giovedì 20 luglio 2017

Abuna Antonios, il Patriarca legittimo della Chiesa Eritrea, ha partecipato domenica a una celebrazione eucaristica. Sotto scorta e senza diritto di parola.

Antonios of HamassinAbuna Antonios è stato visto in pubblico domenica scorsa: il regime l'ha portato a una celebrazione eucaristica. Radio France International ha pubblicato la notizia e un commento:
Dal 2006 non si era mai più visto, era tenuto prigioniero in un luogo nascosto. 
Il Patriarca eritreo ha compiuto da poco 90 anni e le pressioni sul governo perché liberi sono aumentate. Se Antonios potesse parlare, il dramma degli eritrei che muoiono nel mare e nel deserto avrebbe una voce che li unisca. Senza, non ce l'hanno.  


Gli allievi di Abuna Antonios emigrati in America hanno pubblicato la sua storia:

Eritrean crossHis Holiness Abune Antonios, Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church

Patriarch Antonios was born in 1927 in the town of Hembrti, to the north of Asmara in the province of Hamisien. His father was a priest and at the age of five he entered the monastery of Debre Tsege Abuna Andrewes where he was educated for the service of the church, being ordained a deacon when he was twelve. Professed a monk and ordained priest in 1942, he was elected Abbot in 1955.
When the Eritrean Orthodox Tewhado Church first sought its independence, he was one of the five abbots of monasteries to be sent to Egypt to be ordained a bishop so that the church would have its own Holy Synod. He was ordained as Bishops Antonios of Hamasien-Asmara on 19 June 1994 in St. Mark’s Cathedral, Cairo, at the hands of His Holiness Shenouda III, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria..
Following the death in 2003 of Abune Yacoub, second Patriarch of the Eritrean Church, he was elected Patriarch in popular elections which were unanimously endorsed by the Holy Synod. His ordination and enthronement as Patriarch took place on 23 April in Asmara, at the hands of Pope Shenouda III, assisted by Eritrean and Coptic Orthodox Metropolitans and Bishops.

Concern had been growing about government interference in religious affairs and Patriarch Antonios increasingly resisted government interference, especially instructions emanating from Mr. Yeftehe Dimetros, the government’s official responsible for church matters. In January 2005 the Patriarch’s annual Nativity message was not broadcast or televised and the Eritrean Holy Synod met on 6-7 August 2005 with the main purpose of removing all executive authority from the Patriarch. Among accusations brought against the Patriarch, were his reluctance to excommunicate 3,000 members of the Medhane Alem, an Orthodox Sunday School movement, and his demands that the government should release imprisoned Christians accused of treason. He was allowed to officiate at church services but prohibited from having any administrative rôle in church affairs.
At first the government denied the removal of the Patriarch and pointed to the fact that he was performing certain ceremonial functions but while he was under virtual house arrest at his residence in Asmara a delegation travelled to Egypt on 25 July to seek the support of Pope Shenouda, for his deposition and replacement. His Holiness refused to recognise this as a canonical act and urged the faithful to pray for Patriarch Antonios who “is passing through a great tribulation. We hope that the Lord will rescue him.”

On 13 January 2006 a secret session of the Holy Synod was held in Asmara which formally removed the Patriarch from office and his detention was tightened to ensure he remained incommunicado. On 20 January, 2007, two priests accompanied by three security agents of the government entered the Patriarch’s residence and confiscated his personal pontifical insignia.
On 27 May 2007, in violation of the church’s constitution and canons, the government installed Bishop Dioscoros of Mendefera as anti-Patriarch. The same day, in the early hours of the morning, Abune Antonios, was forcibly removed from his residence and transported to an undisclosed location. The Patriarch suffers from severe diabetes and fears have been expressed for his continued wellbeing.


La pubblicazione di Radio France International: 

Eritrea accused of manipulating Orthodox Church leader's reappearance

Orthodox Eritrean priests take part in the festival of Meskel, September 2007.AFP Photo/Peter Martell
Eritrean authorities have stage-managed the first public appearance in 10 years of Patriarch Abune Antonios, rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide has told RFI. The former head of the country’s Orthodox Church had been under house arrest for opposing the government's attempts to control one of the country’s largest Christian denominations.

“Everything points to trying to manage a narrative because of international pressure,” said Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Khataza Gondwe, referring to Antonios’s appearance during mass at a cathedral in Asmara on Sunday.
Despite being present at the service, Antonios was not allowed to say anything, people were forbidden from taking photographs and afterwards he was returned to where he is being detained, said Gondwe. “There were suspicions that this might not be all that it cracked up to be,” she added.
The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution calling for the patriarch’s release, while the French government in June said that his continued house arrest showed the Eritrean government’s “serious and persistent violation of the freedom of religion or belief and fundamental freedoms”.
“There’s been mounting international pressure about his case, he recently turned 90 years old, there was no justification for holding a 90-year-old under house arrest for all these years,” said Gondwe, who heads up the London-based religious rights group’s Africa team. “I think it was becoming an embarrassment.”
Last seen in public in 2006
The former leader of Eritrea’s Orthodox Church had protested against the government’s meddling in church business and was last seen publicly at the end of 2006.
“He had increasingly been objecting to government interference in church affairs. The government wanted to tighten its control of the main Christian religious group,” said Gondwe.
“He was progressively deprived of his powers, including administrative oversight of the patriarchate, then he was confined in his residence and later in 2007 he was taken to an unknown destination and held under house arrest that became increasing stringent,” she added.
The European Parliament’s resolution outlined the patriarch’s refusal “to excommunicate 3,000 parishioners who opposed the government” as one of the reasons for his detention. Since then “he has been held in an unknown location where he has been denied medical care”, the adopted text said.
A statement by Eritrea's Orthodox Church said that the "issue" with Antonios had "come to an end" on 11 July following a meeting of the Synod, according to a translation of the Tigrigna statement by the church's diocese in the US and Canada. It said the meeting of the church's council had "come to conclusion with full reconciliation, peace and love".
Eritrea’s Orthodox Church plays an important role in a society that is reported to be approximately half Muslim and half Christian. It is the largest Christian denomination in Eritrea in terms of membership, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Gebremeskel told RFI that "the country is a secular state and does not intervene in purely religious affairs".