Peace in Jerusalem

Peace has been restored at the Jerusalem Patriarchate, or at least that is the general impression after yesterday’s unanimous election of Theofilos to the patriarchal throne of the Holy City. A centuries-old correlation of forces has preserved the Greek Orthodox character of the Patriarchate, since neither the Jordanians, the Israelis nor the Americans would want a Hierarch closely linked to the Catholic or Russian Orthodox churches. At the same time, a sense of self-preservation led to unanimity among the Hierarchs, since supporters of Irenaios – who is still recognized by Israel as Patriarch of Jerusalem – also voted for Theofilos. The Greek government was most actively involved in the dethronement of Irenaios, even employing the services of the Holy Sepulcher Brotherhood to that end. Of course, none of that will ever be officially confirmed, but one would hope it will not be regarded as a precedent for use by dissidents, for then the government will have contributed to a permanent state of chaos in the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, the new patriarch has said he intends to «jointly administer» with the members of the Holy Sepulcher Brotherhood, indicating the emergence of a new dynamic in the Holy City. Naturally, the Greek government would not have been able to intervene if the situation in Jerusalem had not gotten out of control and if Irenaios had not displayed unprecedented incompetence. It is the duty of everyone concerned, however, to look with favor on yesterday’s events and to support the new Patriarch. The Greek government’s responsibilities are by no means over. It is Theofilos’s job to administer finances with absolute transparency, and it is the Karamanlis government’s job to provide generous financial support. Otherwise, the restoration of calm will be temporary.

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