Greek Orthodox Patriarchate hostage of Israeli and Palestinian government
13 June, 2005 ISRAEL - PALESTINE - HOLY LAND Greek Orthodox Patriarchate hostage of Israeli and Palestinian government by Aryeh Cohen
The two governments have not yet recognized the removal of Ireneos and claim they have authority to determine who shall be the new Patriarch.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has addressed an appeal "to all the religious institutions in the world and to all governments... to safeguard [the] independence, autonomy and unity" of the Patriarchate. The appeal, dated 9 June and distributed widely by the Press Office of the Patriarchate, is signed by the interim administrator, or Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Cornelios. It protests the refusal of the Israeli and Palestinian governments to recognise the canonical removal from office of the former Patriarch, Ireneos, and contrasts this refusal with the correctness of the attitude taken by the Kingdom of Jordan, which "responded immediately and recognised the dismissal of Mgr. Ireneos, and the election of the Locum Tenens, in order to lead the Patriarchate to elections" of a new Patriarch.
The appeal rejects the claim of governments that they have authority to determine who shall govern, or not govern, the Patriarchate. It says that, while "it is true that, for historic reasons" the election of either the Patriarch or the Locum Tenens is customarily "approved" by the local governments, this "approval" is simply "an indication of mutual respect and trust and the recognition by the government/s of the will of the Church. It was never meant to be a vehicle for intervention, directly or indirectly, in the internal affairs of the Church." Instead, in the present situation, the Locum Tenens observes, the Patriarchate is being reduced "to a status of hostage, unable to fulfil its mission and provide for its administration."
Ireneos I is accused to have secretly sold to Jewish investors real estate in the Old City not far from Jaffa Gate that belonged to the Patriarchate. As a result of this act, the Jerusalem Synod removed him from office on May 7. On May 24 the pan-Orthodox Synod in Istanbul (Constantinople) stripped Ireneos I of its title of patriarch. Since then the Government of Israel has sent armed police into the Greek Orthodox monastery in the Old City of Jerusalem to keep ex-Patriarch Ireneos in possession of the Patriarch's apartments, against the will of the Patriarchate's Synod.
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06/2/2005 ISRAEL HOLY LAND - The fall of Ireneos I: Israel acts as the Ottoman ...Patriarch Irineos loses Jordan citizenship2005.06.11 UPI:
Patriarch Irineos loses Jordan citizenship
Amman, Jordan, Jun. 11 (UPI) -- The Jordanian government stripped ousted
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos I of his Jordanian
nationality for leasing church properties to Jews.
Amman's daily al-Dustour reported Saturday that Jordan informed the Greek
government of its decision taken last week.
Irineos was dismissed from his post May 6 after leasing church properties
in Jerusalem worth $130 million to Jewish investors.
The long-term leases sparked condemnations among Arab Greek Orthodox
Christians, mostly Palestinians, who pressed for the dismissal of Irineos I
and his removal from Jerusalem.
He was temporarily replaced by Archbishop Cornelius, Metropolitan of Petra,
until a new patriarch is named.
Copyright 2005 United Press InternationalIsrael cagey on church crisis2005.06.03 Athens News:
Israel cagey on church crisis
Cabinet secretary says a committee will probe if Eirinaios was toppled for
leasing East Jerusalem land to Jews
Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra (L, background) attends a meeting of the
brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City on May 26. He has
been chosen by the Holy Synod as a temporary replacement for the church's
former patriarch Eirineos
THE BROTHERHOOD of the Holy Sepulchre began the long and arduous task of
electing a new patriarch after the ouster of Patriarch Eirinaios, with the
appointment of Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra on May 30 to serve as locum
tenens. But Eirinaios insists he is still the legitimate patriarch, despite
the fact that a Pan-Orthodox synod of church leaders decided the opposite,
and he is considered likely to take his case to the Israeli Supreme Court.
