The world’s Orthodox Church leaders yesterday upheld the overthrow, by his own bishops, of scandal-mired Jerusalem Patriarch Irenaios, one day after the senior churchman defied a final appeal to voluntarily step down.
“We had to make a very sad decision concerning the Jerusalem Patriarchate,” Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, who convened the rare meeting of senior representatives from the world’s main Orthodox Churches – which Irenaios attended – told journalists after the decision was announced.
Irenaios has been accused of involvement in the politically explosive, covert handover of Church land in the Arab sector of Jerusalem to Jewish investors. Although Irenaios insists he is innocent – calling on God to cut off his hands should he be lying – rebel bishops raised the necessary majority in the Patriarchate’s ruling body, the Holy Synod, to depose him early this month. This decision has since been confirmed by the Jordanian and Palestinian governments.