Synod notifies Jordan of patriarch's dismissal
- 2005.05.09 JP/AP: Synod notifies Jordan of patriarch's dismissal
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST
May. 8, 2005
Jordan has received a document demanding the dismissal of Greek Orthodox
Patriarch Irineos I over his alleged role in a controversial Jerusalem
property deal, a church official and lawmaker both said Sunday.
The document, signed by 13 of the 17-member Synod of the Greek Orthodox
Church in Jerusalem, was sent to Jordan's Interior Minister.
Jordan, Jerusalem's Christian and Muslim holy site custodian, has said it
would accept the dismissal if two-thirds of the synod's members backed the
decision. It was unclear when it would make its decision. Irineos has been
quoted as saying he is determined to fight the dismissal.
Jerusalem Patriarchate clergyman Archmandrite Chrysostomos, speaking on
behalf of Irineos, argued the allegations were prompted by a power struggle.
"This is an effort by some of these people who ever since losing the
election themselves four years ago have been seeking an opportunity to
capitalize on the discrediting of His Beatitude," he told The Associated
Press in Jerusalem in English. "The body that they have formed, however, is
illegal. ... Their statement asking for his resignation also lays them open
to be judged under the canon law of the church."
Chrysostomos says Irineos has no intention of resigning. "He has no
involvement," he said.
"A decision by (Jordan's) prime minister, followed by a royal decree
endorsing the document, is required to put the dismissal into effect,"
explained parliamentarian Odeh Qawas, who heads Jordan's parliamentary
committee following up the investigation into Irineos' alleged sale of
property to Israel.
Qawas also alleged another church official was caught stealing important
documents and money from a safe in the Jerusalem's church's head office.
Chrysostomos denied the accusations, saying the person in question was
authorized to withdraw the funds.
The property transactions Irineos allegedly was involved in are politically
explosive because Palestinians see them as abetting Jewish settlement
groups in their efforts to expand their presence in east Jerusalem. Most of
the church's flock in the Holy Land are Palestinians.
Irineos has denied allegations that he was involved in leasing church
property, including two hotels in the Old City, to an Israeli firm.
The church complies with a 1958 Jordanian law that bans any sale of church
land and property.
Father Christopher Hanna, deputy of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in
Northern Jordan, also said he delivered a copy of the document demanding
Irineos' dismissal to Interior Minister Awni Yirfas.
A copy of the three-page document obtained by The Associated Press asked
Jordan to recognize a church committee's efforts to elect a new patriarch.
Under a 1994 peace treaty with Israel, Jordan was given the responsibility
of overseeing the affairs of Christian and Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem.
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