WCC asks Israel to recognize head of Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
WCC asks Israel to recognize head of Orthodox Church of Jerusalem -03/10/06
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for "the prompt and
unqualified recognition of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III as the
primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem by the Government of Israel."
The statement came from WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, in
a letter sent to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the end of last
month (September 2006). It follows a lengthy dispute between the Orthodox
Church of Jerusalem and the Israeli administration.
Under long-standing agreements, the election of the patriarch of Jerusalem,
the oldest and largest church in the Holy Land, is endorsed by the Israeli,
Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.
The Israeli authorities have, however, refused to validate the August 2005
election of the leader of the Word Council of Churches' largest member
church in the Holy Land, and have thus prevented the church from fulfilling
its regular functions.
Qualifying this refusal as an "unjustified delay", the WCC general
secretary also objected to Israel's continued recognition of the "duly
deposed" former patriarch Irineos which, he stated, was "in contravention
of the actions of the legitimate religious representatives" of the church
The WCC central committee meeting in September 2006 requested the general
secretary to intervene with the Israeli government on this issue.
"I would end this letter with the observation that meaningful and
appropriate demonstrations of respect for religion do honour to those in
positions of power in every place. Nowhere is this more the case than in
the divided city of Jerusalem and among communities around the world that
look to it in faith and hope," concluded Dr Kobia.
The full text of the letter sent to Israel's Prime Minister is available on
the WCC website.
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