NEWS

Irenaios lashes out at Athens

The former Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, deposed by his own bishops over a covert handover of Church land, accused Athens of having contributed to his downfall in a letter made public yesterday. On May 7, senior Patriarchate officials voted to depose Irenaios for his alleged part in the leasing of property in the Arab sector of Jerusalem to Jewish investors. On May 24, the world’s top Orthodox clerics upheld that decision. The Sunday Eleftherotypia newspaper published extracts from a letter, dated May 31, from Irenaios to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, which spoke of a «plot» by Patriarchate officials to depose him. Irenaios, who claims he knew nothing of the land deal, accused the Greek government of «engaging in secret diplomacy… and undermining the Patriarchate.» Irenaios complained that Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis had visited Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and asked him «to replace the patriarch of Jerusalem as that was the wish of the Greek government.»