Cardinal Berhaneyesus Demerew, C.M., Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia), was born in Cheleleqa, Ethiopia on 14 July 1948. In 1963 he entered the Lazarist Minor Seminary and then studied philosophy at the Makanissa Major Seminary.
In 1970 he moved to London, where he studied at the Missionary Institute and earned a bachelor of divinity at King’s College. He was ordained a priest on 4 July 1976 in Ethiopia where he was imprisoned by the Communists from 1979-1980.
After his release, he moved to Rome, where he served as a delegate to the General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission and also earned a master degree in socio-economic development at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He returned to Ethiopia and in 1985 began serving as director of the Lazarist Novitiate, in addition to being a parish priest and lecturer at the St. Francis Institute of Philosophy and Theology. With the establishment of the Apostolic Prefecture of Jimma-Bonga, Ethiopia on 10 June 1994, he became the first apostolic prefect.
On 25 January 1998 he was ordained a bishop subsequent to his appointment as titutlar Bishop of Bita and as Auxiliary of the archdiocese of Addis Ababa. On 7 July 1999 he was appointed Archbishop of Addis Ababa.
Since 1999 he has served as president of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Episcopal Conference, as official representative of the Catholic Church to the Ethiopian Government and international organizations in Ethiopia. Since 1998 he has served as president of the Council of the Ethiopian Church. In 2014 he was elected chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa.
In his role as President of the Bishops’ Conference of Ethiopia and Eritrea, he participated in the Third Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family (October 2014) and in the XIV General Ordinary Assembly on the family (October 2015).
Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of 15 February 2015, of the Title of San Romano Martire.
- Congregation for the Oriental Churches.