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UK News

Former Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Ethiopian tablet in Westminster Abbey to be repatriated, naming it a ‘matter of faith’

by Alex Collett

The former Archbishop of Canterbury is calling on Westminster Abbey to give back a sacred tablet to Ethiopia after stating it is a “matter of faith.”

The Rt Rev, Lord Carey of Clifton, 86-years-old wants the sacred object to be repatriated to the Horn of Africa after it was seized following the Battle of Magdala in 1868.

The Tabot which is viewed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as a sacred likeness to the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, is featured inside the Lady Chapel in Westminster. 

Lord Carey, earlier this year, called for The British Museum to hand back its 11 sacred Tabots, which he said are “essential to Ethiopian worship.”

Speaking to The Telegraph he said: “In the spirit of goodwill and decency, we ask for a conversation with the British Museum to take this forward. The issue is very much one of faith.

“It is cruel to deprive believers of access to faith and tabots are essential to Ethiopian worship.”

Lord Carey led the Church of England between 1991 and 2002.

The Ethiopian state has also called for it to be repatriated, which may need to be approved by King Charles, because the Abbey falls under his direct jurisdiction.

Currently the Tabot in the Lady Chapel sits in a cavity behind the altar and cannot be seen by anyone other than a priest, in line with Ethiopian Orthodox beliefs.

A spokesman for Westminster Abbey told the Telegraph: “Westminster Abbey is very aware of the importance and significance of the Ethiopian Tabot which we have in our care.

'It is kept in a very sacred place within the church, properly covered and hidden from view. We have no current plans to change these arrangements.”

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