The Role of Religious Leaders in Building and Sustaining Peace in Ethiopia
Abba Hagos Hayish Fessuh, C.M., is an Ethiopian Catholic Priest, a member of the Congregation of Mission (Vincentian). Fr. Hagos has vast experience in pastoral ministry in rural and urban settings and working with disadvantaged community groups, and accompanying people displaced by war. He has also led a team working on mediation and reconciliation between Communist perpetuators and victims of the "Red Terrorism" period in Ethiopia.
In his capacity as Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ethiopia, Fr. Hagos has gained rich experience working on the national and International level, particularly in promoting integral human development, working on anti-human trafficking, church and state relationships, and interfaith dialogue in Ethiopia.
Amid the ongoing socio-political tensions and conflicts in Ethiopia, religions have a special role in national peacebuilding efforts. Religious leaders in Ethiopia possess a wealth of resources for peace, including scriptures, deposits of tradition and teaching, cultural practices, and credibility with the people. They also have access to social and development infrastructures that can provide crucial foundations for peace, and a history of peaceful co-existence from which lessons can be learned. Drawing on these various resources, Ethiopia needs religious leaders to develop skills for peacebuilding and lead reconciliation and healing from the grassroots to the top levels of society.