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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate “hostage” of Israeli and Palestinian government

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  • St. James
    13 June, 2005ISRAEL - PALESTINE - HOLY LANDGreek Orthodox Patriarchate “hostage” of Israeli and Palestinian governmentby Aryeh Cohen The two governments
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 13, 2005
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      13 June, 2005
      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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      See also
      05/25/2005 ISRAEL - PALESTINE – HOLY LAND - Joy among Jerusalem Orthodox, Ireneos excommunicated ...
      09/27/2004 israel - holy land - “Peaceful” Orthodox Patriarch assaults police and ...
      05/11/2005 JORDAN - Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Ireneos I expected to be ...
      05/31/2005 HOLY LAND - New trustee in charge of Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate
      06/2/2005 ISRAEL – HOLY LAND - The fall of Ireneos I: Israel acts as the Ottoman ...
      Patriarch Irineos loses Jordan citizenship
      2005.06.11 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 International
      Israel cagey on church crisis
       2005.06.03 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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