New Jerusalem Church scandal

The intrigue-ridden Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem appears to be in the throes of another scandal after a source, who spoke to Kathimerini yesterday, charged that over 1 million euros was found to be missing from the Church’s coffers. On Monday, Athens’s chief prosecutor, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, ordered a preliminary investigation into press reports that $5 million had disappeared from the Patriarchate’s funds. But a Patriarchate source told Kathimerini an initial internal investigation had already confirmed that at least 1 million euros was missing. The source alleged that the Patriarchate’s financial manager was the key suspect. «He had powers which, unfortunately, he should not have had. We are concerned and we do not even want to imagine what other adventures this young man has got us into,» he said. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate has come under attack from Arab worshippers who claim the Church gave in to pressure from the Israeli government to sell some of its land on Palestinian territory. Senior clerics have denied this and say that Israel appropriated it to build a security fence. Relations between the Patriarchate, the Israeli government and Palestinian Christians have been strained over recent years. It was only this January, over two years after he was elected, that Tel Aviv officially recognized Patriarch Irenaios I as head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land. Irenaios was accused by Palestinians at the time of plotting with the Israelis to marginalize his Arab flock. Patriarchate sources say there have now been calls from Palestinian worshippers for the establishment of an Arab-speaking Patriarchate. Last May, Irenaios tabled a suit against one of his senior bishops, whom he accused of plotting to assassinate him.