Eritrean Orthodox church’s new patriarch consecrated


The Eritrean Orthodox church has consecrated a new patriarch as the former leader remains in detention.

Reverend Abune Qerlos was installed as the 5th patriarch in a ceremony in the capital, Asmara, on Sunday.

Church critics say that the Orthodox church does not allow the election of a new patriarch while a sitting one is still alive.

Reverend Abune Antonios was the head of the church until 2006 when he was accused of heresy.

He has for a long time been a critic of the government and was deposed and put under house arrest 15 years ago.

In July 2019, Eritrean bishops in the Orthodox Church removed the patriarch and instructed the congregation “never to acknowledge and remember his name”.

Although he was expelled from being a member of the church, the bishops said he could still live in a church building.

Orthodox, Evangelical Lutheran, Catholic churches, as well as Sunni Islam, are the only religions allowed in the country.

Eritrea has in the past been accused of religion-related oppression.

The Eritrean government accuses Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians of being instruments of foreign governments.

In April, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report recommending that the State Department identify Eritrea as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) due to its serious abuses of religious freedom.

Isaias Afwerki has been president of Eritrea since its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, with no elections or parliament and a draft constitution that has never been implemented.