Catholic Leaders in Ethiopia Request Permanent Residence Permits for Foreign Missionaries

Leaders of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia during a September 17 bilateral meeting with officials of the Federal Immigration Nationality and Vital Events Agency.
Credit: Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat/ Facebook

The leadership of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia has reached out to the Government requesting for permanent residence permits for foreign missionaries in the country.

The request, if favorably considered, would benefit the 429 missionaries serving in the Horn of Africa nation, who the Catholic leaders say, “serve humanity around the world regardless of borders and demarcations” by the universal nature of the Catholic Church.

“Many foreign missionaries serve Ethiopian from their youth to retirement for more than 50 years. They learned all the traditions and local languages as well,” the Secretary General of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS), Fr. Teshome Fikre has been quoted as saying during a Thursday, September 17 bilateral meeting with immigration officials in the country.

He added in reference to the foreign missionaries, “They like being in Ethiopia and many of them even don’t want to think of going back to their countries even after their retirement. They always say they want to die here in Ethiopia.”

“Therefore, it would be fortunate to respect these foreigners in providing them a permanent residence permit or bestowing honorary citizenship,” Fr. Fikre said during the meeting held at ECS headquarters in Addis Ababa.

During the meeting, the Director of the Social Development Commission of the Ethiopian Catholic Church, Bekele Moges explained the work of the 173-female and 256-male foreign missionaries in the country.

He also explained the challenges the Catholic Church in the country is facing due to the foreign missionaries not having permanent residence permits.

In response, the Director of the country’s Federal Immigration Nationality and Vital Events Agency Mujib Jemal said his office will look into the request, and encouraged the Church officials to present the details about the work and status of the missionaries in writing to his office.

He expressed hope that “further discussion between the agency and the church will facilitate a favorable result.”

The Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel who was at the meeting thanked the immigration officials for the support they render to members of the Catholic Church in the country.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]