Greek Orthodox patriarch unofficially ousted over land deal with Jews

Monday, May 30, 2005 | 
Leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land have ousted the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irineos I, over the long-term lease of prime Church property in Jerusalem's Old City to Jewish groups. Most of the Greek Orthodox flock here is Palestinian, and they are furious over the land deal, charging that it strengthens Israeli claims to the Holy City. As a result, Greek Orthodox clergy chose a temporary replacement for the embattled patriarch. However, Irineos refuses to step down, and under law, Church leaders cannot dismiss him. Israel holds the trump card, and it says it won't withdraw recognition from any Church leader because of a land deal with the Jews. (We’ll have a full page report on the controversy in the June edition of “israel today” magazine, coming out this week.)

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