Sunday, May 15, 2005

Haaretz weighs in on the 'Palestinianization' of the Jerusalem Patriarchate

I heard an American make reference today to the fact that the Church of Jerusalem has kicked out its Greek patriarch -- a patriarch installed by the meddling (not the speaker's word, but the gist) of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople. Well, that's one way of looking at it.

A columnist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has referred to the ouster as the "Palestinianization of the church."
Irineos did what was done by his predecessors - Deodorus, Benedictus and Timotheus. The Greek Orthodox Church, the largest and richest of the Christian churches in our region, owning properties valued in the tens of millions of dollars, has leased and sold quite a bit of property to Israelis since 1948. Among those properties are valuable real estate like Saint Simon in Jerusalem, a large part of the Katamonim, Liberty Bell Park and the apartment houses and hotels around it, parts of Mishkenot Yamin Moshe, land in Caesarea, land around St. George's Church in Lod, land in Nazareth, Haifa and along the banks of the Kinneret. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis live on these properties, which were leased for 99 years.

That is why the PLO, ever since it was established, has regarded the intimate relationship between Israel and the heads of the Greek Orthodox Church as a target for disruption. And since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority a decade ago, the PA has made efforts to penetrate the ranks of the church in order to prevent the transfer of property to Israeli hands.

The writer, a reserve colonel who studies Palestinian society, says that the ouster of Patriarch Irineos is the result of an effort by the Palestinian Authority to unify Palestinians -- Christian and non-Christian -- on the basis of nationalism in an effort to evict the Jews (in this case, literally) from the Land of Israel.

His comments accord with the public statements of Atalla Hanna, who seems to be working the crowds to get himself installed as patriarch.

The Patriarch of Constantinople has shown himself capable of playing hardball to maintain congregations outside the strictures of his Turkish capital even in the United States, and as a general principle, the bishop should be of the people.

As a general principle, also, though, the bishop should be opposed to sending youngsters to blow up themselves and people having a peaceful dinner in a restaurant.

This post is also available at Blogger News Network.

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