Church isolates Patriarch

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

In the first major Orthodox summit in more than a decade, held in its spiritual capital of Istanbul, senior clerics from Russia, Greece, Bulgaria and nine other Orthodox nations further isolated the controversial Patriarch Irineos I.

“We wanted him to resign of his own accord, but unfortunately he refused, so we took this decision,” said Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

The synod, attended by Irineos, lacks the authority to fire him, but its decision to end recognition further isolates the patriarch and increases the pressure on him to resign.

Earlier this month Irineos was dismissed by the Greek Orthodox Church leadership – but he’s refusing to step down.

Irineos, the religious leader of 100,000 mostly Palestinian Christians, denies charges he was involved in leasing church property to anonymous Jewish investors in Arab areas.

The property, three buildings in the main square near the Jaffa Gate, have for generations been occupied by Palestinians.

The allegations provoked outrage among Palestinians, who see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The Greek government joined the fray on Tuesday, calling on the patriarch to accept the synod’s decision.

But Irineos looks set to tough it out, with his Jerusalem-based spokeswoman saying he won’t voluntarily leave office.

“The patriarch declares that according to the law, he is the only legal patriarch and he was appointed for life,” she said.

“The decision in Istanbul was taken without any proof or documents against him. The decision was made before he arrived and is purely political.”

The affair has seen a rare consensus reached among senior representatives from the normally fractious Orthodox Church.

Bartholomew has clashed in recent years with the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow, as well as the Church of Greece, over the extent of his authority.

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