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Israel in a quandary over whether to recognize Orthodox patriarch

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2006.01.01 Anglican Journal: Israel in a quandary over whether to recognize Orthodox patriarch ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL Jerusalem The Greek Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2006
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      2006.01.01 Anglican Journal:
      Israel in a quandary over whether to recognize Orthodox patriarch

      ECUMENICAL NEWS INTERNATIONAL

      Jerusalem
      The Greek Orthodox church in the Holy Land enthroned a new patriarch
      to replace Irineos, who was deposed by his bishops after a scandal
      about the sale and leasing of church land to investors linked to
      ultranationalist Jewish groups, but Israel is in a quandary over
      whether to grant him recognition.
      Greek president Karolos Papoulias, at the head of a delegation
      of political and church officials from Greece, hailed the
      enthronement of Patriarch Theophilos III on Nov. 22 as "a new
      beginning" for the church.
      Waving Greek and Cypriot flags, hundreds of Greek Orthodox
      clerics and parishioners attended Patriarch Theophilos' enthronement
      ceremony in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
      The crowds shouted the Greek word axios ("you are worthy") at
      the ceremony for Patriarch Theophilos. He later gave a speech
      promising the patriarchate would "emerge from the sea of corruption
      and fraud."
      Israel is reluctant to abandon Mr. Irineos, who was demoted to
      the rank of a monk over the sale and leasing of church property to
      Jewish and Israeli investors.
      Under a tradition dating back centuries, a new Greek patriarch
      in Jerusalem has to be confirmed by the rulers of the Holy Land, in
      this case Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan.
      The land deals raised a furor in the Holy Land's close-knit
      Greek Orthodox community, whose mostly Palestinian parishioners have
      long resented the sale of church property to Israelis.
      The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is one of the biggest
      landowners in Jerusalem, but it is deep in debt and Patriarch
      Theophilos faces a difficult task rebuilding the church's finances as
      well as its prestige.
      Mr. Irineos, who has denied approving the land deals,
      challenged the validity of his dismissal in an interview with the
      Jerusalem Post newspaper. He stayed in a room in the patriarchate,
      surrounded by supporters and bodyguards, during the ceremony.

      Anglican Journal, January 2006
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