NEWS

Bishop of Attica fired from post

After a relative lull in the scandals surrounding the Church of Greece, its ruling body yesterday sacked the bishop of Attica after claiming that allegations of financial and sexual misconduct against him were tarnishing the Church and shocking the faithful. Bishop Panteleimon failed to attend yesterday’s meeting of the Holy Synod, which was chaired by Archbishop Christodoulos. The Church suspended Panteleimon on February 4 pending an investigation into claims he was involved in a trial-fixing ring consisting of judges, lawyers and churchmen, owned shares in offshore companies and had made lewd suggestions to a young man over the phone – after tapes of the conversation were made public. He was also indicted in April to stand trial on criminal embezzlement charges for allegedly siphoning off funds in excess of 100 million drachmas (300,000 euros) from the collection boxes of the convent of Ossios Ephraim in Nea Makri, eastern Attica, in 1996 and 1997. An inspection of the former bishop’s finances revealed that he holds over 3 million euros in bank accounts. Panteleimon denies the charges. In a statement, the Holy Synod said yesterday that it decided «the serious matters which involve him still persist» and that he should be dismissed from his position. He is the second bishop to be sacked in recent months after a number of scandals involving the Church ballooned at the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the Holy Synod of the Jerusalem Patriarchate met yesterday and set August 22 as the date when an election will be held to vote in a new patriarch to replace the ousted Irenaios. It also dismissed two bishops and an archimandrite, saying that they had not fully supported the Synod when it convened to push for the ousting of Irenaios in May. Irenaios was replaced by Cornelius, Bishop of Petra, on May 30, after the former was charged with leasing prime Patriarchate property in Jerusalem to Jewish investors.