Recent reports about the shameful treatment of His Holiness Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church; to the effect that agents of Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros, the government appointed General Secretary of the Holy Synod, recently entered his place of confinement and removed his pontifical insignia and other personal effects, is further evidence of the indignities to which this holy and venerable prelate has been subjected since his illegal and uncanonical removal from office.
The despicable behaviour of Mr. Dimetros and of the faithless members of the Holy Synod under the intruded leadership of Bishop Dioscoros, and all those who willingly support their actions, are a shame and reproach to the Orthodox Church of Eritrea and the fruits of the apostasy and tyranny of the President of the Republic of Eritrea. These men have sat as false judges of Patriarch Antonios and, having demonstrated themselves to be without respect or pity for his consecrated calling, his health and well-being, have now placed themselves under the judgement of Almighty God.
I urge all Christians to pray fervently for the persecuted Eritrean Orthodox Christians and not to forget the Patriarch in his captivity but to keep him in special prayer and hold him and his righteous cause before the Lord in ardent supplication.
The Latest on H.H. Patriarch Antonios: His Person and Residence Violated
Thursday, 25 January 2007
On Saturday morning, January 20, 2007, Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros sent two priests accompanied by three security agents of the government to the residence of H.H. Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church. Once there, they confiscated the following list of material from him:
- All his Patriarchal vestments
- The chain of the Apostle St. Mark
- The Patriarchal holy scepter of Moses and of the shepherd
- The Holy Myron that was handed down to the Eritrean Church from St. Mark.
- Another patriarchal chain of St. Mark
- Many other holy personal effects
The two priests that were sent by Mr. Yoftahe Dimetros to undertake such shameless act were Keshi Fitsum Tesfai[Priest at St George, Alfaramio, Asmara] and Keshi Gebretatyos Kidane [Priest at St Atnatios, Godaif Asmara]. As stated above, these priests were accompanied by three security agents of the government.
No one at the moment knows with any degree of certitude the physical status of His Holiness. But it is conceivable that he might have been roughed up by the intruders and possibly sustained injuries. Should this be the case, he has not been taken to a hospital. Therefore, he could quite possible be suffering in the confines of his residence without anyone attending to his needs.
On the other hand, despite all the obstacles, we want you to know that we have been following the sad developments in our church and the suffering of His Holiness for the sake of his faith and the Church he loves so much. We are saddened by the actions of Bishop Dioscoros, who, despite the anathema that has been placed upon him and against the canon of our church, is being groomed for his illegal and uncanonical consecration and enthronement to the seat of the Patriarch.
H. H. Patriarch Antonios was offered up to the Lord by his parents at the very tender age of five. He was chosen as the first Eritrean bishop to be consecrated in 1993. Also, in 1977, he was the first to be chosen by his fellow bishops to become the first archbishop of Eritrea. Yet again, in 2004, he was chosen from among his peers by a near unanimous vote to become the Third Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.
Many who know him closely attest to His Holiness being a person of few words. He is known for his foresight, wisdom, and a life given to prayer.
May God grant him his peace and health.
With Much Sadness,
Monks, Priests and Deacons of the Orthodox Church.