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Christian Family Takes Refuge in Mountains after Expulsion from their Home in Mexico

Pastor Mario Choj visits Pérez family in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

“To follow Christ is beautiful. It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

(Morning Star News) – Miguel Pérez Díaz, his eight children and 87-year-old father have been living in a mountainside shack since May, when local officials expelled them from their village in Chiapas state, Mexico.

Relatives, friends and neighbors in Tajlovijho, a village in the municipality of San Andrés Larráinzar in southern Mexico, had been harassing them for leaving indigenous religious practices for Christianity, sources said.

“The first action they took against them was to cut their potable water service,” pastor Mario Choj told Morning Star News. “Then they made them leave the humble home they owned.”

Leaving the “traditionalist” blend of Roman Catholic and indigenous rituals and beliefs, the Pérez family put their faith in Christ four years ago and began a small fellowship in their home, said Pastor Choj, who leads an Assemblies of God Church called Jesús Es el Camino.

The family loaded the few belongings their neighbors allowed them to take and headed up the mountains to a village called Mitontic, where they survive by collecting the morning dew from a nylon sheet and rain water that falls from the metal roof of the shanty they built, the pastor said. They store the water in empty soda bottles and other containers.

Shack where the Pérez family has taken refuge in Mitontic, Chiapas, Mexico. (Morning Star News photo courtesy of Federico Sarao)

Despite taking refuge far from their home, they are obligated to pay Tajlovijho officials 500 pesos (US$26) each month to keep authorities from taking possession of their house and remaining belongings, sources said.

Pastor Choj said Pérez told him the family is ready to suffer for Christ.

“To follow Christ is beautiful,” Pérez said, according to the pastor. “It doesn’t matter if we have to live in suffering, persecution and contempt from our village. Everyone in the family says that to live close to God is a blessing, and we delight in the salvation found only in Jesus Christ.”

Their case is one of thousands in which indigenous Mexican families that have been driven from their homes and lost all their belongings “only because they have accepted that Jesus is the only hope that we Mexicans have to be free of sin and eternal punishment,” Pastor Choj said.

The “traditionalist” religious mix practiced by the area’s predominantly ethnic Tzotzil, who are of Mayan origin, includes drunken festivals honoring pagan idols that evangelical Christians eschew. In a misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” law designed to protect indigenous culture, local caciques (political “bosses”) cite local regulations requiring villagers to contribute fees toward and participate in the festivals.

Christian attorneys note that this misuse of Mexico’s “Uses and Customs” laws violates the guarantee of religious freedom in Article 24 of Mexico’s constitution.

Similar cases of persecution have happened in Oaxaca, Durango and other states outside of Chiapas. In July residents of Huejutla, Hidalgo state, cut water service to two Christian families for refusing to participate in “Catholic festivals of the community,” according to online outlet Animal Político.

Denying any religious motive, officials with the Ministry of Interior blamed the two evangelical families “because they did not fulfill their duties” to villagers and did not “participate in their ‘uses and customs,’” the news cite reported.

In Chiapas, Pérez and his family, including wife Guadalupe Hernández and father Miguel Pérez Núñez, came to faith in Christ after reading an evangelistic pamphlet printed and distributed by Cruzada Mexican, a ministry also known as Every Home for Christ-México, Pastor Choj said. Volunteers leave the pamphlets, New Testaments and other Christian literature, some of them translated into indigenous languages, at area Protestant churches.

“The Pérez family previously lived happy and faithful, but they did not know what trials were coming to their peaceful life,” Pastor Choj said. “But they pray that more Christians would spread the Word of God, as many still need to know the love that is available only from Jesus Christ. They also pray for all the families expelled from their own houses and lands.”

Mexico ranks 39th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

One Pastor Killed, Another Kidnapped in Separate Attacks in North-Central Nigeria

 

Photo of Rev. Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the city of Kaduna, Nigeria, was killed and his wife kidnapped on Aug. 4, 2019. (Morning Star News via Living Faith Church)

No relief for Nigerian Christians subjected to continuous Muslim Fulani brutality.

(Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed a Pentecostal pastor and abducted a Baptist pastor in a spate of kidnappings this month in Kaduna state, Nigeria, sources said.

“The herdsmen, about 20 of them, shot into our house and broke the doors of the house,” said Emmanuel Noma, who along with his father, 60-year-old pastor Elisha Noma, was kidnapped at 1 a.m. on Aug. 14. “They forced us out of the house at gunpoint and took us away. After two hours they released me, with the demand that I should go and raise 20 million naira [US$55,155] for them before they will release my father or else he would be killed.”

