NEWS

Another bell due to toll for Irenaios

Weekend reports said Jordan is poised to take the final step in approving the ouster, by his own bishops, of the scandal-mired Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, who yesterday launched legal action against a former associate in a bid to clear his name. Patriarch Irenaios was effectively deposed on May 6 by the overwhelming majority of his senior bishops, following allegations the Church head was involved in the highly controversial handover of Patriarchate land in the Arab sector of Jerusalem to Jewish investors. Irenaios has denied any knowledge of the deal and refuses to accept his dismissal. The rebel churchmen’s move was formally approved by Jordanian and Palestinian officials last week. Amman has the final say on the matter as guardian of Jerusalem’s holy sites, and sources in Jerusalem said over the weekend that Jordanian King Abdallah has sanctioned his government’s decision on Irenaios. There was no official announcement from Jordan. Meanwhile, yesterday Irenaios filed a complaint with Israeli police against his former financial officer, Greek national Nikos Papadimas, who is understood to have signed the property handover before disappearing four months ago – allegedly with $800,000 in Church funds. The Patriarch said Papadimas obtained power of attorney for the deal «by trickery.» Irenaios was due to visit Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios – with whom his relations are frosty – in Istanbul today to discuss the situation, but it is unclear whether he will go.