Magazine article The Christian Century

Orthodox Depose Holy Land Patriarch

Magazine article The Christian Century

Orthodox Depose Holy Land Patriarch

Article excerpt

Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic leaders have offered to mediate in a scandal in Jerusalem that has seen the Greek Orthodox patriarch for the Holy Land Itineos I deposed by his own bishops over allegations that he authorized the transfer of church property to Jewish investors.

The allegations that Irineos I approved a long-term lease of church property in Jerusalem's Old City to Jewish investors have caused a split in the church and also evoked concern by leaders of churches in the city.

The reports also infuriated the church's mostly Arab parishioners, who have long complained about the control over church property by Greek clerics and the church's failure to appoint a Palestinian patriarch instead of a Greek.

"We have completed the process of removing Irineos as patriarch," patriarchate secretary Atistarchos told journalists May 7. "For us, he is now considered the ex-patriarch," Atistarchos said, after 12 of the church's 18 bishops voted to remove Irineos from office.

Prior to those proceedings, Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem representing the Roman Catholic Church; Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem; and Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land said they were willing to mediate, in a statement issued to Palestinian Arabic-language newspapers.

"We express our disagreement with the selling of any Christian property of any denomination to any side because the purpose of these properties is to serve the church and its children," they said. …

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