The Rev. Joseph Hayap, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the kidnapping of Pastor Noma, of Nagarta Baptist Church in Makiri, Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria. Pastor Hayap said the kidnappers have reduced their ransom demand from the original 20 million naira.

“The kidnapping herdsmen are now asking for 7 million naira [US$19,304], but we are still negotiating,” said Pastor Hayap, a Baptist.

Two weeks earlier, Fulani herdsmen killed pastor Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the Romi New Extension area of the city of Kaduna and kidnapped his wife, a church source told Morning Star News. Attacked on Aug. 4 along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on their way to Abuja, he was killed when the herdsmen shot at their car after the pastor finished leading three services at his church, the source said.

Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released after the church paid 3 million naira (US$8,273) to the herdsmen as ransom, the source said. A press statement from the church reported that the ransom was paid after negotiations with the herdsmen brought the amount down from 10 million naira (US$27,577). She was released on the Aug. 8 at about 10 p.m.

Kaduna State CAN Chairman Hayap told Morning Star News that she was recovered along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

“When she was with the kidnappers, she didn’t know that her husband had died,” Pastor Hayap said.

The day she was released, another group of herdsmen attacked a Roman Catholic parish in Kasuwan Magani, a town south of the city of Kaduna. A security guard was killed as the parish priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church, the Rev. Joseph Kato Kwassau, escaped.

About 20 armed herdsmen arrived at the premises in a mini-van, according to a church press statement.

“They were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons,” it read.

Kwassau told Morning Star News by phone that the attack took place at about midnight, when only he and the church guard were in their living quarters on the premises.

500 Kidnapped

Kidnapping is rampant in Nigeria. Hayap said more than 500 Christians have been kidnapped in Kaduna state in the past four years. Churches have paid about 300 million Naira (US$827,321) to Muslim Fulani Herdsmen to ransom them, he said.

“We as the church, the body of Christ, have found ourselves in a very bad situation in Kaduna state,” he said. “Pastors and church members are being kidnapped, and huge sums of money are being demanded, and nothing has been done by Nigeria government to halt the situation.”

Hayap appealed to the Nigerian government to urgently take measures to bring to an end to attacks on Christians and churches in Kaduna state and across the country.

Kwassau of St. Luke’s, who is also a dean of Rimau Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, said that the Christian community at Kasuwan Magani has been under attack from herdsmen and local Muslims for some time. Hayap concurred that Christians in Kasuwan Magani have been attacked various times by herdsmen.

“As I speak to you, a daughter of a Baptist pastor in the area of Kasuwan Magani is under the captivity of the herdsmen,” Hayap said. “So we are really concerned that Christians and their pastors in Kaduna State are no longer safe.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Please keep our Nigerian brothers and sisters in your prayers.

After Killing of Clergyman, Priest Narrowly Escapes Death in Southeastern Nigeria

City of Enugu, in southwest Nigeria. (Wikipedia, Martin Kudr)

“I am sad – what manner of country is this?” A country where some people are untouchables. A country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attacks against Christians in the country. These senseless killings of innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye.”

(Morning Star News) – Following the killing of a Roman Catholic priest and a parishioner in southeastern Nigeria earlier this month, another clergyman on Thursday (Aug. 15) narrowly escaped an attack by Muslim Fulani herdsmen about 40 miles away, sources said.

Armed Fulani herdsmen on Aug. 1 killed the Rev. Paul Offu in Awgu town, south of Enugu city in Enugu state, as he was returning to his church site after a visit to other congregations he was overseeing, according to Enugu Diocese officials. The herdsmen shot his car as he drove along Ihe-Agbudu Road, forcing it to a halt, and then dragged him out and shot him to death, diocese spokesman Emmanuel Nkemjika Igwesihi said in a press statement.

The herdsmen took parishioner Kenneth Igwe in the ambush. Police found his corpse on Aug. 5, according to Igwesihi.

“The Rev. Fr. Paul Offu was shot dead by some Fulani herdsmen who took him into the bush around 2 p.m.,” the Rev. Ben Achi, director of communications for the diocese told Morning Star News by phone. “He was accosted by the herdsmen and was shot dead.”

About 69 kilometers (42 miles) north, herdsmen on Thursday (Aug. 15) ambushed another Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Chimezie Ani, near Caritas University, a Catholic university in Amorji-Nike, as he drove toward Ugwuomu, the priest told Morning Star News.

“I was driving when suddenly the herdsmen, who were armed, shot at my vehicle, aiming at the windshield,” Ani told Morning Star News. “I immediately on noticing them stopped the car and drove in reverse. The bullets from them broke my windshield and riddled the car all over. I miraculously escaped unhurt. They retreated into the bushes after realizing I escaped from them.”

He said Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian commuters along that highway “for some time now.”

“I’m sure they were herdsmen,” Ani said.

Achi of the Enugu diocese confirmed the Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 attacks.

“The incident [Aug. 15] happened along Ugwuomu Road as you heard,” Achi said. “We are very grateful to God that he was not harmed, as he was able to navigate on reverse to a safe distance.”

Following the Aug. 1 killing of Offu, more than 200 Catholic priests took to the streets in the city of Enugu, the state capital, in protest on Aug. 2. They marched peacefully to the State House to present a letter to the governor expressing their displeasure over growing Fulani herdsmen attacks on Christians.

Afterwards the Rev. Callistus Onaga, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, told reporters of his sadness over the inability of the government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim Fulani, to end herdsmen attacks across the country. Christians in the state have come under a series of attacks over the past seven years, adversely affecting area Catholic churches, Onaga said.

“I am sorrowful and utterly disappointed on the security in the state,” he told a press conference.

Another priest, the Rev. Clement Ugwu, of St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno, in Ezeagu County of the state, was kidnapped and killed in March, and herdsmen shot another priest in late July, Onaga said.

“We were shocked to see a priest that joined in our meeting yesterday afternoon in this bishop’s house very healthy and sound being reported to have died. The priest shot by the herdsmen two weeks back is still receiving intensive medical attention as we speak,” Onaga said. “Why we get worried when our priests are attacked is that it shows the level of insecurity other Nigerians face daily. Our priests are very much respected and honored by our parishioners and the people, so if these things can happen to them, what happens to the flock, the people they shepherd?”

Priests in various parts of the state were kidnapped from 2013 to 2016, he said.

“Only in 2017 were we given some breathing space,” Onaga said. “It continued in 2018 and this year, 2019; it is worse as we have suffered the death of a priest in March this year, and now another issue. All we demand is that if there are crop of bad herdsmen in the state, they should be fished out, and we will continue to live in peace with the good ones.”

Also on Aug. 2, the Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, bishop of Awka Diocese, in southeastern Nigeria’s Anambra state, told reporters of his concern over the tepid response of the Nigerian government to violence carried out by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Addressing journalists at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, he said the government lacks political will to curtail attacks against Christians.

“I am sad – what manner of country is this?” Ezeokafor said. “A country where some people are untouchables. A country where some people will be killing innocent citizens. What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attacks against Christians in the country.

“These senseless killings of innocent Nigerians are becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying a particular agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye.”

Police confirmed the attacks on the priests and reported arrests of some of the attackers.

Police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement on Friday (Aug. 16) that officers were investigating the attacks on the priests.

“Crack detectives from the Intelligence Response Unit, the Forensic and Homicide sections of the Force Criminal Investigation Department have been deployed to Enugu state,” he said. “The deployment is to complement the Enugu Command of the Force in their investigations into the unfortunate incident.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

The Extinction of Christians in the Middle East

  • “I don’t believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights. But in Western countries, there are animal rights. In Australia they take care of frogs…. Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.
  • “Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them. We are the original people in this land. We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don’t wake up.” — Metropolitan Nicodemus.
  • “Threats to pandas cause more emotion” than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.

By Giulio Meotti (Gatestone Institute) Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the “choice” the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq’s third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word “Nasrani” (“Nazarene,” or “Christian”) . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in “cleansing” the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had “Christmas celebrations without Christians“.

This cultural genocide, thanks to the indifference of Europeans and many Western Christians more worried about not appearing “Islamophobic” than defending their own brothers, sadly worked. Father Ragheed Ganni, for instance, a Catholic priest from Mosul, had just finished celebrating mass in his church when Islamists killed him. In one of his last letters, Ganni wrote: “We are on the verge of collapse”. That was in 2007 — almost ten years before ISIS eradicated the Christians of Mosul. “Has the world ‘looked the other way’ while Christians are killed?” the Washington Post asked. Definitely.

Traces of a lost Jewish past have also resurfaced in Mosul, where a Jewish community had also lived for thousands of years. Now, 2,000 years later, both Judaism and Christianity have effectively been annihilated there. That life is over. The newspaper La Vie collected the testimony of a Christian, Yousef (the name has been changed), who fled in the night of August 6, 2014, just before ISIS arrived. “It was a real exodus”, Yousef said.

