Irenaios sparks fear of schism

Fears of a schism in the Jerusalem Patriarchate re-emerged yesterday as the ousted former patriarch, Irenaios, tried to form his own synod and asked the Israeli government to recognize it over the official one. Irenaios compiled a list of 21 clerics – many of whom sit on the Patriarchate’s Holy Synod and last month voted to overthrow him – which he asked the Israeli Justice Ministry to approve. There was no indication last night that it was willing to do so. The Israeli government is one of three in the region, along with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, that have the power to dismiss Irenaios, but so far it has not done so. The world’s Orthodox leaders decided to withdraw their recognition of Irenaios last month after he was linked to the leasing of Patriarchate land in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish investors. But since then, he has sought to claw back power. Meanwhile, a Palestinian claiming to be leasing the Imperial Hotel – one of the properties in question – said he had been contacted by a lawyer representing the new owners, named as Richards Marketing Corporation.

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