A high-powered Ethiopian Catholic Church delegation met with the African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Nkozasana Zuma to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relationships. The delegation was led by Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, C.M, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa who is also President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia as well as AMECEA Chairman. AMECEA is an acronym for Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa.
During the meeting with Dr. Nkozasana Zuma, Cardinal Berhaneyesus suggested to her that it would be a great opportunity if the African Union would invite the Holy Father to speak during its one of its plenary sessions.
Other topics discussed between the AU Chairperson and the Cardinal included the upcoming 19th AMECEA Plenary Assembly to be hosted by Ethiopia in 2018. “High Catholic Church representatives from Eastern Africa region and also other parts of the world will be participating in the AMECEA Plenary, ”The Chairperson of the Ethiopian Preparatory committee Ambassador Dr. Berhane Gebray briefed Dr. Zuma. He also outlined what hosting the AMECEA assembly would mean for the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and the nation as a whole. Ambassador Dr. Gebray also made some suggestions to Dr. Zuma as to how AUC could collaborate with the Catholic Church in the preparations.
Dr. Zuma for her part said that it would be an honour to invite the Holy Father Pope Francis to the African Union, “it is a task that we must work on together with the Catholic Church in Ethiopia and the Government of Ethiopia.” She also expressed the AUC’s desire to engage in the AMECEA plenary assembly and in the preparations. A task force would be established to assess the AUC’s assistance to the AMECEA plenary.
The Catholic community working in the AUC regularly meets in a Chapel within the premises of the Commission for prayers. Appointment of a permanent chaplain for the community was also agreed upon during the meeting.
The Catholic Church also took the opportunity to brief the AUC about the contribution of the Church in the development efforts of Ethiopia. This is the first official meeting Cardinal Berhaneyesus has held with the African Union Commission since he was elevated to the Cardinalate on 14 February 2015.
(Makeda Yohannes in Addis Ababa, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia)
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