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Head of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, Dies Suddenly

Paulos led 40 million Ethiopian Orthodox Christians since 1992.
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The leader of Ethiopia's largest Orthodox church died Thursday after receiving treatment for an illness in recent weeks.

The pope of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Paulos, was 76 years old and had served as the Fifth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahdo Orthodox Church since 1992. Paulos previously led Ethiopia's 40 million Orthodox Christians, who constitute half of the country's population.

Ethiopian official Mulugeta Aserate Kassa told BBC that Paulos had been "very healthy" when he led a service in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. However, he was later rushed to the hospital. The cause of death has not been confirmed, although one opposition website reported that Paulos suffered a heart attack.

According to the MFA, the Office of the Patriarch has indicated that the Holy Synod will hold an emergency session to decide on the date and place of the funeral ceremony. However, as of this morning the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church had not released a statement on its website.

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