To answer your questions, you can't pray to persons who are not canonized by the Church publicly or in private.
I don't mean to question Gebre's priest's advice or that Gebre shouldn't abide to it but is this sentiment shared by other Ethiopian OOs or other OO churches?
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I attend a rather "radical" parish that has made quite a few waves over the past decades, but we do remain staunchly Orthodox and if I do say so, rather conservative aside from some things. The Rastafari community has been well embraced in my parish, the Member (abbot) is a delightful elder who is well connected with the Imperial Era clergy of ranking priests and Bishops, and the other priests are ridiculously friendly and inviting to the Rastafari people. The main priest and I have had very many deep and long discussions about various issues both in Orthodox and also in Rastafari. He taught me about the Tewahedo, and I taught him about Rastafari people.
While the clergy and the laity are quite receptive to Rastafari people, nonetheless, on a few occasions the priests have confronted me regarding the Emperor. Kesis understood the dread lifestyle in accordance with the Nazarites, and in fact often explained to the rather confused elderly ladies that my shocking appearance was indeed biblical founded and acceptable in our worship. However in regards to the Emperor, he has taken the opportunity on several occasions to attempt to correct me. Once, while wearing our trademark HIM Haile Selassie pins on my chest (a badge of Rastafari people) he stopped me in the hall, very concerned and said, "You know that He is not a canonized Saint within our Church?"
I replied, "yes, but I couldn't help it, HIM wanted to come to Church with me today, as HIM loves it so!" Further, I said, is it not appropriate to commemorate great men of the Church and to remember our forefathers with promise, regardless of their Sainthood? He agreed and let it go, but still had a bit of a chip on his shoulder because God gave me the authority over him, and not the other way around. I humbly submit to all the words of the priest, if they are fitting with the heartical movements of the Holy Spirit.
I did not tell anyone in the Church to worship or venerate HIM as a Saint, rather I was just wearing the pin to remind people HIM history and presence, and many people often start delightful conversations about their experience with the Emperor for me. The other day my good friend, a sistren about my mom's age, regailed me with stories of packing lunch for her father who was HIM personal security guard in the Imperial Guard, and that she wrapped it in a special handkerchief with a treat just for the Emperor, and that Janhoy always told her father he appreciated that extra touch! Another elder told me about when he met HIM in 1961 when the elder was a soccer player on the Ethiopia World Cup team, and Janhoy gave him a dollar. He never forgot that day or shaking HIM hand, or the smile in HIM eyes upon their meeting, and me wearing that pin with a picture of Janhoy caused such a stir of reminiscing, how could I NOT wear it there?
In other words, yes, many and most clergy, while quite friendly and receptive to Rastafari people, are in fact at times quite hostile to the beliefs and perspectives of ini Rastafari people..
A big issue is cannabis consumption. Remember that there are several EOTC parishes in Rastafari ONLY communities in Trinidad and JA (my friend at church, his cousin is the Bishop of Trinidad!) where there are no Ethiopians, just Rastafari, and we got a lot of issues. Rastafari keep breaking the rules and smoking herb behind the gates, as after all this is quite common in Rastafari mansions, where as SMOKING of ANY KIND is a severe taboo behind the gates. Its cool to smoke outside the gates, but NEVER within, no spitting either, and even at times no eating or drinking! The compound within the gates is sacred because of the Tabot (altar slab) and so we must never disraspect it, and many Rastafari parishioners in the islands have caused quite a controversy, They even have EOTC ecumenical meetings to discuss the various Rastafari issues within the EOTC including Emperor worship, cannabis culture,dreadlocks and our often radical politics!