“The road was black with people, I did not see either the beginning or the end of this procession. There were children were crying, families dragging small suitcases. Old men were on the shoulders of their sons. People were thirsty, it was very hot. We have lost all that we have built for life and nobody fought for us”.

Some communities, such as the tiny Christian pockets in Mosul, are almost certainly lost forever”, wrote two American scholars in Foreign Policy.

“We are on the precipice of catastrophe, and unless we act soon, within weeks, the tiny remnants of Christian communities in Iraq may be mostly eradicated by the genocide being committed against Christians in Iraq and Syria”.

In Mosul alone, 45 churches were vandalized or destroyed. Not a single one was spared. Today there is only one church open in the city. ISIS apparently also wanted to destroy Christian history there. They targeted the monastery of Saints Behnam and Sarah, founded in the fourth century. The monastery had survived the seventh century Islamic conquest and subsequent invasions, but in 2017, crosses were destroyed, cells were looted, and statues of the Virgin Mary were beheaded. The Iraqi priest, Najeeb Michaeel, who saved 850 manuscripts from the Islamic State, was ordained last January as the new Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul….continue reading this article here

Christian villages bombed and evacuated

ERBIL, KURDISTAN (ANS) — Around 10 Christian villages in the northern Kurdistan Region have been evacuated due to frequent and increasing Turkish bombings targeting apparent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions.

Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports Rudaw TV www.rudaw.net visited Christian villages in the Kani Masi District, where some homes are locked up and abandoned. There are 25 such villages in the district, including 10 or so evacuated ones, according to district officials. One local told Rudaw the PKK should leave the area.

“PKK better to go back to Turkey, and fight against the Turkish army inside Turkey, and leave Kurdistan region for peace,” said Shlimon Aseel from the village of Duri, where 15 of the 40 homes have been evacuated.

AINA said the PKK is a Kurdish militant group that has fought the Turkish state for decades for greater autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist group and regularly strikes apparent targets of the group in the Kurdistan Region. The PKK is based in the Qandil mountains along the Turkey-Iraq border.

PKK fighters are present in the areas around the city of Amedi where Kani Masi is. The area is in the Duhok Province amd close to the Turkish border. Most Christians in the there identify as ethnic Assyrians.

Sarbast Sabri, the head of Kani Masi District, says the Turkish airstrikes hit the district on a daily basis, and negatively impact the lives of civilians.

“Civilians in the area are living in continuous panic, due to the Turkish bombardments and PKK movements in the areas of Kani Masi,” he told Rudaw.

Civilians are frequently caught in the crossfire between Turkey and the PKK, and people empty the villages to escape the fighting.

According to AINA, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has repeatedly asked PKK fighters to stay away from populated areas and villages. Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has also voiced concerns to Turkey over civilian deaths resulting from Turkey’s airstrikes.

Baghdad has likewise called on Turkey to end its attacks, while simultaneously demanding the PKK leave their territories.

Turkey launched Operation claw in late May to drive the PKK away from its border with the Kurdistan Region.

On June 27, Turkish airstrikes resulted in the deaths of at least four Kurdish civilians near the village of Kurtak at the foot of the Qandil Mountains, where the PKK is headquartered.

There was a short-lived peace process between Turkey and the PKK which ended in failure in July 2015. Since then, at least 4,397 people, including Turkish security forces, PKK fighters, and civilians have been killed, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

176 children lost one or both parents in Sri Lanka Easter bombings

(World Watch Monitor) At least 176 children lost either one or both of their parents in the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings, according to the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

Just over three months ago, at St. Anthony’s Shrine in the country’s capital saw a powerful explosion rip apart the bodies of worshippers. The shrine has already been rebuilt, but its congregation could not hold back their tears as they met for a packed Sunday service on the three month anniversary, July 21 – although not all survivors were yet emotionally ready to return to the parish.

Of the more than 250 people who died in the bombings in three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, 54 were from St. Anthony’s, announced the priest, Fr. Jude Fernando during the service, as armed military personnel guarded the church and frisked all visitors. At least 106 worshippers were wounded in the explosion, he added.

Riswani, a mother of two and a convert from Islam, still cannot hear in one ear, which was wounded in the bombing. She was attending Easter service with her seven-month-old daughter, Athara. When her husband, Michel Thass, arrived – delayed as their five-year-old son wanted to sleep for longer – he found his wife lying on the floor, covered with pieces of flesh and blood from other victims. Baby Athara was found lying at a distance, her intestines hanging out of her stomach.

