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Resolutions of North American Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Resolutions of the Diocese of North America Of The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church September 17, 2005 The Council of Priests and the Administrative Board of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2005
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      Resolutions of the Diocese of North America Of The Eritrean Orthodox
      Tewahdo Church

      September 17, 2005

      The Council of Priests and the Administrative Board of the North American
      Diocese of the Eritrean Orthodox Church convened its special session at the
      Debre Gi'ezan Medhane Alem Church in Atlanta , Georgia today, September 17,
      2005 , to deliberate on the deteriorating situation in the Eritrean
      Orthodox Church.

      1. Having discussed at length the various documents that have caused
      the serious fissure within the ranks of the Eritrean Orthodox Church

      2. Taking note of the recent failed visit by Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros,
      accompanied by Abune Dioscoros and Abune Markos, to explore the possibility
      of and in an attempt to gain support to illegally dethrone His Holiness
      Abune Antonios the 3rd, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, from his
      seat

      3. Realizing the grave actions of the Holy Synod, as stated in the two
      letters signed by Abune Petros and Abune Sinoda and distributed in North
      America announcing the removal of His Holiness Abune Antonios, the
      Patriarch of Eritrea, from all his administrative duties, effective 18 July
      2005, in complete violation of the Canon (Law) of the Church.

      4. Fully aware of the presence of Abune Lukas and Abune Sinoda in
      North America without the expressed blessing of His Holiness Abune
      Antonios, and their activities, the purpose of which is to render
      ineffective the North America Diocese that has over the last few years been
      engaged in gathering the faithful and helping them to organize themselves
      into churches

      5. Saddened by the relentless attempts of Abune Lukas and Abune Sinoda
      to sow seeds of discord among the faithful that have been flocking back to
      the faith of their fathers, walking in strong bond of unity, and working to
      pass the torch of our faith to the next generation,

      The Council deliberated on all these developments and passed the following
      resolutions:

      I. On the Question of His Holiness Abune Antonios:

      1. The Council affirms His Holiness Abune Antonios to be the Patriarch
      of our apostolic, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and the head of the Holy Synod.

      2. We denounce the letter of the Synod of July 2005 that was
      subsequently circulated to churches. The letter, which contains trumped-up
      accusations as well as a decision by some members of the synod to remove
      "His Holiness from all administrative duties, save the offering of
      ceremonial benedictions," uses a language that is unbecoming. The reference
      in the letter to the alleged "misdeeds" of His Holiness which resulted in
      his dethronement as "excommunicable words and excommunicable actions" is
      not only illegal, but beneath the dignity of the Synod.

      3. On the basis of the Constitution of the Church and its Canon, no
      proceeding of the Synod can be called "Holy" unless it is chaired and
      administered by a properly consecrated Patriarch. Consequently, we strongly
      oppose the illegal proceeding, which calls itself "Holy Synod" and removed
      the Patriarch from all his administrative duties.

      4. In line with the Resolution of July 30, 2005 of the North American
      Diocese of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Council reiterates that the
      Diocese will not abide by any decision of a Synod that is not led by His
      Holiness, the Patriarch, and any decision that does not bear his signature
      and seal.

      5. Moreover, in accordance with the Canons and traditions of our
      sisterly Oriental churches, we believe that the enthronement of a patriarch
      is for life. Therefore, we call for the return of His Holiness Abune
      Antonios to his throne. Again, we reiterate that we will not accept any
      decisions, guidelines, or messages coming from anywhere unless accompanied
      by the signature and seal His Holiness.

      6. According to Article 4 of the fitih menfesawi: "In maintaining the
      faith, in upholding the canon, in feeding the flock, and in all spiritual
      laws, a patriarch is a representative of Christ."

      II. On the Question of All the Attempts at Rendering the Diocese Null and Void:

      1. It is to be recalled that the Diocese of North America had sent a
      letter of request [for a bishop] along with all the necessary details and
      information to the Holy Synod that was led by the Patriarch. The Council
      observed with dismay the unexpected arrival of Abune Sinoda without the
      blessings, farewell, or an accompanying letter from His Holiness.
      Therefore, the Council concludes that the manner of Abune Sinoda's arrival
      is neither legal nor addresses our official request.

      2. It is further recalled that the administration of the Diocese had
      been working tirelessly to unite the people behind the idea of bringing a
      bishop. The Diocese had been evaluating its capability to support such a
      development, and to transform itself into a hagere sibket (a higher level
      of organization) in North America . Owing to the dangerous occurrences we
      are witnessing, however, we notice that this work has suffered a severe
      reversal.

