Irenaios makes reappearance

JERUSALEM (AP) The new Greek patriarch of the Holy Land stayed away from the annual Christmas gathering at the Israeli president’s residence yesterday because the Church’s ousted former patriarch also was invited, a spokesman said. «The Church cannot have two patriarchs,» said the Greek Orthodox Church secretary, Archbishop Aristarchos. The current patriarch, Theophilos, replaced Irenaios after the latter was ousted in May amid allegations of leasing Church property in Jerusalem’s Old City to Jewish settler groups. Israel has not recognized Irenaios’s removal or the Church’s election of Theophilos. Theophilos’s invitation addressed him simply as «bishop,» Aristarchos said. Theophilos has petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court for the state to recognize him because Church rules require governmental approval in areas where his flock lives. For Theophilos, this includes Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. The latter two recognize him.