Resolutions of North American Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church
- Resolutions of the Diocese of North America Of The Eritrean Orthodox
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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