Sunday, January 14, 2007

Modern day persecution of the Orthodox Church

LOS ANGELES – The government of Eritrea wrested financial and personnel control away from the Eritrean Orthodox Church last week, the day after security police jailed nine staff of a Christian aid agency.

In an ultimatum delivered to the church’s Asmara headquarters on December 5, the state demanded that all offerings and tithes collected through the Orthodox Church be deposited directly into a government account.

According to the unilateral order, effective immediately the monthly salaries of all Orthodox priests are to be paid out from this government-controlled fund of church income.

In a related policy, the government also announced new limits for the number of priests to be allowed to serve in each parish throughout the country.

The order specified that any “extra” priests beyond this quota who are now serving in any given parish would be required to report to the Wi’a Military Training Center, to perform their required military service.

The leadership of the Eritrean Orthodox Church has reportedly accepted the government demands, forwarding formal notice of the new regulations to every Orthodox parish in the country.

Ignoring church canons, the regime of President Isaias Afwerki removed the church’s ordained Patriarch Abune Antonios from office in August 2005 and placed him under house arrest. After installing a lay administrator, the government then put forward Abune Dioscoros as Antonios’ unofficial successor.

The Catholic Church of Eritrea reportedly continues to reject government demands to curtail their staff of priests or send them to military service.

Read the rest here...

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