Pope Mourns Death of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch
The Ethiopian Orthodox patriarch, Abune Paulos, died 17 Aug. in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was 76. The patriach was a strong voice for peace and development in Africa and a leader in the worldwide ecumenical movement. He is pictured at a session of the Sy nod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican in this 6 Oct. 2009 file photo. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
21 Aug 2012 By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The patriarch of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a strong voice for peace and
development in Africa, died Aug. 17 in Addis Ababa at
the age of 76.
Abune Paulos, as he was known, was also a leader
in the worldwide ecumenical movement.
Offering his prayers and condolences to the 40
million members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Pope
Benedict XVI recalled the patriarch’s visits to the Vatican
and, especially, “the important observations he made”
when he addressed the special Synod of Bishops for
Africa at the Vatican in 2009.
Pope Benedict had invited the patriarch to be one
of the first speakers at the synod.
The patriarch called for all of the continent’s
religious leaders to work together “for peace and to protect
the natural resources God gave us and defend our
He had said Christianity requires social action,
including responding to the HIV pandemic, alleviating
poverty and hunger, and stopping violence and the
destruction of the environment.
“Social work is the meaning of apostleship.
Apostleship is the root of a real and compassionate social
work,” the patriarch told the synod.
In his condolence message to the bishops of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Pope Benedict also expressed
gratitude for the patriarch’s “firm commitment” to
promoting Christian unity and closer ties with the Catholic
Abune Paulos was one of eight presidents of the
World Council of Churches and served as a member of its
Faith and Order Commission, the body that deals most
closely with theological issues.
After his ordination as a priest, he studied at St.
Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers,
N.Y., and began his doctoral studies at the Princeton
Theology Seminary, but was called back to Ethiopia.
Imprisoned for several years by Ethiopia’s communist
regime, he was released in 1983 and returned to Princeton
the next year to finish his studies. He was elected patriarch
Father Hailegebriel Meleku, deputy secretary-
general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, told Vatican
Radio Aug. 17 that the patriarch was an important figure
in Ethiopia, not just as the “spiritual father of the
Orthodox, but for the whole Ethiopian people. His death
leaves a great void for the Orthodox religious community,
for the Muslim community, for the Catholic Church and
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Paulos Catholic-Ethiopian Orthodox Relations