Make Dissemination of Encyclicals Your Responsibility, Ethiopian Priest to Church Leaders

Fr. Abenet Abebe, Director of the office of Family, Marriage, Laity and Youth at the Ethiopia Episcopal Conference. Credit: ACI Africa

Church leaders including Parish Priests and officials of the Justice and Peace departments have the responsibility to ensure that people receive all communication from the Holy Father, including the Encyclical Letters, an Ethiopian Catholic Priest who is attending the 20th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) has said.

Fr. Abenet Abebe, the national Director of the Office of Family, Marriage, Laity and Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) said that Priests, in particular, should not have an excuse when the people under their pastoral care fail to get the messages of the Holy Father.

“As shepherds, we are supposed to share the messages that the Holy Father gives out to the Church. It is our obligation to keep the people updated with what the Pope is saying through his announcements and letters; if not for ourselves as Pastors, then for the ones we have been put in charge of,” Fr. Abenet said in a Wednesday, July 13 interview with ACI Africa.

Fr. Abenet made the remarks after it emerged that some Catholic Clergy and Religious were not aware that Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ existed, seven years into its unveiling.

In a study that was conducted by the Caritas and Justice and Peace departments of AMECEA, it emerged that 5 percent of Clergy in the AMECEA countries have no awareness of Pope Francis’ encyclical.


The study sought to find out ways in which the Laudato Si’ had been implemented in the AMECEA region, how the implementation of Laudato Si’ had contributed to human integral development, and what factors promoted or hindered the implementation of Laudato Si’.

Asked about how they rate themselves and others on the knowledge and awareness of Laudato Si’, some 10 percent of Clergy and Religious in the region said that they have very little knowledge of Laudato Si’.

In the study, the Clergy and Religious said that only 15 percent of Parish leaders were quite knowledgeable about Laudato Si’ while 47 percent have very little knowledge of the Papal document.

In the interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Abenet said that although not many people, including the Clergy, enjoy reading, Priests should always read letters sent by the Holy Father for the sake of the other members of the Church.

“Not very many people enjoy reading. But in this case, we are not reading for ourselves. We are reading to disseminate the information to the people of God. And we should not just read and keep quiet,” the Ethiopian Catholic Priest said.

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He added, “Once we read, we must look for all possible avenues to disseminate the information, including during homilies and workshops and seminars.”

In an attempt to explain why some Catholic Clergy and Religious in the AMECEA region had not interacted with Laudato Si’, Mr. Herbert Makinda who led a team of researchers that worked on the study said that AMECEA is a large region, noting that some places in the region are “very remote, some without internet connection to access documents.”

But according to Fr. Abenet, Priests can always find a way to ensure that documents of the universal Church reach the people.

The CBCE official said, “Where there is a will, there is a way. A Priest living in a remote place that has no internet can plan to travel to the city and print out copies of the Pope’s document and take it to the people. It calls for personal initiative.”

He said that when the Laudato Si’ document was unveiled in May 2015, Church leaders in Ethiopia embarked on translating the document into the country’s local language to facilitate efficient engagement with the people.


Additionally, workshops and homilies were prepared in line with the document to create awareness among the people who then started engaging in practical activities such as tree planting to implement the Holy Father’s document.

Fr. Abenet narrated that environmental conservation in Ethiopia also received a major boost from the government that launched a strategy to plant 5 billion trees every year to make the country green.

The government, the Ethiopian Catholic Priest said, had also encouraged the planting of fruit trees and kitchen gardens to achieve tree cover and get a source of food while at it.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.