NEWS

A new act in Irenaios drama

In a last-ditch attempt to cling to the vestiges of power, the former patriarch of Jerusalem, Irenaios, yesterday said he was removing eight members of the Holy Synod from their posts, ignoring the fact that simultaneously, Jordan was officially recognizing the caretaker who replaced him. The Jordanian government is one of three in the region, along with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that have the power to dismiss Irenaios and has done everything short of that in the last few weeks, leaving him out in the cold. Amman yesterday confirmed to the Patriarchate, in writing, its recognition of Cornelius, Metropolitan of Petra, as caretaker. The decision paves the way for elections, in some three weeks, to choose a new patriarch. Irenaios, however, refused to step down and issued a written statement removing eight members of the Holy Synod, including caretaker Cornelius, from power. He said he was doing so because they did not take part in a synod that he had convened on May 6. Irenaios, referring to himself in the letter as the «normal and legal» patriarch, accused his eight opponents of having conspired against him. Jordan confirmed on Saturday that it had withdrawn the diplomatic passport issued to Irenaios. This move came after Greece last month issued him with a new passport changing his title to «former patriarch,» after a rare meeting of the world’s Orthodox leaders in Istanbul decided to withdraw their recognition of him. Irenaios sustained heavy criticism, particularly from Arab Christians, after being linked to the leasing of prime Patriarchate property in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish investors.