12/17/2007, 00.00
HOLY LAND - ISRAEL
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Two years on, Israel recognises the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch Theofilos III

by Joshua Lapide
The Greek-Orthodox Patriarch was elected by the Synod in 2005, following the removal of Ireneos I. The Israeli government had refused to recognise the election stalling the juridical situation of the Patriarchate. The Supreme Court prepares to intervene.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Two years on from his nomination by the Synod the State of Israel has recognised the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch, Theofilos III. He had presented a complaint to the Israeli Supreme Court in protest: judges are preparing to deliver a verdict on the issue after Christmas.

The decision, the result of intense pressure from the international community, breaks a deadlock reaching back to August 2005, when the Greek-Orthodox Synod unanimously elected 55 year-old bishop Theolfilos as the new Patriarch, taking the place of Ireneos I, deposed by the pan-Orthodox Synod led by Patriarch Bartholomew I on May 24 of the same year.

Ireneos was removed after accusations made by the clergy of his Church that he had secretly sold buildings and land belonging to the Patriarchate to Jewish businessmen, in the old city if Jerusalem, close to Jaffna gate.  Moreover he is infamous for having urged his followers to engage in open combat against the friars of the Holy Sepulchre and for having continually sought to create difficulties regarding the upkeep of sacred sights jointly owned with Catholics.

According to the laws governing elections, the nomination of a new Patriarch has to be approved by the governments of Palestine, Israel and Jordan.  Immediately after the election the Palestinian Authority expressed its “respect for the Synod’s decision”, while Jordan after a delay came out in support of Theofilos.

The Greek Orthodox Church in Israel and Palestine counts for aprox. 90 thousand faithful and is one of the biggest communities in the Holy Land.

 

 

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