Catholic Pope Francis has called for prayers for Orthodox Christians facing persecution in Ethiopia.
He made the call on Sunday, saying prayer had become necessary for the Christians, who have been targeted in the raging ethnic clashes in the African country.
No fewer than 78 people have been reported killed in the violence since October 23 when it broke out in Oromia region.
About 400 people have also been arrested, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.
“I am saddened by the violence of which Christians of the Tewahedo Orthodox Church of Ethiopia are victims,” the Pope Francis said in his Angelus address.
“I express my closeness to this beloved church and her patriarch, dear brother Abune Mathias, and I ask you to pray for all the victims of violence in that land.”
Reports says the violence has targeted the Orthodox Christian Community in the region.
Ethiopia Borkena news said hand grenades were thrown into churches in towns like Dodola and Bale Robe.
“I carry a cross in my hand, not a gun. My children, I am tearfully praying to our God about your suffering. I am also continuing to plead with the government,” the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Abune Mathias, said.
“Today I am deeply grieved. I have the urge to weep like a child … In the hopes day to day for improvement, we have been asking the government to put a stop to it. However, we have seen nothing change,” the patriarch said.
Mr Ahmed recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in peace-keeping efforts to end his country’s 20-year conflict with neigbouring Eritrea.
Published by Catholic Herald