.[2] He returned to Ethiopia in 1983.


In 1990 Berhaneyesus Souraphiel became provincial superior of the Lazarists in Addis Ababa. In 1994 he was appointed prefect of the newly created Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga.[2] On 7 November 1997, Pope John Paul II appointed him auxiliary bishop of Addis Abeba and he was consecrated a bishop on 25 January 1998[2] by Cardinal Paulos Tzadua. On 7 July 1999 he succeeded Paulos Tzadua as Ethiopian Catholic Archbishop of Addis Abeba.[5]

In 2005, he established the Ethiopian Catholic University of St. Thomas Aquinas.[6] He has served as its chancellor and toured the United States to raise funds through an organization founded by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a veteran Vatican diplomat.[7]

In December 2008, he was one of a dozen Ethiopian religious figures who adopted a resolution that called homosexuality "an infestation", and urged Ethiopian lawmakers to extend the country's criminalization of homosexual activity to the constitution.[6][8]

He was elected chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) during its 18th Plenary Assembly in Malawi in July 2014.[citation needed]


On 4 January 2015, Pope Francis announced that he would make him a cardinal on 14 February.[9] At that ceremony, he was made a cardinal priest and was assigned the titular church of San Romano Martire.[10]

On 13 April 2015, hé was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.[11]

In 2015, as part of a long campaign for national reconciliation following the end of the military council's authoritarian rule (1974–1987), he advocated for imprisoned Derg officials to have their death sentences commuted, and he met with several of them, including one who had arrested him years earlier, upon their release from prison.[12] He has served as head of the Ethiopian Peace and Reconciliation Commission.[4]

In advance of the Synod on the Amazon, he said he viewed the question of married priests as secondary to more critical issues: "the Amazon is the lung of the world — and it was burning — and what action was being taken? And the indigenous people who are living there, what right have they been given by the nine countries which surround the Amazon? Did they get educational opportunities? Health opportunities? Opportunities to preserve their traditional values?"[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ethiopia's Cardinal Souraphiel brings African family values to the college of cardinals". Catholic News Agency. 7 June 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "Nomina dell'Arcivescovo Metropolita di Addis Abeba (Etiopia)". Daily Bulletin (in Italian). Rome: Holy See Press Office. 7 July 1999. Archived from the original on 22 April 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b Brown, Lauretta (22 October 2019). "Ethiopian Cardinal Discusses Hope of Peace and What He Learned From St. John Paul II". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Ethiopian Cardinal Discusses Peacebuilding and Reconciliation". Catholic University of America. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Souraphiel Card. Berhaneyesus Demerew, C.M." Holy See Press Office. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b McDermott, Jim (13 February 2015). "'Go forth and preach the Gospel,' Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia". America. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  7. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (1 November 2013). "Ethiopian archbishop: Vatican should be credible moral source in the world". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  8. ^ "2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia". Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. 25 February 2009.
  9. ^ "Annuncio di Concistoro per la creazione di nuovi Cardinali". NEWS.VA Official Vatican Network. 4 January 2015. Archived from the original on 13 November 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Consistory: list of titular church assignments". Vatican Radio. 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Rinunce e nomine, 13.04.2015" (Press release) (in Italian). Holy See Press Office. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  12. ^ "Ethiopian Cardinal Welcomes Man who Jailed him". Caritas Internationalis. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
vicariate established
Vicar Apostolic of Jimma-Bonga Succeeded by
Preceded by Titular Bishop of Bita
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Addis Abeba
1999 – present
Preceded by
titular church established
Cardinal Priest of San Romano Martire