NEWS

Forsaken by all, ousted Irenaios remains defiant

Patriarch Irenaios, who was toppled from the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem last week by his own bishops, insisted yesterday he would not step down despite Jordanian and Palestinian backing of the rebels’ decision. Sources close to Irenaios said he would seek to retain his title through legal action in Israeli courts. The overwhelming majority of the Patriarchate’s bishops and clerics turned against Irenaios following his alleged involvement in the covert handover of Church property in the Arab sector of Jerusalem to Jewish investors. Although Irenaios denied the allegations, the deal enraged Palestinian and Jordanian officials – as well as Arab and Greek Patriarchate officials and lay members. The Greek government issued barely veiled calls for Irenaios to resign of his own volition. On Tuesday, a Jordanian government spokesman said Amman – the custodian of Jerusalem’s holy sites – had approved the decision by the Patriarchate’s ruling body, the Holy Synod, to oust Irenaios. Yesterday, Palestinian officials followed suit. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon washed his hands of the matter. «The government of Israel recognized the patriarch, and it is neither an umpire nor a judge between the different parties,» the premier’s office said on Tuesday.