      3. Besides coming to the United States without the permission and
      blessings of His Holiness, before even sending his greeting to the Diocese,
      before making any attempt at introducing himself to anyone in the Diocese,
      and before offering any benediction, Abune Sinoda's first official act was
      to issue and distribute the infamous letter bearing his signature, which
      was dated August 28, 2005. The letter stated: "His Holiness Abune Antonios
      was relieved of all his administrative duties." The Council denounces such
      a flagrant act.

      4. Because Abune Sinoda (a) is engaged in the above mentioned
      unbecoming act against the very Patriarch who had anointed him bishop (b)
      because of his unilateral and relentless efforts to render the Diocese of
      North America null and void, and (c) because of his strident attacks
      against those who have worked so diligently over the years to build the
      Diocese in to what it is today, the Council, therefore, resolves that the
      Diocese will not abide by any decision or directives he issues.

      5. The Council further denounces the fact that Abune Sinoda and Abune
      Lukas went over the decision of the Holy Synod to meet with those few
      congregations that had not recognized the Holy Synod and the Eritrean
      Orthodox Church. It is to be recalled that these congregations had
      side-stepped the Eritrean Orthodox Church and had brought their tabot from
      Ethiopia .

      6. On all spiritual matters, the Dioceses of North America, as before,
      will be led by the Council of Priests and the Administrative Board under
      the umbrella of the Holy Synod, led by the Patriarch. All matters affecting
      the administration and finances of the Diocese will be governed in
      accordance with the laws of the country under which it operates.

      7. As far as the question of the possible dissolution of the Diocese
      is concerned, one thing needs to be clear. The basis of its administration
      and handling of its finances is the non-profit (501(c)3) status the Diocese
      enjoys under the U.S. law. It is a legally constituted entity. Accordingly,
      no one has the right to dissolve the Diocese, but only those whom the law
      of the country recognizes as its officials or the government of the United
      States itself. If the Diocese is to be transformed into a hagere sibket ,
      it can only be done under the legal framework of the United States - not by
      fiat, as Abune Sinoda has tried to do.

      8. In accordance with the By-laws of the Diocese, all proceedings of
      the Council of the Clergy will be chaired by its chairman. On the other
      hand, all the proceedings of the Administrative Board will be chaired by
      its respective chairperson. The general session, which consists of both
      bodies, will be chaired by the chairman of the Council of the Clergy. His
      counterpart in the Board will serve as the secretary.

      9. The Council further resolves - in all spiritual matters with the
      Holy Synod, led by the Patriarch - all communications of the Diocese will
      be conducted through the Executive Committee of the Council of the Clergy
      and the Administrative Board.

      10. All the duties of Fr. Ghebremichael Yohannes in his capacity as
      Arch-Priest of the Diocese of North America , that is, facilitating
      communications between the Diocese and the Holy Synod, will henceforth be
      assumed by the Executive Committee of the Council of the Clergy and the
      Board of Trustees.

      11. The Council notes the vital contributions of the Educational Branch of
      the Diocese of North America in organizing the talents and gifts of the
      educated children of the Church, their efforts in the development of
      literature, and the gathering of essential teaching material. The Council
      calls upon them to forge ahead in their laudable work.

      12. The Diocese of North America has consistently shown its love for the
      people of Eritrea and its unwavering commitment to extend its helping hands
      to them. It is to be recalled that in the aftermath of the most recent
      invasion of our country by the Woyane , the Diocese had raised $167,000
      (one hundred thousand U.S. dollars) in a very short time and had sent it to
      the Patriarchate to help with the rebuilding of the destroyed churches and
      monasteries. In addition, the Diocese has a history of commemorating our
      national martyr's day annually by raising funds to help the orphaned in
      Eritrea . The Council resolves to continue this worthy tradition to help
      our people and our orphans.

      III. On the Question of the Unity of the Church and the Faithful

      1. The activities of Abune Lukas and Abune Sinoda in North America
      have put the unity and love among our people, which has been built and
      maintained through much effort, in grave danger. For this, they bear full
      responsibility.

      2. On our part, saddened as we are by the efforts of the bishops to
      create disunity in our church and among our people, we resolve, by God's
      grace, to work ever more vigorously to promote unity.

      3. We call upon the faithful of our church to confront the gathering
      storm that is trying our unity with fasting and prayer.

      May God grant us His peace and grace!

      September 17, 2005

      Atlanta , Georgia .

      United States of America
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