ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen have held talks with the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Friday.
The meeting took place a week after the Church urged the federal government to prevent a breakaway by a group of its clergy in the populous Oromia region.
The group seeking to break away, led by Belai Mekonnen, is unhappy that the Orthodox Church mainly conducts its services in Amharic, Ethiopia’s official working language.
The group wants church masses to be held in Afaan Oromo, which is spoken by the Oromo community, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.
During the discussion, the PM office said the Synod raised the challenges facing the church amid the reform process in the country.
The Prime Minister said he and his Government’s aspiration is to see a united Orthodox Church that could contribute its share for nation-building.
The PM stressed the importance of the unity of religious institutions in the country, according to his office’s statement.
If there are challenges, it said there should be a united front to overcome them, the statement said.
The majority of Ethiopia’s population of more than 100 million people belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – one of the oldest Christian denominations in the world.