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New York, USA - The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abune Paulos died on August 16 at the age of 76, according to his private secretary.
The secretary told the Ethiopian News Agency that Paulos died following medical treatment.
According to news reports, Paulos had been admitted to the hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after suffering a heart attack on 15 August.
He was the fifth patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and served in that role since 1992.
National Council of Churches President Kathryn Lohre said Paulos "has left behind a legacy of faithful Christian witness on the most pressing issues of his time, and demonstrated a firm commitment to ecumenism throughout his life and ministry. We extend our condolences to all Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in this time of mourning, especially those who are our brothers and sisters here in the United States."
Paulos was also president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and was admired for his work on HIV/AIDS, interfaith dialogue and the protection of refugees, according to a WCC statement.
Paulos led the 40 million members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and served on the WCC Central Committee and the Commission on Faith and Order.
While he was instrumental in interfaith dialogue initiatives, Paulos was vocal in several international platforms, including the World Economic Forum and the World Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders at the United Nations.
In recognition of his outstanding work for the welfare of refugees, in 2000 he was awarded the Nansen Medal for Africa by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This year, he was also honored by the Vision for Generations for his 20 years of leadership in the campaign to address HIV and AIDS in Ethiopia.