“Avoid hate speech, preach love, peace”: Ethiopia’s Catholic Bishops in New Year Message

President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia, Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel. Credit: Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat/Facebook

Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia have, in a message ahead of the country’s New Year Day celebrations, called on the people of God in the Horn of Africa nation to embrace peace amid growing violence. 

Ethiopia has been experiencing a humanitarian crisis since last November when war erupted in the country’s Tigray region. 

“We encourage those who work for peace and reconciliation in the country and abroad to avoid hate speech and we pray that they will preach love and peace in this new year,” members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) say in the Thursday, September 9 message.

In the message signed by CBCE President, Barhenayesus Cardinal Souraphiel, the Catholic Bishops add, “In our time we have seen the badness of war twice so we will pray for peace and hope this new year.”

Violence in Tigray started when forces from the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) allegedly launched an offensive on Ethiopia’s Federal Government Army base.


Since then, thousands have been reported dead and more than five million people in need of urgent humanitarian aid as a result of the violence that has spread to the neighboring Afar region, a State in the Northeastern part of the country which is inhabited by the Afar people.

On September 8, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with victims of the ongoing conflict ahead of the country’s New Year Day celebrations.

“New Year's Day will be celebrated in Ethiopia this coming 11 September. I extend to the Ethiopian people my most cordial and heart-felt greetings, particularly to those who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict and the serious humanitarian situation it has caused,” Pope Francis said.

The Holy Father added, “May this be a moment of fraternity and solidarity so that the common desire for peace can be heard.”

In their September 9 message, the Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia call on Christians to reach out to the needy with humanitarian aid. 

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“Dear Christians, we would like to entrust you to fulfill your Christian duty to help the poor, the needy, and the displaced in this New Year's celebration,” the Bishops say, and add, “As the Apostle Paul puts it, ‘helping one another is a sacrifice to God.’” 

CBCE members also pray that the New Year, which is known as “Enkutatash” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official language, “be a year of peace, health, love and unity for all Ethiopians and people of Ethiopian descent in different countries and places, patients in hospitals and homes, all our children in war and conflict and even inmates in prisons.” 

“We pray that God will mercifully visit the families of those who have been torn apart by war,” the Catholic Bishops implore in their September 9 message.  

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.