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The Catholic Church in Ethiopia

The Catholic Church has been present in Ethiopia from the beginning of Christianity. The Bible's Acts of the Apostles tells how one of the first converts to Christianity was an Ethiopian, baptized by the Deacon Philip (Acts 8:26-40).  As history unfolded, the Catholic Church in Ethiopia began its consistent expansion only in recent time. Although historically speaking, the Church formally started with the sending of St. Formensius (Abune Selama) to Akum around 340 AD.


The Ethiopian Catholic Church is especially close to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, whose doctrine and liturgical tradition she shares. While separated by their understanding of the nature of Christ (Chalcedon 451AD) and the Pope’s exercise of authority, the two churches share basically the same sacraments, prayers and traditions. For this reason, the Ethiopian Catholic Church does not proselytize Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, but strives for brotherly cooperation.


The Ethiopian Catholic Church has two great liturgical traditions: from Addis Ababa northward, the sacred liturgy is celebrated in the Alexandrian Ethiopian Rite, which roots itself from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; in the southern part of the country including the Vicariate of Awassa, the sacred liturgy is celebrated according to the Latin Rite, using local languages of Sidamo, Guji, Borana, Gedeo, Koreta and Amharic.