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Ethiopian Cardinal: To bring people to Jesus we must listen without judging

2015-03-22

Over 4,500 miles. That's the distance between Rome and Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. And that's also how far Monsignor Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, the new cardinal from Ethiopia, will travel whenever he's called to the Vatican. The cardinal said his selection shows the Pope is reaching out to the Church's peripheries.

CARD. BERHANEYESUS DEMEREW SOURAPHIEL
Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
"And he wants to show that the Catholic Church is a universal Church. So when he calls Ethiopia to participate in the College of Cardinals that is to advise him, to help him from our point of view.” 

More than half of Ethiopia's 82 million people are Christians. The vast majority are Orthodox, and less than one percent are Catholic.

The cardinal says that Muslims and Christians peacefully coexist in his country, but extremists try to divide Ethiopia.

CARD. BERHANEYESUS DEMEREW SOURAPHIEL
Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
"I would say the fundamentalists have tried to tell the Muslims in Ethiopia, you are not true Muslims because you are living with the Christians, you eat with them and so on.”

Ethiopia has one of the world's oldest Christian communities. The cardinal says that they bring traditional values to the Church that secular society has lost. He believes it is a formula to revitalize the Church.

CARD. BERHANEYESUS DEMEREW SOURAPHIEL
Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
"Jesus goes to persons, He speaks to them whoever they are without judging, and listening and nowadays there is not much listening.  There is always categorization of people and putting people in different boxes. But people are, persons are complex persons. They have feelings, they have their own values and so on.  So for the Church to be credible in the world I think it is good that it continues to be present wherever people suffer.”

The new cardinal described Ethiopia as a peaceful country that seeks to fix its problems through education. One major problem his country faces is that immigrants seeking a better life in Europe often begin their journey in Ethiopia. He says that the solution is to show young Africans the truth, that Africa can offer hope too.


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