March 14, 2005

Israeli ruling leaves Greek church in a spin

Financial Times

By Harvey Morris
Published: March 14 2005 02:00 | Last updated: March 14 2005 02:00

In the latest twist in an episode that has rocked the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem to its 16-centuries-old foundations, an Israeli court has ruled that the 2001 election of its patriarch, Irineos I, was illegal.

The case has exposed a bizarre tale of intrigue involving a fugitive drug dealer, missing millions from church coffers and an alleged assassination plot against the patriarch by a priestly rival that has left the Greek-born hierarchy and its Palestinian laity reeling.

Coupled with allegations of illicit land deals and sexual misconduct within the priesthood, the crisis has prompted a senior churchman to warn of a potential split in the Holy Land's richest Christian institution. The Greek patriarchate is Israel's biggest landowner apart from the government, owning prime areas of Jerusalem real estate that include the site of the Israeli parliament.

Posted by kshaw at March 14, 2005 07:09 AM