While the Roman Catholic’s Pope Francis visit to America is dominating international media, the other Pope from Egypt is visiting Ethiopia on Saturday. The global head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II will visit various famous cathedrals and monasteries in northern Ethiopia.
Large security apparatus will follow the Pope as he travels around the country, addis ababa news media reported on thursday.
Many orthodox Ethiopians respect and sympathize with the Egyptian Orthodox church that has endured persecution from the muslim dominated Egyptian government. However, some Ethiopians say they do not like Cairo’s tactic of exploiting the Coptic Pope as a tool to influence Nile river politics.
Such feeling was shared by Emperor Haile Selassie over fifty years ago. The 1959 Nile treaty allocated the river for only Egypt and Sudan, but completely ignored Ethiopia. In anger, the Ethiopian emperor cut the official relationship between the Egyptian and Ethiopian Orthodox churches forever.
On sunday, Pope Tawadros II will attend Ethiopian church services during the occasion of the Feast of the Holy Cross, one of the most colorful holidays in Ethiopia.
Though not as influential, the churches of both Egypt and Ethiopia are much older than the Roman Vatican.