The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been led by an Ethiopian Patriarch-Catholicos of Eritrea with the additional title of Abuna since 1959, when Cyril VI, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, granted the church autocephaly. Official titles for the Abuna include Patriarch of Ethiopia, Catholicos, Archbishop of Axum, and Ichege of the See of Saint Taklahaimanot. Mathias, who assumed leadership of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on February 28, 2013, is the current head of the organization. In order to be clean in front of God and give him their best effort, people wash their hands and faces before praying. Shoes are also taken off to signify that one is praying in front of a holy God. Ethiopian Orthodox worshipers remove their shoes before entering a church temple because Moses was told to do so while on holy ground while viewing the burning bush. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church also upholds Sabbatarianism, keeping both the Lord’s Day and the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), though Sunday receives more attention because of Christ’s Resurrection. Male circumcision is mandated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and is almost universally practiced there among Orthodox men. As a rite of passage, the Ethiopian Orthodox circumcise their sons “anywhere from the first week of life to the first few years.” The Ethiopian Orthodox Church recommends various hand washing techniques and historically adheres to rituals that are comparable to Jewish netilat yadayim, such as washing your hands after using the restroom, the shower, or the bathroom, before you say a prayer, and after you finish eating. Days of ritual purification are observed by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Ritually unclean individuals are allowed to approach the church but are not allowed inside; instead, they stand close to the church door and pray during the liturgy.
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