an assassination attempt against the Italian governor, the occupying authority bombed a number of monasteries, most prominently Dabra Libanos. Hundreds died in these attacks. The policy of terror was followed by a policy of accommodation and by attempts, eventually successful, in the short run, to break the ecclesiastical ties between Addis Ababa and Alexandria. Pressure to break with Alexandria pushed Abuna Qerelos, the metropolitan, beyond his willingness to cooperate with the Italians, and he left for Egypt. The Italians seized this opportunity to call an ecclesiastical assembly, which, at the end of 1937, formally elected Abuna Abreham (one of the original five Ethiopian bishops and designated acting archbishop by Qerelos on his departure) to the status of archbishop and metropolitan and sanctioned the breaking of relations with Alexandria. Abreham then consecrated five newbishops. Although their action met with excommunication from Alexandria and from the leading Ethiopian churchman in exile, Ecagé Gabra Giyorgis, the Italians had pressed the issue of independence to its logical end. But they did so in defiance of Alexandria, not with its acquiescence. Gaining that acquiescence was the task taken up by Haile Sellassie on his return to power in 1941, by which time Abreham, who died in 1939, and his successor had consecrated twelve bishops, who, in turn, had ordained numerous priests and deacons and blessed many tabots.
Qerelos returned to Ethiopia in 1942 and resumed his position as archbishop and metropolitan. The Copts lifted their excommunication from the entire Ethiopian Church, including those who had been consecrated bishop during the Italian occupation, provided that the latter return to the status which they had previously held. Nationalist feelings continued to run high, with an Ethiopian ecclesiastical council demanding immediate autonomy in November 1945. The emperor had scruples over the Apostolic Succession and shared with his nineteenth-century predecessors deference to Alexandrian authority. He therefore did not support the demand which challenged his control of the process. The Copts nevertheless felt threatened by the Ethiopian demand and finally agreed in 1948 to the consecration, in Alexandria, of four Ethiopians as bishops.84 One of them was Ecage Gabra Giyorgis, who took the episcopal name of Baselyos, another, who was eventually to succeed Baselyos in his high office, took the name Tewoflos. The understanding was that, on the death of Qerelos, his successor would be an Ethiopian. Qerelos died in October 1950. The followingJanuary Baselyos was elected by an Ethiopian assembly and consecrated as the first Ethiopian archbishop and metropolitan. Eight years later,
84 For the text of this agreement, see Aymro and Motavu, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Appendix C.
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