Caretaker patriarch to be chosen

One day before the world’s top Orthodox clerics convene in Istanbul to discuss the scandal-mired Jerusalem patriarch’s ouster by his own bishops, the Jordanian government yesterday invited rebel churchmen in the holy city to appoint a temporary replacement for Patriarch Irenaios. Jordan’s Interior Minister, Awni Yarfas, formally informed the three-member temporary administrative committee appointed by the rebel churchmen – who deposed Irenaios earlier this month over the covert handover of Church land in the Arab sector of Jerusalem to Jewish investors – that Jordanian King Abdallah had sanctioned their decision on Friday. «On the basis of this decision, we hope that you will proceed with the process of electing a temporary caretaker… and inform us (on the result) so that we can go ahead with the necessary legal procedures,» Yarfas said in a letter made public by the Athens News Agency yesterday. Meanwhile, Orthodox leaders will meet in Istanbul today to discuss the situation, following an invitation last week by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. Irenaios – who denies any knowledge of the land deal, a politically explosive issue in the strife-torn Middle East – is expected to attend.