Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia Urge Church Institutions to Embrace Culture of Forgiveness

Members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE). Credit: CBCE

Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) are calling for prayers for the healing of the people who have undergone suffering in the embattled parts of the country, and are urging Church institutions in the Horn of Africa nation to teach repentance and forgiveness. 

In their Monday, August 1 call for prayers, the Catholic Bishops regret the fact that a lot of blood has been spilled in the country owing to what they have referred to as social, political and economic misunderstandings.

“We have announced that forgiveness and repentance should be taught in all Catholic churches and its institutions,” CBCE members say.

In their call for prayers, they direct that the three-day spiritual exercise, starting August 1, be made “for the blood spilled for generations and for all generations due to the many social, economic and political misunderstandings that have arisen in Ethiopia.”

“May God give lasting peace to our country Ethiopia,” they add.


The Catholic Church in Ethiopia has been vocal about the deteriorating humanitarian situation and insecurity in the country, describing it as a “silent genocide”.

In a message that was shared with the information service of Propaganda Fide, Agenzia Fides, on July 26, Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin called upon those who are behind the massive loss of lives in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to work fast to resolve the situation.

“This continuous situation of silent genocide is consuming every day, minute and hour, an immense number of innocent lives of children, women and men of all ages,” Bishop Medhin said.

He added that Tigray, the Northernmost regional state in Ethiopia that was plunged into war in November 2020, is experiencing “a horrible situation”, which is getting worse.

The International Monitoring and Displacement Centre (IDMC) has reported that conflict and violence triggered over 5.1 million displacements within Ethiopia in 2021 – triple the number reported there in 2020 and the highest figure recorded for any country in a given year.

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And according to the latest assessment by the Tigray Bureau of Education, 346 males and 1,798 females, totaling 2,164 persons in the education sector, have been killed. Out of those, 235 are teachers and other professionals including school principals and supervisors.

Agenzia Fides has also reported that over 2 million people live in IDP centers in various cities, towns and rural areas of Tigray, including more than 100,000 in Adigrat, without food, shelter, water, medicine and other basic needs.

In their August 1 report, Bishops in Ethiopia appeal to the people to pray and to ask for “God’s forgiveness and help with compassion and trust.”

“In order to spend this time with fasting, prayer and forgiveness, we ask our fathers… and priests, as well as our church servants at every level to coordinate this prayer idea and pray the mentioned days with sincerity and ask for God's forgiveness and help with compassion and trust,” CBCE members say.

They implore, “May our creator have mercy on our land and for all generations who have been hurt all these years to be comforted. In our country Ethiopia from north to south and east.”


Meanwhile, in a message shared with ACI Africa Tuesday, August 2, an official of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS) recalls the message of CBCE members following their 53rd Plenary Assembly that was held in Addis Ababa from July 20-22.

Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia reflected “on the current affairs in the country”, the Social Communications and Public Relations Advisor of CBCE members, Habtamu Abrdew, says.

Mr. Abrdew has quoted CBCE members as saying, “The Church is facing a great challenge due to the lack of peace in the country, which is hindering her from carrying out apostolic services effectively. Many of our parishes, including Adigrat Diocese, share the challenge. Priests and Sisters have fled their places due to security, and the number of closed Chapels and Convents is increasing.”

In their message, the ECS official says, the Catholic Bishops appealed for cooperation, saying, “We strongly request that the government and the people work together to ensure peace in our country so that citizens can live freely.”

The citizens of Ethiopia, the Bishops said, “are also struggling to meet their basic needs. Citizens are still being killed and exiled because of their identity in many places (for recent example, in Wolga).”

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“As we have done in the past, we call on all concerned parties to focus on the option of peace, dialogue and reconciliation,” Catholic Bishops in Ethiopia have been quoted as saying, adding, “We assure to contribute our part to achieve peace. Our church will do its best to make the national dialogue that has started be successful. The church will continue to strengthen its contribution so that all possible efforts are made.”

CBCE members also appealed for humanitarian assistance. They said, “We also are very much concerned about our people affected by the drought and ask all concerned to work hard and united to reach them to receive emergency aid.”

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.