Eritrea denies patriarch axing
- Asmara - The government of Eritrea on Wednesday denied a report on
an opposition internet site that it had fired the patriarch of the
The site, www.asmarino.com, said the government of the Horn of
Africa country had made an attack on religion "one of the
cornerstones of its repressive policies".
Information minister Ali Abdu rejected the website as "trash" and
said patriarch Abune Antonios was still at his post.
He rejected suggestions that the government had interfered in the
leadership and administration of the church, the largest Christian
body in Eritrea.
Abdu said: "Abune Antonios is still the patriarch of the Orthodox
Church of Eritrea."
Job descriptions, job divisions
He said: "Our state system is secular, that is separate from
religion. The synod elects the patriarch, it is a sovereign entity,
it chooses the job descriptions and job divisions."
The website had over the past week run several stories alleging that
the government had sacked Abune for protesting official interference
in the running of the church.
It said the patriarch "is allowed to lead a spiritual life, but
prohibited from playing any administrative roles in the daily
operation of the Church.
"Abune has dared to challenge the government from interfering in the
administration of the patriarchy".
Officials at Orthodox Church in Asmara last week said that Abune was
at home and declined to comment on whether he still worked there.
Eritrea's 3.5 million population was equally divided among Muslims