However, there were distinct limits to the extent to which the church was now free to govern itself. The revised Ethiopian constitution of 1955 recognised Orthodox Christianity as the state religion and made provision for the state financially to support the church.88 The constitution also gave the emperor the right to promulgate edicts, decrees and regulations for the church and to approve the candidates nominated for election to the ranks of bishop and archbishop.89 The management of the secular affairs of the patriarchate was in the hands of an official appointed by the emperor. Six months after Baselyos's elevation to the status of patriarch, the emperor opened a department of religion within his private cabinet, directing to it 20 per cent of general church revenues, and re-creating the division of ecclesiastical authority which had characterised the royal courts of old. To head the department he appointed Liqa Seltenat Habta Maryam, who was also head ofthe 'Holy Trinity Cathedral', Haile Sellassie's 'royal' church.

Within the framework of its own history and expectations the Ethiopian Orthodox Church had become autonomous. Intimate relations with the palace were part of those expectations. Haile Sellassie had realised the vision of Zar'a Ya'qob, Tewodros and Yohannes IV - a state and nation to which a church, embedded in local culture and internationally recognised, was central, a church in which episcopal and monastic authority were reconciled. It was a church with increasing numbers of adherents beyond its own borders, in the Caribbean and North America. However, the country which Haile Sellassie had inherited from Yohannes and Menilek was not the country of Gondar times, but a multiethnic state in which the language with the largest number of first-language speakers was not Amharic, but Oromo; one in which Muslims constituted a very significant proportion of the population.90 Moreover it was a country whose government had unleashed forces of modernity, which, increasingly, proved beyond its control; one in which ethnic relations were complicated by class relations deriving from a system of land tenure that ensured inequality. It was a country on a continent and in a region of increasing volatility. It was a country on the verge of revolution.

88 For passages from the revised Constitution of1955, ofrelevance to the church, see Aymro and Motavu, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Appendix B.

89 Adugna, Autocephalous', 51-2.

90 In spite of several recent censuses the numbers surrounding ethnicity and religious adherence remain highly controversial.

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