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Encyclopedia > Ethiopic Catholic Church

The Ethiopic Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern Rite particular Church within the Roman Catholic Church and uses the Ethiopic liturgical rite. Its membership includes inhabitants of Ethiopia and Eritrea. In hierarchical Christian churches, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop (then more precisely called Metropolitan archbishop) of a metropolis; that is, the chief city of an old Roman province, ecclesiastical province, or regional capital. ... Sui iuris is a Latin phrase that literally means “of one’s own right”. It is usually spelled sui juris in civil law, which uses the phrase to indicate legal competence, the capacity to manage one’s own affairs (Blacks Law Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary). ... The term Eastern Rites may refer to the liturgical rites used by many ancient Christian Churches of Eastern Europe and the Middle East that, while being part of the Roman Catholic Church, are distinct from the Latin Rite or Western Church. ... A Particular Church , in Roman Catholic theology and canon law, is any of the individual constituent ecclesial communities in full communion with the Church of Rome and thus make up the Catholic Communion. ... Catholic Church redirects here. ... // Partial list of Christian liturgies (past and present) Roman Catholic church (churches in communion with the Holy See of the Bishop of Rome) Latin Rite Novus Ordo Missae Tridentine Mass Anglican Use Mozarabic Rite Ambrosian Rite Gallican Rite Eastern Rite, e. ...


The Portuguese voyages of discovery at the end of the fifteenth century opened the way for direct contacts between the Church in Rome and the Church in Ethiopia. Due largely to the behaviour of the Portuguese Alfonso Mendez, whom Pope Urban VIII appointed as Patriarch of Ethiopia in 1622 and who was expelled from the country in 1636, these contacts, which had seemed destined for success, led instead to the complete closure of Ethiopia to further contact with Rome. Urban VIII, né Maffeo Barberini (April 1568 – July 29, 1644) was Pope from 1623 to 1644. ... Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. ... Events February 24 - King Christian of Denmark gives an order that all beggars that are able to work must be sent to Brinholmen Island to build ships or as galley rowers March 26 - Utrecht University founded in The Netherlands. ...

In 1839, Saint Justin De Jacobis arrived in the country as Prefect Apostolic of Ethiopia, in charge therefore of a Latin Rite jurisdiction. He preferred instead to use the Ethiopic liturgical rite. Many Ethiopian priests were attracted to his sanctity and his teaching, thus giving rise to what became in 1930 the Ethiopic Catholic Church, when, in view of its continual growth, an ordinariate for the Ethiopic Rite faithful of Eritrea, entrusted to an Eritrean bishop, was established. Eritrea, an Italian possession since 1894, already had a separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction, headed by an Italian titular bishop, for Latin Rite Catholics, mainly Italians Latin Rite, in the singular and accompanied, in English, by the definite article (The Latin Rite), is a term by which documents of the Catholic Church designate the particular Church, distinct from the Eastern Rite Churches, that developed in western Europe and northern Africa, where Latin was the language of... 1894 (MDCCCXCIV) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...

The Latin Rite had become established in the south of Ethiopia in areas that had not been Christian and that were incorporated into the modern country only at the end of the nineteenth century. The Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1936 gave rise to an increase in the number of Latin Rite jurisdictions, but the expulsion of foreign missionaries at the end of the Second World War meant that the Ethiopic Rite clergy had to take responsibility for larger areas than before. Accordingly, in 1951, the Ethiopic Rite Apostolic Exarchate of Addis Ababa was established, and the ordinariate for Eritrea was elevated to the rank of exarchate. Ten years later, on 9 April 1961, an Ethiopic metropolia (ecclesiastical province) was established, with Addis Ababa as the metropolitan see and Asmara (in Eritrea) and Adigrat (in Ethiopia) as suffragan eparchies. Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... Map of Ethiopia highlighting Addis Ababa (in red). ... April 9 is the 99th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (100th in leap years). ... 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (the link is to a full 1961 calendar). ... Asmara is the capital city and largest settlement in Eritrea, home to a population of around 579,000 people. ... Adigrat is a town in the Tigray region (or kilil) of Ethiopia that As of 1994, it had a population of around 37,417 people. ...

In 1995, two new eparchies, Barentu and Keren, were established in Eritrea, and the Latin Rite apostolic vicariate was abolished. Eritrea thus became the only country where all Catholics, whatever their personal liturgical rite, belong to an Eastern Rite jurisdiction. In 2003, one more eparchy was created in Emdeber in Ethiopia, with the result that the Ethiopic Catholic Metropolitan Church now consists of six sees, three in Ethiopia and three in Eritrea. Barentu is a town in south western Eritrea, lying south of Agordat. ... Keren is the third largest city in Eritrea, lying north west of Asmara, with a population of around 75,000 people. ... The term Eastern Rites may refer to the liturgical rites used by many ancient Christian Churches of Eastern Europe and the Middle East that, while being part of the Roman Catholic Church, are distinct from the Latin Rite or Western Church. ...

Ge'ez, a Semitic language fallen out of daily use several centuries ago, is the liturgical language of the Ethiopic Church, whose liturgy is based on the Coptic. The Geez language (or Giiz language) is an ancient language that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands of the Horn of Africa as the language of the peasantry. ...

There are also Latin-Rite jurisdictions in the south of Ethiopia, none of them raised to the rank of diocese. Five are apostolic vicariates, headed by a titular bishop; two are apostolic prefectures, headed by a priest.

Today, Catholics constitute 0.9% of the population.

See also

This Ethiopian icon shows St. ...


  • Oriente Cattolico (Vatican City: The Sacred Congregation for the Eastern Churches, 1974)
  • Annuario Pontificio.



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