Awramba Times (Addis Ababa) – Reliable sources from the patriarch office in Addis Ababa told Awramba Times that Abune Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has died at the age of 76 at Balcha hospital.
Abune Paulos was born in Adwa in November 03,1935. His birth name was Gebre Medhin Wolde Yohannes. His family was long associated with the Abba Garima Monastery near the town of Adwa, and he entered the monastery as a young boy as a deacon trainee, eventually taking monastic orders and being ordained a priest. Then known as Abba Gebre Medhin, he continued his education at the Theological College of the Holy Trinity in Addis Ababa under the patronage of Patriarch Abune Tewophilos. He was sent to study at the St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States, and afterwards joined the doctoral program at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
In 1974, his education was interrupted by a summons from Patriarch Abune Tewophilos, and returned to Addis Ababa shortly after the revolution that toppled Emperor Haile Selassie. He was anointed a bishop along with four others, assuming the name and style of Abune Paulos, and given responsibility for ecumenical affairs by the Patriarch. But because the Patriarch had named these new bishops without the permission of the new Derg communist junta, all five men were arrested, and the Patriarch was eventually executed. Abune Paulos and his fellow bishops were imprisoned until 1983. Abune Paulos returned to Princeton in 1984 to complete his doctoral degree there, and began his life in exile. He was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by Patriarch Abune Takla Haymanot in 1986 while in exile.
Following the fall of the Derg in 1991, the then Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Merkorios, was dethroned in circumstances that remain under dispute. Patriarch Abune Merkorios and his supporters maintain that he was forced from office by the new EPRDF-led government and its supporters, while his opponents maintain that the Patriarch abdicated following numerous protests against him by the faithful. His attempt to reverse his abdication was refused by the Holy Synod of the Church which authorized a new Patriarchal election. Abune Paulos was elected in 1992, and Abune Merkorios and his supporters went into exile, establishing a rival synod in the United States. The enthronement of Abune Paulos as Patriarch is still recognized by the Coptic Patriarchate in Alexandria, Egypt.
Patriarch Abune Paulos who has worked on the reconciliation process between Ethiopia and Eritrea also met with President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir of Sudan in Khartoum to try to find a peaceful solution to the Darfur conflict that has been labeled as a genocide by Western critics.
The patriarch has been attending medications for a long time and his illness has been reported in Awramba Times yesterday. According to our sources his body has arrived at the patriarch office.