Jerusalem row shifts to Athens
The hot-tempered Jerusalem Patriarchate row changed location yesterday as riot police were called in to protect the Church’s Athens office after an aide of ousted patriarch Irenaios refused to let the cleric sent to replace him into the building. Archbishop Theofanis tried to gain access to the Exarchate, the Jerusalem Patriarchate’s base in the central Athenian district of Plaka, but found the doors to the church locked. With the approval of the Patriarchate’s three-man legal team, Theofanis called a locksmith to help him open the doors but was foiled by the arrival of Archimandrite Theoktistos, who had until recently been in charge of the Exarchate. A row broke out between the two clerics, with Theoktistos insisting that he was still the true representative of the Patriarchate in Athens – much in the way that Irenaios has insisted he is still patriarch of Jerusalem, despite the world’s Orthodox leaders withdrawing their recognition of him last month after he was linked to the leasing of Patriarchate land in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish investors. Police were called to the courtyard of the Exarchate and the two men were taken to the nearby Acropolis police station, where they filed official complaints against each another. Theoktistos was accused of the illegal use of force, disturbing the peace, taking the law into his own hands and engaging in insulting behavior. Theofanis was accused of illegal use of force, disturbing the peace and causing major damage. Police officers and members of the riot squad were sent to guard the Exarchate. Meanwhile, details emerged yesterday about other property deals that were made during Irenaios’s reign as patriarch. The documents bear the signature of Nikos Papadimas, who was the Patriarchate’s financial manager until January, when he disappeared. He is currently on the run from authorities. Papadimas apparently used the power of attorney granted to him by Irenaios to sign the deals. The former patriarch, now simply recognized as a monk, maintains that he was tricked into giving Papadimas that authority.