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ናይ ኤርትራ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን
ንኡስ ሃገረ ስብከት ሰሜን ኣሜሪካ
Eritrean Tewahdo Orthodox Church
Diocese of North America

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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