Christian leader and World Council of Churches president Abune Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, passed away on Thursday 16 August, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Patriarch Abune Paulos was admired around the world for his work on HIV/AIDS, interfaith dialogue and the protection of refugees.
The patriarch has been seriously ill and was 76 years old.
WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed deep sorrow over the patriarch’s death. He remembered Abune Paulos’s life and works, calling his contributions to the ecumenical movement “most significant”.
“His Holiness Abune Paulos’s role in promoting interfaith dialogue in Ethiopia, his home country, and beyond is a continuing legacy for the churches. Through his work he highlighted the concerns of women and youth, especially in regard to HIV andAIDS,” said Dr Tveit.
He continued: “As a global fellowship of churches, we celebrate His Holiness’s great commitment to the ecumenical movement and his consistent efforts for Christian ministry, especially in supporting the marginalised.”
“Let us keep the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and its leadership in our prayers and support them in this time of loss, mourning and transition,” added Dr Tveit.
Abune Paulos led the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, with more than 40 million members, as well as serving on the WCC Central Committee and the Commission on Faith and Order.
While he was instrumental in interfaith dialogue initiatives, Abune Paulos was vocal in several international platforms, including the World Economic Forum and the World Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations.
In recognition of his outstanding work for the welfare of refugees, in 2000 he was awarded the Nansen Medal for Africa by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This year, he was also honoured by the Vision for Generations for his 20 years of leadership in the campaign to address HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia.