08/23/2005, 00.00
HOLY LAND
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Eastern Churches react positively to the election of Teophilus

by Jihad Issa
The election of the new Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is greeted by many Churchmen in the Holy Land as liberation from the dictatorship of Ireneos I. The newly-elected Patriarch says he is "indifferent" to Israel's views about his appointment.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The election of Metropolitan Teophilus to the post of Greek-Orthodox Patriarch "was predictable" since "in addition to being a man of God," he is "a man capable of re-establishing order in the Patriarchate after the destitution of Ireneos I," this according to Mgr Joseph Saliba, Greek-Melkite Archimandrite. Speaking to AsiaNews, he emphasised the importance of the unanimous vote, a first in the history of the Patriarchate.

Raouf Abou Jaber, chairman of the Orthodox Council in Jordan and Palestine, said Teophilus' election "opens a new path and is a change truly wished for". Furthermore, "this election is a sign of God's benevolence for the more than 200,000 followers of the Greek-Orthodox Church," he said. "Now I hope an open-minded Council can be set up that would prevent a dictatorship like that under Ireneos."

Attallah Hanna, spokesman for the Patriarchate, released a statement containing the pledges of the newly-elected Patriarch made to the Synod's Fathers right after his election: the return of Church property to the Patriarchate and peace and cooperation within the Synod itself.

At the same time, Patriarch Teophilus said that he was "indifferent" to Israel's recognition—Israel did not even state its position towards Ireneos I's destitution.  

Some analysts in the Holy Land note that Israel's recognition has no legal standing since it has no agreement with the Patriarchate. Recognition for the Synod's decision is just customary and, in a certain sense, done for "peace of mind".

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