POPE BENEDICT XVI’S BLIND SPOT ON ETHIOPIA – By Kidane Alemayehu

March 18th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

Pope Benedict XVI’s current visit to Africa is one of the clear indications of His Holiness’ interest in issues of human rights and the plight of his flock in developing countries. (more…)

Pope Benedict XVI’s current visit to Africa is one of the clear indications of His Holiness’ interest in issues of human rights and the plight of his flock in developing countries. This is worthy of the highest respect, if only His Holiness could be consistent in the case of Ethiopia which has been awaiting justice for seventy years!

Soon after his election as Pope, nearly four years ago, one of the first tasks Pope Benedict XVI set himself to was to travel back to his home country, Germany, and visit a Jewish synagogue in Cologne where he condemned the Nazi Holocaust as an “unimaginable crime”. While his action is greatly lauded, Pope Benedict XVI has, however, not yet responded to a repeated request for an apology to the Ethiopian people for the Vatican’s complicity with the Italian Fascists who perpetrated war crimes in Ethiopia during 1935-41 when one million Ethiopians, including women and children perished. The Global Alliance for Justice: The Ethiopia Cause, being confident in His Holiness’ sense of justice and fairness, launched a global campaign by issuing an international petition calling on the Vatican to apologize to the Ethiopian people. For more details and direct support, please visit: www.globalallianceforethiopia.org.

It is a historical fact that Fascist Mussolini was able to invade Ethiopia and commit his war crime with the direct support of the Vatican which was then headed by Pope Pius XI who had declared to the world that Mussolini was “a man sent by Providence.” The Vatican was a source of great support to Fascist Italy at the League of Nations which, tragically, gave a free hand for Mussolini to invade Ethiopia which was one of the League’s own members!

In his book, “The Vatican in World Politics”, the renowned scholar, Avro Manhattan states:

“Thus the (Catholic) Church became the religious weapon of the Fascist State; while the Fascist State became the secular arm of the Church.”

With the barbaric use of poison gas which was repeatedly sprayed by numerous Italian warplanes on urban as well rural areas throughout Ethiopia as well as the use of ground forces supported by tanks and other armaments, Fascist Italy committed untold atrocities that resulted in:

(a) the murder of approximately 1 million Ethiopians, including the killing of
30,000 people in Addis Ababa within a few hours, over 400 people at the
famous Debre Libanos monastery, the execution of two
bishops (Abune Petros and Abune Michael) and hundreds of
thousands of innocent people including women and children
throughout Ethiopia.
(b) the destruction of 2000 churches, and 525,000 homes;
(c) the annihilation of 14 million animals; and
(d) the use of extensive poison gas that played havoc to the Ethiopian
environment.

(Source: The Ethio-Italian War, Paulos Gnogno)

When Italy succeeded to occupy Ethiopia, “practically the whole world condemned Mussolini, all except the Pope”. (quoted by Manhattan from Teeling, The Pope in Politics). On May 12, 1936, Pope Pius XI expressed his jubilation by stating:

“The triumphant joy of an entire, great and good people over a place which, it is hoped and intended, will be an effective contribution and prelude to the true place in Europe and the World.”

According to Avro Manhattan, the Pope’s joy was expressed in a more cogent and graphic declaration by the Archbishop of Torano with the following words:

“The war against Ethiopia should be considered as a holy war, a crusade” (as Italian victory would) “open Ethiopia, a country of infidels and schismatics, to the expansion of the Catholic Faith.”

Thanks to the valiant struggle of the Ethiopian patriots and the support of friendly countries, Ethiopia regained its independence but it is still awaiting the appropriate apology and compensation from the Vatican and the Italian Governments.

The Vatican keeps apologizing to the Jewish people, as it should, for the reason that it failed to raise any objections at the time that the Nazis were committing the holocaust crime. In the case of Ethiopia, the Vatican’s involvement with the Fascists was not a mere silence but rather direct and fully complicit. It is, therefore, surprising, to say the least, that the Vatican has yet to express its apology to the Ethiopian people.

Ethiopia deservers to be among the first countries in Pope Benedict XVI’s itinerary on his first visit to Africa: (a) for the purpose of expressing his historic direct apology to the Ethiopian people; (b) due to the facts that Ethiopia is mentioned numerous times in the Bible and that it is one of the earliest countries to accept Christianity; and; (c) the fact that the country has over 40 million Christians.

To conclude, Pope Benedict XVI’s current visit to Africa is a clear indication that His Holiness is according the importance and respect that is due to the continent. Inspired by this basic perspective and filled with hope and confidence, one cannot help raising the question: will Pope Benedict XVI put aside his blind spot on Ethiopia and bring justice to a case that has been outstanding for too long by doing his basic Christian duty of apologizing to the Ethiopian people?

Ethiopia raises it hands unto God (Psalm 68/31).

  1. ye ethiopia
    | #1

    as a member of the catholic church I apologize all the ethiopians and families of the victims. It is very sad to see people who satnds for love brotherhood and justice in the name of faith, failing to stand against injustice.

