Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa and president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church, has been named president of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Ethiopia. He was appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 21, 2019.
Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, a member of the Congregation of the Mission, was ordained a priest on July 4, 1976, at the age of twenty-seven. After his ordination, he asked to be sent as a missionary to the southwestern part of his country: he carried out his pastoral ministry first in Dembidollo and Wallega, between 1976 and 1977, and later in Bonga and Kaffa, until 1979. In June 1979 he was imprisoned for seven months, during a military persecution of the clerics by the communist government of the Ethiopian dictator Menghistu Hailè Mariàm, who killed many thousands of his opponents, imprisoned people for religious reasons and confiscated their properties. After his liberation, in 1981, he decided to complete his studies in Rome, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained a doctorate in Sociology. During his stay in the Italian capital he was elected as a delegate to the General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission.
A well received appointment
The election of Cardinal Souraphiel has been positively welcomed, by both members of the various political entities as well as by the various religious leaders. The Commission was born out of the experiences in South Africa and Rwanda, countries that were ravaged by decades of apartheid and civil strife.