Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Millennial Opportunties:Celebrating Millennial Masqual Renaissance

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-; GSE4P&P

Source: BBC

September 27, 2007; 2. Ethiopia celebrates 'true cross'

Elizabeth Blunt

Ethiopia's former Derg junta disapproved of religion

This week Addis Ababa is playing host to a gathering of Church leaders from all over the world.

Ethiopia - which follows its own ancient Coptic calendar - has just celebrated the start of the new millennium.

And the head of the Ethiopian Church has invited his colleagues to take part in a conference on the problems of the world today, and to join him in celebrating Meskel, the first big festival of the Ethiopian religious year.

For the Church, Meskel commemorates the finding of the true cross - Meskel in Amharic - by St Helena in the fourth century AD.

Hidden away

St Helena was the mother of the Emperor Constantine and she went to Jerusalem to look for the cross on which Christ was crucified.

There, the story goes, she was advised to light a fire which would show her where to look.

The smoke from the fire pointed to the place where the cross was buried.

Meskel celebrations are colourful

St Helena then gave pieces of the cross to all the churches.

The Ethiopian church still claims to have its own piece, hidden away at the remote monastery of Gishan Mariam, and celebrates the finding of the cross every year.

But the religious event has clearly got mixed up with older, traditional celebrations.

People are also celebrating the new year, the end of the long, dark rainy season and the return of sunshine and light.

The fields are full of flowers - especially the bright yellow Meskel daisies - and the crops are starting to grow.

Meskel is always a colourful occasion, an excuse for bonfires and parties.

Children make the most of it, knowing that it will be the last festival before they have to go back to school for the new academic year.

Issues for discussion include terrorism, Aids and social change

The biggest public celebration (and the biggest bonfire) is always in the huge open space in the centre of the capital, Meskel Square.

The Derg, the former communist military dictatorship, disapproved both of religion, and of its citizens having fun, and renamed it Revolution Square, but it has now got its old name back.

The patriarch of the Ethiopian Church always attends, but this year he is joined by all the oriental patriarchs - the leaders of Ethiopia's sister Churches, and all the other religious figures who are in Addis Ababa.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches - Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Armenia and south India - are the inheritors of a very ancient Christian tradition and have stood out against various attempts at change over the centuries.

But although they are sister Churches, they have been quite isolated from each other.

Major issues

This will be only the second time their patriarchs have all met; the previous meeting was also in Ethiopia, back in the time of the Emperor Haile Selassie.

And even now the Indian patriarch is having to be represented by his designated successor, since he is too old to travel.

Alongside them will be leaders of the Eastern group of Orthodox Churches - like Russia, Serbia and Greece.

And the Ethiopian patriarch, who currently leads the World Council of Churches, has invited the leaders of all the WCC Churches as well.

As well as enjoying the Meskel celebrations, the Church leaders will also be attending a conference to discuss some of the big issues currently facing the world and their Church members.

The problems of conflict and terrorism are on the agenda, as well as Aids, climate change, poverty and the need for social justice.

The Millennial Masqal Conference should also address the following issues:

Release of ALL political prisoners and restore the democratic rights of the people.
Institute democratic reforms with accountability.
Provide protections for human rights advocates and civic society organization and ensure the existence of adequate monitoring and reporting processes.
Set up an independent judicial system with proper monitoring processes to protect judges from political interference.
Bring to justice all human rights abusers, including the killers of 193 innocent men, women and children and those who wounded 763 others in the post-2005 election period, and thousands of others.
Improve election procedures and ensure fraud free elections.
Remove press censorship and restrictive press laws and establish a program to strengthen private media in Ethiopia.
The bill also

Offers training programs for democratic participation.
Limits the use of U.S. security assistance to peacekeeping and counter- terrorism and NOT against the civilian population.
Fosters economic development.
Provides assistance to strengthen local, regional, and national parliaments and governments, political parties, and civil society groups.
Strengthens training for political parties in the areas of organization building and campaign management.
Provides training for civil society groups in election monitoring.
Promotes dispute resolution by means of dialogue, negotiations and compromise, and
Professionalizes the National Election Board to help it address certain issues, e.g. issues delimitation of constituencies, voter and candidate registration, political party registration, voting irregularities and challenges.

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