Glint of hope for Irenaios on land deal

The Holy Synod of the Jerusalem Patriarchate said yesterday that the process to elect a new Patriarch to replace its ousted former head, Irenaios, will begin in just over two weeks, but the ex-Patriarch was cast a lifeline by a Palestinian Cabinet committee deeming him innocent of involvement in the property deals that got him dismissed. The Patriarchate’s Holy Synod said a special council would convene on July 20 compiling a list of candidates to replace Irenaios, with the aim of naming a successor by the end of August. Irenaios was axed by his own bishops on May 6. Less than three weeks later, his dismissal was confirmed during a rare meeting of the world’s Orthodox leaders in Istanbul. Since then, the Jordanian government – one of three in the region, along with Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that have the power to dismiss Irenaios – has withdrawn his diplomatic passport. Irenaios was heavily criticized, especially by Arab Christians, after being linked to the leasing of prime Patriarchate property in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish investors. However, it emerged yesterday that the Palestinian Authority appears to have decided that Irenaios was not to blame for the property deals after all. [In its report, the Palestinian Cabinet committee wrote that it found no evidence that Irenaios was aware of the property deals. «He did not take part in the transactions at any stage and did not receive any money,» the committee wrote in the report, published Monday in the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper, the AP news agency reported. The committee also maintained the transactions were illegal because they were not signed by the church’s leadership body, or synod. The committee alleged Irenaios was the victim of a conspiracy by leading clerics and Israeli extremists, who allegedly were trying – each for their own motives – to oust him. The Patriarchate said in its statement that, to the best of its knowledge, the report in Al-Quds was not the official Palestinian Authority report, but a report drafted by two lawyers acting on Irenaios’s behalf.]

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