Athara, who’s had to undergo three surgeries, has recovered, but her mother is still in a state of shock, Thass told Vishal Arora in this film for World Watch Monitor.

Like Athara, dozens of children were seriously injured, and dozens of others died.

Islamist extremists bombed three churches, including St. Sebastian’s in Negombo (outside Colombo, close to the international airport) and the evangelical Zion Church in the city of Batticaloa in the Eastern Province, several hundred miles from the capital.

On July 21, St. Sebastian’s held their first service since the terror attacks.

In Batticaloa, some injured victims remain hospitalised, some still unaware that their children or spouses have succumbed to injuries, Raghu Balachandran from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka said.

Helping victims and survivors deal with their emotional trauma is the biggest need at the moment, but there are few Christian counsellors available, he added.

Nigerian Church Leader Calls for Gov’t Protection After Gunmen Kill Pastor, Abduct His Wife

(CBN) A Nigerian pastor was reportedly killed and his wife abducted for ransom by unknown assailants Sunday evening while traveling on a highway where being attacked by criminals has become a common occurrence.

The Punch reported Jeremiah Omolara, the pastor of Living Faith Church in Romi New Extension, a suburb of Kaduna state, was shot and killed when the attackers ambushed his vehicle on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

In addition to Omolara’s wife, the couple’s son was also in the vehicle. He was able to escape, according to news reports.

The assailants are demanding a ransom in the amount of more than $138,000 for the pastor’s wife.

Omolara’s murder and his wife’s abduction were confirmed by Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Hayab urged the Nigerian government to tighten security in the state, according to to the Daily Post Nigeria.

He also told of how kidnappings in the Kaduna are on the rise, especially the abduction of clergy.

“Just last week a clergyman was attacked in Kasuwan Magani,” Hayab explained. “The security man was killed immediately as they struggled to find their way into the house. Thank God, the gunmen could not gain entrance into the room.”

He also added the daughter of a Baptist pastor was recently abducted and the kidnappers are demanding a huge ransom.

“Now the Living Faith Church pastor was killed along Kaduna-Abuja in the presence of his wife, who was later abducted,” Hayab told the newspaper. “That tells you that the new trend is to attack us in our homes or in our churches or on the roads. We are just not safe anywhere and we are asking the same question we have been asking: ‘Where are our security agencies?'”

“Are we being told tactically that we should defend ourselves?” he continued.

Nigerians at risk are often told by authorities to become vigilantes and protect their own villages.

“If we start defending ourselves, it means that we no longer have security or we no longer have government. Or is this government only for those they love and they don’t care about others?”

“We don’t want a situation where we will be forced to think of how to protect ourselves, we believe that government is there to protect us,” Hayab concluded.

As CBN News has reported, hundreds of Christians have been killed in Nigeria by radical Islamic militias, including the Fulani herdsmen.

“Nigeria is now the deadliest place in the world to be a Christian,” explained attorney Emmanuel Ogebe. “What we have is a genocide. They are trying to displace the Christians, they are trying to possess their land and they are trying to impose their religion on the so-called infidels and pagans who they consider Christians to be.”

 

Eritrea: Orthodox Patriarch Antonios expelled for ‘heresy’

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Patriarch Abune Antonios was removed by the Asmara government and placed under house arrest in 2007 after he refused to comply with the regime’s attempts to interfere with church affairs. The event led to a schism in the EOC with a pro-government group supporting a new government-approved replacement who was not recognised by the Papacy in Egypt who installed the patriarch and his predecessors, as reported by ICN.

Following international pressure Antonios made a first public appearance in 2017 as he participated in a mass which rights called a “marketing exercise” by the government.

He remained under house arrest but in April filmed a video that was broadcast in which he reportedly talked about his circumstances and criticised the fact the Church was being led by a layman. The patriarch, who is suffering from health problems, allegedly also said his fellow clergy did not care for his wellbeing. He is currently staying in servant’s quarters of the house owned by the pro-government Bishop Lukas, who himself has ambitions to become the next patriarch, said ICN.

Apparently referring to the video, the pro-government bishops said in a letter explaining their decision to expel the church’s legitimate leader, it was ‘recent activities’ by Abune Antonios that had raised questions about the sincerity of his repentance and that they were concerned about the growing risk of heresy in the church. They did, however, say they would continue to provide the patriarch with food and a place to stay.

In May, a monitoring group for the UN said “thousands” of Christians are facing detention as “religious freedom continue[s] to be denied in Eritrea” and questioned why the UN was not monitoring the situation more closely.

Eritrea is 7th on Open Doors International’s 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

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