  2. Jungle Boy
    | #2

    Very good article. We often tend to forget some of the most important parts of our history. We don’t put due emphasis on these issues, to say the least. This article reminded me of the kind of crime that was committed by the Italians on our people. I agree that the pope owes us an apology. The Italian government owes us one too. A formal apology that is.

    FREE Birtukan!

  3. yoseph
    | #3

    the pope is in another war this time around, he is busy convinving africans not to use a condom, another genocide.

  4. Ahmed
    | #4

    This world is made for the strongest, economically & military power. What about the crime Ethioipia is committing on the poor people of Somalia?
    I don’t think any apology is necessairy when you’re the weakest subject, needing an extra help.

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    Dear friend,
    It is obvious that Fascist Mussolini attempted to invade Ethiopia, our mother land. I have been hearing this news a couple of years ago. But I think it has nothing to do with the pope who is the religious leader of 1.2 Billion people. The then Pope you mentioned was himself the victim of Mussoloni at that time. Pope Pius XI is a pope who loves Ethiopia and its culture than the one who orders war on Ethiopia. For this we have evidence. It was this same pope who gave a piece of land in the Vatican, (right in the Vatican Garden) to build a college for Ethiopians. When the Mussoloni soldiers asked for expelling from the Vatican this pope defended them. When all colleges were taken out of Vatican city, it is this Ethiopian College, the only college which exists in the Vatican up to now. This pope loves the Ethiopian Liturgy and even asked for the special prayers of the Ethiopian students, calling them my sons when he was about to die. Please if you are really concerned for Ethiopia and her people, use your talent for other purpose which helps our poor but beautiful country and people. This time we want unity, peace and love with all followers of different religions in Ethiopia. There are many evidences which contradicts your research, Thank you and may God bless Ethiopia.
    Y.M.M.

  6. Aynalem
    | #6

    Please do not demand any kind of appology from the Italian government or the damn Vatican POPE .Let the POPE do his political duty.Don’t you know that the Vatican blessed the sodiers of Mussolini on their way to invade Ethiopia? I hate those belliguered Vatican popes .

  7. Anbassaw
    | #7

    Dear friends,
    I think it is better to be accurate than just commenting from feelings. I read this article of requesting the pope for the direct involvement of the Catholic Church in the the Mussolini war on Ethiopia. The said pope Pius XI if you know his history, he was the pope who loves Ethiopia, her people and culture. Thus this pope gave a piece of land for Ethiopians to build a college in the Vatican, right in the Vatican garden. Even when Mussolinians asked their expulsion from Vatican this pope gave the Ethiopians his protection, to remain in the Vatican. And later when all other colleges including the Italian college were moved from the Vatican the Popes gave the special privileged for Ethiopians to remain there. This pope himself was the victim of Mussolini. When this pope was seriously sick he asked for his beloved Ethiopian students to pray for him. This pope is one of the popes who have done many things for Ethiopia, to gain international recognition. Many of our leaders including his Lordship Emperor Marseillaise, and the present prime minster Meles have paid their tribute to this college.
    I think we better use our talents to build Ethiopia rather than collecting rubbish and minor things which have totally no use for our people and country. Let us make researches on how to unite our people of different faith and culture living in a poor land, but beautiful home country. May God bless Ethiopia,

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    We don’t need him at home

  9. gomida
    | #9

    Ethiopia don,t have to dwell on past henious crime commited by the italian fascists on its people.But What i care is to see its people united and build strong army armed with latest weaponery ready to strik at any enemy treatens its teritory.
    No more fascism or jehad on its people period.

  10. wase
    | #10

    It’s tragic that Y.M.M. tries to defend both Fascist Mussolini as well as Pope Pius XI who collaborated in committing huge war crimes in Ethiopia that resulted in the murder of no less than 1,000,000 innocent Ethiopians.

    Y.M.M. even suggests that Mussolini “attempted to invade Ethiopia…” It is astonishing that Y.M.M. states further that he/she has “…been hearing this news a couple of years ago.” This clearly indicates the very limited extent of Y.M.M.’s knowledge about the inhuman war crimes committed by the Italian Fascists against Ethiopia with the direct support of the Vatican, in particular Pope Pius XI.

    For more details, please visit http://www.globalallianceforethiopia.org.

    What all people who believe in justice, respect for human rights, and the rule of law need to do is to seek, as an absolute minimum, a full and formal apology by the Vatican to the Ethiopian people.

  11. gabriela
    | #11

    are we just crazy we need all the world and the devil to support us for our poltical need? we have to work our self we don’t need outersiders .don’t be stupid be grow! their is otherway to challenge think think to unite to unite …………………………..

