NEWS

Irenaios is left with no place to go

AMMAN (AP) – Jordan confirmed on Saturday that it has withdrawn the diplomatic passport issued to Irenaios, the embattled former Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, but denied reports that it had revoked the churchman’s nationality. Interior Ministry spokesman Faisal Al-Qadi did not say when the passport was taken. The move, coupled with Greece’s issuance last month of a new passport that changes Irenaios’s title to «former patriarch,» increases the already fierce pressure on Irenaios to resign. For the past three months, Irenaios has been embroiled in a controversy over the long-term leasing of choice Church property to Jews trying to expand their presence in disputed Jerusalem. Reports of the leases have aroused the furor of the Palestinians, who make up most of the Orthodox congregation, because they claim the eastern sector of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Irenaios has repeatedly declared he would not step aside, even though the controversy has prevented him from wielding the powers of a patriarch. World Orthodox leaders, in a special meeting in Istanbul last month, decided they would no longer recognize him and Church leaders in Jerusalem have selected a temporary replacement. Legally, though, Church leaders cannot dismiss him: Only the governments in areas where his congregation lives – Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – have the power to do that, by withdrawing recognition of him. Irenaios has received no public support from any of the three governments. [Meanwhile, the Christian Orthodox spiritual leader Patriarch Vartholomaios and the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, met at the Patriarchate in Istanbul on Friday to set a new course for their relations in the post-Irenaios era. It was the first meeting between the two men since a 10-month dispute over suzerainty was settled just over a year ago. «Our relations were always good and will become even better,» said Christodoulos after the meeting, held to mark the patriarch’s name day and which was also attended by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis.]