25 May, 2005
ISTANBUL 25/5/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)
The overwhelming majority of the Orthodox Synod decided to no longer recognize Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos, after convening here on Tuesday.
The Synod's decision allows the three-member panel, currently in charge of the Jerusalem Patriarchate Synod, to proceed with the election of a new patriarch.
Metropolitan of Caesarea Vassilios said that the panel would proceed immediately.
Irineos was among the first to leave Phanar and did not make any statements.
The Palestinian Authority said it would support any decision made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar and the Orthodox Synod, in a letter sent to the Synod from Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie's office.
According to the letter, the investigative committee established by the Palestinian Authority in order to look into the alleged sale or long-term leasing of Jerusalem Patriarchate properties to Jewish interests, has run into delays due to huge obstacles.
Finally, the Palestinian Authority stated in its letter that Irineos has cooperated with the committee and has authorized it to void related contracts.
Irineos has officially lost his title of Jerusalem Patriarch following the decision of the Orthodox Synod to not recognize him, after convening in Phanar on Tuesday.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos read the synod's decision, saying that after extensive deliberation, the synod decided to address a "brotherly request" to Irineos to resign.
Vartholomeos said that this was requested of Irineos as "a sacrifice for the good of the Church." However, "Irineos refused and the Orthodox Synod decided to denounce him," he said.
In response to related questions, Vartholomeos said that these developments mean that Irineos is now 'former' patriarch of Jerusalem, while the three-member panel, currently in charge of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, has been asked to appoint a locum tenant and to proceed with the election of a new patriarch.
Upon his departure from Phanar, Irineos told reporters "I am still the patriarch."
Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis called on all involved parties to respect the decision made by the Orthodox Synod in Phanar on Tuesday regarding non-recognition of Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos.
"The Orthodox Synod, which convened in Phanar today under the wise presidency of His Eminence Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to examine with a high sense of duty, as is called for in such circumstances, the problem regarding the Jerusalem Patriarchate, based its decisions - which must be accepted by all - on holy rules and statutes," Skandalakis stated.
"It goes without saying that anyone who differs or does not abide [by these decisions] will be exclusively responsible for any negative developments," he added.
Source: Athens News Agency