Talks in Jerusalem raise hopes

A meeting in Jerusalem yesterday between Greece’s Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos and the Palestinian Christian Affairs Council was described by patriarch officials as «constructive.» The news was a relief to Greek government officials who were concerned by speculation earlier this week that Jordanian and Palestinian authorities are considering withdrawing their recognition of Theophilos. The Palestinian council did not confirm that it would continue to recognize Theophilos but «showed goodwill,» according to patriarchate officials. According to sources, the Palestinians asked for a full update of the patriarchate’s property in the wake of a scandal in 2005, when then patriarch Irenaios was deposed for allegedly selling Church property in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem to Israeli companies. Palestinians also pressed for the creation of a mixed council, including Orthodox laymen alongside clerics, to oversee the patriarchate’s assets. Sources said that Jordanian authorities are less likely to be flexible in talks. Theophilos is due in Amman tomorrow.