csw.org - There are renewed questions regarding the current status of Patriarch Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, after he failed to deliver the traditional televised Geez New Year blessing on 11 September. Geez New Year is marked by the Eritrean Orthodox Church as the start of the year according to the Julian calendar.
The patriarch’s reappearance in public at a church service on 16 July sparked speculation about his imminent release from house arrest and reinstatement to office. He has been under house arrest since January 2007, after being removed from office, in violation of canon law, for repeatedly objecting to government interference in ecclesiastical affairs.
At the church service, the patriarch was not permitted to speak, despite being overheard asking for the opportunity to address the congregation. Instead, he was swiftly ushered off the premises and placed under house arrest at a new location.
CSW’s sources report that as the clamour to hear from the patriarch grew, a heavily-edited video of the patriarch speaking to "workers of the patriarchate" was released. Fresh photographs of the patriarch blessing selected visitors have also surfaced. However, scepticism surrounding the manner and terms of his release has deepened after the blessing for Geez New Year was delivered by Bishop Lukas, a pro-government cleric who is generally considered to harbour ambitions of being the next patriarch.