05/11/2005, 00.00
JORDAN
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Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Ireneos I expected to be removed on Sunday

Amman (AsiaNews) – Jordan's King Abdullah II is expected to confirm the removal of Ireneos I from the post of Greek-Orthodox Patriarch on Sunday, May 15, or Monday, May 16, this according to Jordanian lawmaker Audeh Quawas who headed a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the sale of Church property worth US$ 1.5 million.

In a report released on Tuesday, May 10, the committee found that the Patriarch sold real estate, including two hotels, to an Israeli firm.

Although the final decision belongs to the King, Mr Quawas is confident that King Abdullah will confirm the committee's findings.

"I expect His Majesty's approval on Sunday or Monday. There's never been a case where the monarch has not approved a decision agreed on by the parliament and the cabinet," he said.
On Sunday May 8, Jordanian Interior Minister Awni Yirfas received a document signed by 13 of the 18-member Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, demanding Irineos's removal. 

Quawas said that "following King Abdullah's approval, the Orthodox Synod in Jerusalem would select an interim 'caretaker' to call for elections of a new patriarch."

Those eligible to be the new patriarch for Jerusalem include the Synod members, 12 married priests from Jordan, the West Bank and Israeli Arab congregations, in addition to 50 monks from Orthodox monasteries in the area.
Although Jordan surrendered its claims to East Jerusalem in 1988, it maintains custody of Christian and Muslim holy shrines there as recognised in its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Mr Quawas explained that the Orthodox Church is bound by a 1958 Jordanian law governing church matters. The law bans any sale of church land and property and allows for the removal of any patriarch when two-thirds of the Holy Synod vote for the action. It also gives Jordan the right to endorse the Synod's decision.

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