09/20/2005, 00.00
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Jordan recognises Theophilos III as Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

Royal decree approves appointment of the Archbishop of Tabor as Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority unofficially approves the election; Israel remains silent.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Jordanian government has issued a royal decree approving the election of Theophilos III, Archbishop of Tabor, as Greek Orthodox Patriarch for Jerusalem. The recognition is not unexpected. Experts in Jerusalem have told AsiaNews that the announcement was prepared during the visit by the newly-elected Patriarch to Jordan's capital of Amman in early September.

Archbishop Theophilus met Prince Ghazi, the official representative of King Abdallah, and Awni Yerfas, Interior Minister, who greeted his election with joy, calling it "the path towards a new era in the history of the Patriarchate that will end corruption and mismanagement".

By law and custom, the governments of Jordan, Palestine and Israel must approve any new appointment within the Patriarchate.

The Palestinian Authority announced that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave his approval yesterday to the election of Theophilos.

In an interview with AsiaNews, the secretary general of the Greek-Orthodox Synod, Archbishop Aristarchos, said that for the time being the Jordanian decree is the only official pronouncement on the issue, but "we are hoping for signals from Palestine and Israel".

Israel remains the great unknown. The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has not yet said anything with regards to decisions taken by the Synod since the removal of Ireneos I from the office of Patriarch, guilty of selling property owned by the Patriarchate to Israeli interests.

In Jerusalem, some sources confirm that Israel's silence is dictated by political and economic considerations and that the Jewish state will not make any move until "a face-saving exit strategy is found". Meantime, a commission of the Israeli cabinet has been set up to deal with the issue.

Ireneos I, who was reduced to the rank of monk for having celebrated a function in Ramallah as Patriarch, is currently living in Jerusalem, inside the Patriarchate. Archbishop Aristarchos said that he "is in his room and is calmly working".

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See also
Israel ready to recognise Theophilos as Jerusalem's new patriarch
Israel officially "objects" to the inauguration ceremony of Theophilos III
Greek-Orthodox Synod sets election date for new Patriarch
New trustee in charge of Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate
Eastern Churches react positively to the election of Teophilus


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