2002.12.05 IRINnews Africa:
ERITREA: Orthodox church anoints second patriarch
IRINnews Africa, Thu 5 Dec 2002
ASMARA, - By unanimous vote of its holy synod, the Eritrean Orthodox Church
has anointed Abune Yacob as its second patriarch.
Yacob's coronation as patriarch comes two and a half months after the death
of the first patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Filipos. He
died at the age of 102 of natural causes following a brief illness in
Filipos was widely regarded as the spiritual father of the country, and was
highly respected for his outspoken criticism of Italian, British, and
Ethiopian control of Eritrea prior to its independence.
With his coronation as patriarch, 76-year old Yacob is now the spiritual
leader of more than a million Eritrean Orthodox Christians, who constitute
slightly less than half of this tiny Horn of Africa nation's 3.5 million
Eritrea is divided roughly equally between Muslims and Christians. The vast
majority of Christians in the country follow the Orthodox Church.
The Eritrean Orthodox Church split from its Ethiopian counterpart after
Eritrea declared independence in May 1993.