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Ethiopian monasticism struggles following Marxist nationalization of land

Catholic World News - November 30, 2010

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is struggling to maintain its monastic traditions in the wake of the Marxist nationalizaton of monastic properties in the late twentieth century.

“Under Marxist Derg rule, which lasted until 1991, the government seized and redistributed church-owned land,” ONE Magazine reports. “Monasteries, which traditionally operated relatively large farms, were forced to forfeit much of their property and, as a result, lost their economic sustainability. Stripped of their resources, monks and nuns also surrendered their vital roles as producers, employers, educators and leaders in their communities.”

0.8% of Ethiopia’s 77.2 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; 51% are Ethiopian Orthodox, 33% are Muslim, and 10% are Protestant. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church ceased to be in communion with the Holy See following the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

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