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New Claims Raise Pressure on Patriarch

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  • Fr John Brian
    GREECE: New Claims Raise Pressure on Patriarch Irenaios ‘tried to appease Israelis’ 2005-05-03 16:26:11 The embattled Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2005
      GREECE: New Claims Raise Pressure on Patriarch
      Irenaios ‘tried to appease Israelis’
      2005-05-03 16:26:11

      The embattled Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem leased Church property
      in the holy city to Jewish groups to prove to Israeli authorities that he
      does not sympathize with the Palestinians, the Israeli daily Haaretz
      reported on Sunday, citing Irenaios’s fugitive former financial manager,
      Nikos Papadimas.
      The report came just two days after the Israeli newspaper that first carried
      claims of the land deal, Maariv, published excerpts of what it said was the
      eight-page lease agreement between the Patriarchate and unidentified foreign
      Jewish investors.

      The alleged deal has infuriated Palestinians who fear it would expand
      Israeli control of Arab east Jerusalem, which they want as the capital of a
      future Palestinian state. Israel claims the whole city as its indivisible

      Greek and Palestinian officials at the Patriarchate have called for Irenaios
      ’s resignation, while the Greek Foreign Ministry has strongly hinted the
      patriarch should step down.

      Irenaios has denied the allegations and accused Papadimas of embezzling
      church funds. Speaking to Greek pilgrims yesterday, he once again maintained
      his innocence.

      “May my hands be cut off if I have stolen,” he said. “Fresh mud sticks, but
      once it has dried it falls away... We have betrayed nobody, and our last
      breath will be drawn for the Holy Sepulcher... Unfortunately, there are
      worms and pieces of rubbish... even among our brotherhood.”

      For two years, the Israeli government had refused to approve Irenaios’s
      election as patriarch, suspecting him of being anti-Israel and of having
      close ties to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in November. But in
      January 2004 — following considerable pressure from Athens — Israel suddenly
      confirmed Irenaios in his post and shortly afterward, the church leader
      signed over two Palestinian-inhabited buildings in Jerusalem’s Old City to a
      Jewish lessee working through a company in the Bahamas, Papadimas was quoted
      as telling Haaretz.

      Papadimas, who vanished three months ago, is wanted in Greece after Church
      officials in Athens accused him of absconding with 600,000 euros in church
      funds. His wife is wanted on separate charges of money laundering. The
      newspaper claimed Papadimas is hiding in the United States.

      Opponents of Irenaios had threatened to disrupt Orthodox Christian Easter
      rituals in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on Saturday but were kept away
      by hundreds of Israeli police, who set up barricades in the alleys leading
      to the Jerusalem holy site. This followed protests by Palestinians on Friday
      outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Meanwhile, in a fight over
      precedence inside the church on Saturday afternoon, Armenian priests
      attacked Irenaios and his retinue ahead of the flame-lighting ceremony on
      the spot Christians identify as Christ’s grave.

      Source: Kathimerini English edition


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