Cornelius sent a letter on May 31 announcing his appointment to the three
governments that must approve his election as locum tenens (effectively,
acting patriarch), the list of candidates to succeed Eirinaios and the
election of the new patriarch, ie Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian
Authority. Once the locum tenens is approved, the election of a new
patriarch must be held within three weeks, according to the 1958 Jordanian
law that still governs the election of the patriarch. Cornelius, 69, was
well regarded when he served as locum tenens in the eight months between
the death of the late patriarch Diodoros and Eirinaios' election in August
Archbishop Theophilos of Tabor (the place where, according to tradition,
Christ showed his divinity in a blinding light), a former church envoy to
the Moscow patriarchate, is considered the favourite to succeed Eirinaios,
but many bishops are courting the church's top post. Theophilos' rivals say
that he is favoured by Israel owing to his ties with key US officials, such
as former CIA chief George Tenet, whom he reportedly met through the Greek
lobby in the US. They note that, remarkably, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice held a meeting with Theophilos at her request during a
recent trip to Israel.
Israel remains cautious
Israel is the only government of the three with a say in the patriarchal
election that has not yet recognised the ouster of Eirinaios, and it is not
likely to do so any time soon. That is primarily because a key reason for
the patriarch's dismissal was the Arab uproar - mainly in the
patriarchate's largely Palestinian flock - caused by the sale of prime East
Jerusalem properties to Jews. The church's dissident bishops assured
Israeli officials a few weeks ago that it was not the lease itself that
they objected to, but rather the fact that Eirinaios had flouted the
synodal system of collective church administration and that he had given no
accounting of where the money went.
Israeli Jerusalem Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, a former public security
minister, on May 31 appointed a three-member committee to probe the
circumstances under which Eirinaios was deposed. The committee will study
the legal issues involved, Israel's relations with the patriarchate and the
meaning of the Pan-Orthodox synod's recent decision to dismiss Eirinaios.
The move was made following consultations with PM Ariel Sharon.
Israeli cabinet secretary Ramon Maimon, in an interview with the Athens
News, said that Israel is in no rush to decide on how to address the
situation. "We are not in a hurry to determine our position on this issue.
Everyone would say to you that it's unusual to dismiss a patriarch, whom
everyone influenced Israel to recognise two years ago. We cannot decide
overnight whether to recognise an impeachment procedure. We are taking very
cautious steps and learning the situation from day to day, not only what is
happening within the patriarchate, but also the legal status and the
interests of the states that give or don't give recognition," Maimon said.
That means that the bishops will likely face the dilemma of whether to
elect the new patriarch before Israel even withdraws its recognition of
"Israel has a very long and good relationship with the patriarchate.
Because it's in Jerusalem and we lease a lot of their land, like the
Knesset property, the Holy Church is very important to Israel. We believe
in freedom of religion and it's very important for us to keep good
relations with the patriarchate," Maimon noted, adding that Israel respects
the Greek character of the patriarchate. "It is called the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate, and Israel won't change it to another. For quite a long time,
all the members of the synod have been Greek, and the patriarch is Greek.
We go along with this tradition," he said.
Maimon stressed that the Israeli investigative committee will speak with
both sides to determine whether Eirinaios' ouster was connected with
leasing land to Jews. "Our position as the state of the Jews is that it is
outrageous for someone to be dismissed for leasing land in Israel to Jews.
From our point of view, it is unheard of. One side [Eirinaios] tells us
that it is connected and the other side that it is not," he said, denying
Israeli press reports that the Israeli state financed the controversial
lease of the East Jerusalem properties.
The Israeli cabinet secretary refused to comment on whether Israel
recognises the 1958 Jordanian law governing the patriarchate, noting that
"there is a probability that one of the two sides will go to court", an
apparent reference to Eirinaios.
"We will not decide anything regarding the locum tenens, another patriarch,
or a new procedure for another patriarch. We will focus now on the work of
the committee, and I don't know how long it will last," Maimon said. The
government is apparently unlikely to react negatively if a new patriarch is
elected before Israel recognises the locum tenens. "We have a precedent,
because four years ago they decided on a new patriarch, and it took us a
year-and-a-half to give recognition. We are in no rush, not because we want
to make trouble, but because it is quite unusual to dismiss a holy father
for a group of believers. This is the first time this has happened since
Israel was established, and we want to be cautious," Maimon emphasised.
ATHENS NEWS , 03/06/2005, page: A04
Article code: C13133A041
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