The highest decision-making body of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – the Holy Synod – has issued an apology to the people of Tigray in connection with the devastating war that unfolded in the Tigray region.
In a statement released on Thursday, the synod expressed regret for not ensuring the safety of church leaders and followers during the conflict.
Criticism has been directed towards the church from bishops, priests and worshippers in Tigray for not condemning the war, which resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.
Earlier this year, Tigray bishops had even announced their intention to establish an independent church outside the synod and appoint their own bishops.
Since the conclusion of the war in late 2022, the Holy Synod has been actively seeking reconciliation with the Orthodox leaders in Tigray.
A statement from the synod read that it had “officially apologised for the failure to promptly deliver humanitarian assistance in accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod after the war ended and peace was restored”.
A member of the Tigray executive committee of bishops told the BBC that “forgiveness is a fundamental principle and process within the church. While we cannot view this as a significant step forward, it does mark a positive beginning”.
He criticised the apology as a tactical move that fell short of acknowledging the magnitude of the injustices committed.
The bishop clarified that the church recognises His Holiness Abune Matthias as their patriarch and has no intentions of appointing any other patriarch.