Orthodox patriarch is enthroned in Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem yesterday swore in Theophilos as its new patriarch in the presence of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, who hailed the move as «a new beginning» for the institution which has had a troubled history in the Holy Land. The Greek delegation attending the ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre also included Archbishop Christodoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis. The latter noted that Theophilos’s enthronement «ends a long and difficult period of upheaval that has afflicted the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher and its faithful.» Theophilos’s enthronement was also witnessed by high-ranking Jordanian and Palestinian government officials but not by their Israeli counterparts, who have refused to recognize Theophilos as the new patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper published yesterday, Theophilos’s scandal-mired predecessor Irenaios thanked the Israeli government for its non-recognition of Theophilos and reiterated his claims to the post of patriarch. Irenaios was ousted from his post in May in the wake of allegations that he leased Church land in a mainly Palestinian area of Israeli-occupied eastern Jerusalem to Jewish investors. Meanwhile the new patriarch pledged to take his new role seriously and restore order to the troubled Church in Jerusalem. «Only under the auspices of the Holy Fathers and the Holy Spirit can we draw the vessel that is the Church out the bay of corruption and deceit,» he said.

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