  12. gabriela
    | #12

    i think the way we dealing ourselves for each other no doubt we will distroy our country and distroy every thing probably the united nation has to come to govern for a while till they put their pupet the same meles they did now . i think we are heading to that we don’t respect for our country we just fighting and fighting for the power which don’t have yet we dream just a dreamer

  13. zebeaman akale
    | #13

    the Vatican has always been the enemy of Ethiopia and continue to be until Ethiopia change catholic .the Vatican is not only responsible for the wars and every atrocity that was committed during those wars but also for what is happening now and what is going to happen tomorrow and after wards .the Vatican of that time is the same Vatican of today and tomorrow so apology is just a word so Ethiopians do not get fulled

  14. dzvet
    | #14

    Neither the Vatican nor the Italian people nurture any form of hate for Ethiopia. Many Italians and the Vatican care for Ethiopia and its people. If there was anyone to blame for the fascist war, it was Mussolini and his government. If you need money go and work for it instead of sabotaging your own government. Spare us your crocodile tears. We want to be friends with all countries and perhaps most of all with the lovely people of Italy. Just for the record, I lost my grandfather and my great grandfather to the two wars. Perhaps your problem is the lack of understanding of the historical significance of the renaissance, whose birthplace is Florence, Italy. Ethiopia as well as the rest of Africa needs the renaissance. Neglecting history hurts Ethiopia by forcing it into medieval darkness and ignorance. Move on. Times have changed. As a matter of fact, Italy is the largest trade partner of Ethiopia. But then again, what do you care about facts. If you do, read the writing on the wall and stope your bellicose bile from overflowing.

  15. Anbassaw
    | #15

    @dzvet
    I 100% agree with your comment, I think we need to work hard ourselves than coveting others’ property or transmitting hatred. Look at our country itself, how religions have spread in 18th and 19th century in Southern part of the country. Read history according to its context. Don’t look at it from the light of today. We have been hearing so many times what the present Italian government and the Catholic Church are doing for our country. Do you know how many lives the same church had been saving in Ethiopia, when ever there is calamity like flood in Dire Dawa, and Southern State? For details ask those people at home country.
    Let go out for work…

  16. ye ethiopia
    | #16

    zebeaman akale it seems that u have a big hatred in ur heart for the catholic church. it is very funny to read what u are trying to accuse the catholic church for all the wars even what is going to happen in the future. This statement of urs is enough to see how far u can think. Try to think a little bit further than your nose. The catholic church is not an enemy to our people. She is doing a lot of social activities in ethiopia. The Catholic church is the only religion in ethiopia who condemns the masacre of woyane. before accusing the church as the enemy of the country ask urslef what do I do for my country?

  17. dzvet
    | #17

    @Anbassaw
    It is unfortunate to keep reminding people the obvious facts of life.

    1. Hatred is a highway that leads nowhere.

    2. Hatred feeds upon itself.

  18. Anbassaw
    | #18

    dzvet :
    @Anbassaw
    It is unfortunate to keep reminding people the obvious facts of life.
    1. Hatred is a highway that leads nowhere.
    2. Hatred feeds upon itself.

    Let us preach Hope, Love, mutual co-existence, Forgiveness. Let us motivate our people to stand up and fight war against Poverty, Hunger, Illiteracy, Hatred, unjust Leadership, violation of human right. These are our real enemies for centuries. Let us all try to be a good example than becoming a light under a tub.

  19. ዘተዋሕዶ
    | #19

    Ethiopians are a very poor people, which is why no one really cares about us.
    Anyway, the Pope should apologize for the Vatican’s support of Fascist Italy’s aggression against Ethiopia and for the Jesuit onslaught against the Tewahedo Church.

  20. alex
    | #20

    Look at weyane’s rats
    vedio. must see.
    http://abbaymedia.com/News/?p=2268

    support our freedom fighters.
    http://www.eppfonline.org/

  21. borko
    | #21

    tdzve…you said you born here there, nobody cares.
    what ethiopian people are saying is the vatican at some point and time had been colaboratorted with Italy fascists. who commited murders
    using poison gas which was banned By all nations durring that time. He did apologize for Israel government for the sin they commited. So, why is so hard for the pope to apologize to Ethiopia?

  22. damtew
    | #22

    @dzvet
    tdzve…you said you born here there, nobody cares.
    what ethiopian people are saying is the vatican at some point and time had been colaboratorted with Italy fascists. who commited murders
    using poison gas which was banned By all nations durring that time. He did apologize for Israel government for the sin they commited. So, why is so hard for the pope to apologize to Ethiopia?

  23. dzvet
    | #23

    @damtew
    You don’t get it. Do you? The Vatican did not plan or execute the war. It was il Duce Mussolini !!! You might as well ask the bus company in your town to apologize for the war. The Pope and the Vatican as well as the Italian people at large are just as much innocent bystanders. Nobody likes poison gas or war. People died in the war, which might come as a surprise to you. What did you expect? A birthday party? Yes, I was born and bred in Ethiopia and I belong to the Orthodox faith. Nevertheless, I fail to see what you intend to achieve by nursing hatred to Italy and the Vatican. It may sound like a crime to you, but I like Italians. Nice people and intelligent too. More Ethiopians have died of malaria, poor hygiene, dirty water, famine, ignorance, war and maladministration than those who died in that war. Let us pull our act together before pointing fingers at the Pope and Italy. The Vatican does not owe you a living. Get a life and work for it honestly. Meanwhile, God bless you and give you the strength to work.

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