ADDIS ABABA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia (CBCE) has described as misleading, reports that churches had started closing down in troubled Ethiopia’s Tigray region and that priests and religious nuns had fled due to the continued spate of insecurity in the region whose effects are felt across the country.
In a statement shared on August 6 by the bishops umbrella association in Ethiopia, the Bishops accused the media of representing facts, noting that “some online and print media are misinterpreting the content of the recent statement issued by the conference in July.”
“The statement never states about the fleeing of Priests and Nuns or closing of Churches in Tigray. The intention of the statement is reflecting the major challenges in Ethiopia in different conflict affected areas. It deals not with any specific condition in Tigray, ” the Bishops said in a new joint statement.
They added: “The conference didn’t receive any official report from Adigrat Dioceses, which is in Tigray, about the fleeing of Priests and Nuns or closing of Churches so far. Therefore, we request all media to revert any publication related to the aforementioned information and take a quick corrective measure.”
The bishops in the earlier statement reiterated that the insecurity had made it difficult for the church to effectively carry out its pastoral work in many parishes including those in the Diocese of Adigrat in Tigray.
For more than 20 months in Tigray, Bishop Tesfaselassie Medhin of Adigrat, his priests, and the people of the region have remained cut off from the rest of the country as the government keeps the blockade in place.
While urging the parties in the conflict to focus on peace, dialogue and reconciliation to end the suffering of the people, Cardinal Surafel Berhaneyesus said the citizens are still being killed and exiled because of their identity in many places.
Due to the government and occupation forces’ blockade, the two actions have isolated the church from its pastors and communities, international Catholic networks, and the rest of the world, according to the bishop.