Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Greetings to the forum, I hope my somewhat off topic question here is within the forum rules. My apologies if it is not.

For some time I’ve been running a blog that runs photographs of churches I take as I travel about called Churches of the West. Generally, I try to categorize the church photos as I take them.

Yesterday, I took a photo of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Denver. I’ve previously taken a photo of Denver’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral, but I have no idea what the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is. Is it in the general Orthodox family of churches. What’s its relationship with Rome? I haven’t put the photo up yet, and I thought I’d try to be slightly informed before I do.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (‘Tewahedo’ is a word in the liturgical language of the Church, Ge’ez, meaning “being made one” or “united”; it is related, for instance, to the Arabic word ‘tawhid’, meaning ‘monotheism’) is one of the non-Chalcedonian or “Oriental Orthodox” churches. It is not in communion with Rome or the “Eastern Orthodox” churches, as they both accepted the Christological definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), while the Ethiopians and the other churches of the Oriental Orthodox communion (Coptic, Syriac, Malankara, Armenian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, plus the recently established British Orthodox Church and French Coptic Orthodox Church, both under the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate) did not.

What a nice blog!

Just wanted you to know that I’ve browsed it, am impressed, and have added it to my faves list on blogspot. Keep those lovely (and funny and weird) pics coming. Love it!

Thank you very much!

Thank you for the explanation. I think I understand it now.

From a Catholic prospective, would this mean that we would regard its sacraments as valid, as we the Eastern Orthodox as having valid sacraments?

Who is the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church?

In searching this question, I see where it’s been extensively discussed here before. I’m sorry for re-plowing the same old ground, as if I’d searched, I would have found the answers to my questions.

By way of a thin excuse, I’d just never run across an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in my part of the country before, so I made the poor assumption that the topic would be little discussed.

As a piece of interesting trivia the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has the largest Biblical canon of all Churches and includes books in it’s canon of scriptures not use in any other apostolic Churches. It also venerates Pontius Pilate as a saint, some other Churches venerate his wife Claudia Procula though.

Is the Ethiopian Catholic Church an Eastern Rite Catholic church that’s similar in terms of practices to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church? I’m aware of its existence and my basic presumption is that as contact between Ethiopia and the West became more practical in recent centuries there was a reunification between some in the Ethiopian Church and Rome, with the Ethiopian Catholic Church then becoming its own church within the Catholic church.

Yes and yes. I wouldn’t refer to it as an “Eastern Rite” Catholic Church though as if there were a single Eastern Rite. The Ethiopic/Ge’ez Rite used by the Ethiopian Orthodox and Catholic Churches is quite distinct from the Byzantine Rite (what we normally mean when we say “Eastern”) or the Syriac Rite or any other Eastern/ Oriental Rite.


The sacraments are valid as with Orthodox.

The last Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Ichege of the See of St. Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axum. However, he died on August 16, 2012 and a new Patriarch has not be elected.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit