a new Coptic patriarch, eager to overcome tensions between the two churches exacerbated by the circumstances of his own election, publicly informed the Ethiopians of his 'desire' to elevate the head of the Ethiopian Church to the status of patriarch with full authority 'to appoint bishops and archbishops on his own'.85 On 28 June 1959, Archbishop Baselyos was anointed patriarch in a ceremony in Cairo attended by both the emperor and the Egyptian president Nasser. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church had become autocephalous. Since all the newly created bishops were drawn from the ranks of the monks, the process ended the tension between episcopal and monastic poles of authority in the church.

Now governed by a holy synod, consisting of six bishops, chaired by the patriarch, the church took on a new, more elaborate structure. By the mid-1960s it had fourteen dioceses, corresponding to the principal administrative divisions of the country, each headed by an archbishop, with an additional archbishop in Jerusalem. With the consecration of new bishops and archbishops, the episcopacy expanded, with archbishops resident in all the major provincial capitals, their courts and administrative structure modelled on the office of the patriarchate. Holy synod had authority over spiritual matters, while the material interests of the church were managed by an administrative board. One of the earliest acts of Haile Sellassie's restored government was a decree of 1942, establishing regulations for the administration of all church lands.86 Exactly how these regulations functioned is not very well known. A good deal of church revenue was now collected by the government and maintained in a special account in the government treasury.87 The government turned the bulk of these funds over to the patriarchate, where they became the responsibility of an administrator general, a secular official appointed by the emperor. At the same time, a good deal of church revenue continued to flow directly to the anciently endowed churches and monasteries, who thus retained a degree of material independence from the patriarch and provincial archbishops. The endowed churches also continued to exercise local administrative rights. The central administration of the church expanded, with offices for the oversight of such matters as education and development. In 1944 a theological college was established in Addis Ababa, where it eventually became affiliated to Haile Sellassie I University.

85 Adugna, 'Autocephalous', 48.

86 Crummey, Land and society, 237-40. For the text of this, and other fiscal decrees of the period, see Gabra Wald Engeda Warq, 'Ethiopia's traditional system of land tenure and taxation', Ethiopia Observer 5 (1962), 327-8, 331-2. See also Aymro and Motavu, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Appendix A.

87 Aymro and Motavu, Ethiopian Orthodox Church, 20.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment