April 2, 2012

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Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos - A victim of Factions

by Athanassios Angelopoulos
Newspaper - To Paron tis Kyriakis

A shocking analysis from Professor of Ecclesiastic History and of the History and Modern Life of the First-born Patriarchates of the East at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Athanassios Angelopoulos, says that there were reasons of great interest related to the proprietorship and the financial regime of the Patriarchate and dethronement of the Legal and Canonical Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos, and on the election and enthronement of Patriarch Theophilos of Tabor to replace him. And what is more... he claims that the crisis was triggered from Athens!

“The problem examined herein focuses on the entire process of dethronement of the Legal and Canonical Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos, on the one hand, and on the election and enthronement of Patriarch Theophilos of Tabor to replace the deposed Patriarch Irineos, on the other. The primary causes that led to the issue of the change of Patriarch are to be traced by the specialised researcher, within the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. These relate to personal ambitions, behaviours and tactics, directly linked to the filling of the Patriarch's throne following the death of Patriarch Diodoros.

Reasons of great interests, related to the proprietorship and the financial regime of the Patriarchate (purchase and sale of Patriarchate's land), speculations on which are beyond the scope of this report, have triggered the gradual formation and promotion of an opposition group by the defeated claimants of the throne, who are now lethal opponents of the new Patriarch Irineos, enthroned after the death of Diodoros. Their rationale is based on accusations for real, or even fictitious, financial scandals related to purchase and sale transactions, mainly in connection with “arrogant” behavior on behalf of the Patriarch and his immediate entourage. This rallying against the Patriarch aimed to undermine the throne of Irineos and to overthrow him, should the circumstances allow, so as to prevent the ascent to the throne of one of its claimants, particularly on the part of a claimant with strong political strings in Athens, yet unsuccessful so far.

The crisis was triggered by Athens, by reason of an article published in Maariv, a daily newspaper of Jerusalem, and reproduced mainly by journalistic and television media. The government of Athens was taken by surprise and acted hastily under the pressure of television broadcasts and media reports, and in the context of the scandals of the [so-called] para-judiciary network. Also, because of the negative impact of the whole issue on public opinion, as well as for its own reasons, the government of Athens allied with the group of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre opposing the Patriarch, instead of mediating in a reasonable, targeted and insisting manner, with the sole aim to bridge the gap between the opposing parties and thus to prevent the involvement of the three local governments in a potential new Patriarchal election, as the author had recommended in writing, following an official request. This widened the fissure within the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, to the detriment of the Patriarch, who was unable to contain the crisis, despite the fact that the purchase and sale scandals attributed to him were never proven. Indeed, such scandals remained merely in the sphere of journalistic impressions and of ill-advised policies against the Patriarch. On the contrary, the procedures aimed at the recognition of Theophilos by Israel are based on the completion of pending purchase and sale transactions, both old and new, by Theophilos. In other words, the agreements invoked by the opponents of Patriarch Irineos, in order to dethrone him. Given that the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem extends to all three local political authorities, i.e. to the State of Israel on whose territory the seat of the Patriarchate is located; to Jordan; and to the Palestinian Authority, it was reasonable that the crisis would be exploited by the governments involved -all three parties having vested interests vis-a-vis the Patriarchate, in situ.

All other reasons excluded, the whole process, from the very beginning to the final recognition of the new Patriarch (i.e. from the canonical and legal vacancy of the throne until the ceremonial act of enthronement) is the legal privilege of the territorial states, within the limits of which the Patriarchate exists and operates, legally and canonically, as an independent and self-governed religious institution on the basis of international agreements.

The position of the state of Israel

The state of Israel, due to its proper interests vested in the existence of the seat of the Patriarchate in the old historical city of Jerusalem within its territory, arguably and reasonably keeps abreast of the new situation. Also, it abstains from ill-advised acts on the issue during the last three years, aiming at collecting its proper gains, based on the precedent of Jordan and of the Palestinian Authority, before deciding on how to revoke and subsequently provide recognition.

Israel is fully cognizant and has indeed witnessed an operation to impose a new state of affairs pertaining to the statal privilege to recognise any new Patriarch of Jerusalem, by ignoring the government of Israel.

Which was then the development of the situation during the problematic change of Patriarch in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, by ignoring Israel as outlined above, so that the latter is now forced to provide recognition and at the same time negotiate on the issue, vis-a-vis Greece?

(a) With regard to the revocation of the recognition of Patriarch Irineos:

(1) Revocation of the recognition Irineos, based on the applicable laws (i.e. the pertinent Ottoman law, and the laws of Jordan and Israel), which was requested by the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, was not accepted by the government of Israel, and no official document was ever released on such a revocation, contrary to the one released, e.g. by the King of Jordan, in 2005. This means that the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre ought to seek, through its Synod, the lawful revocation of the recognition, by means of an official decree. The situation required patience and formulation of arguments to the Israeli government, to enable action, and not, as it were, an effort to bypass the Israeli government after such a short period of time. The path taken has led us, unpredictably, to the current fever of negotiations in a give-and-take, or rather in a give-for-taking, climate.

This is even more so, because the two other governments rushed to revoke the recognition of Irineos, of course following diplomatic and political pressure from Athens and on the basis of offsets. This is not a good precedent, at least not one that Israel would ignore in view of its interests. Given the lack of a formal revocation of the recognition of Patriarch Irineos by the third local contracting party, any further action to violently elect a new Patriarch is both illegal and uncanonical. The whole process of the Patriarchal election is deficient, as pertains to its statal recognition. The Patriarch, being a religious superordinate institution, is recognised and granted the appropriate status by the territorial state and, in this sense, he is tenured for life on the basis of both the religious and the secular law of order. Therefore, it is by no means a simple matter and process for the responsible body, i.e. the Synod of the Patriarchate, to proceed to the act of replacement, before the revocation of the recognition of another person filling the throne and the honoured title of the Patriarch. Of course, this applies all the more so to the State.

(2) The revocation of the recognition by the State entails a second action, i.e. the declaration of the vacancy of the throne, legally and canonically, through the recognition of a vicar. This path was not taken either, in conformity with the first option. The consent of Jordan and of the Palestinian Authority to this effect would suffice for the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre.

(b) With regard to the legality of the vicar, following the assumed vacancy of the Patriarchal throne:

(1) The person appointed as vicar (i.e. the Bishop of Petra, co-candidate and twice unsuccessful claimant of the Patriarchal throne, at the time of Irineos and now of Theophilos) has requested in writing his recognition as vicar by the state of Israel. The state gave no furtherance to the document filed, since it had not issued any revocation of the recognition of Patriarch Irineos, so as to be in a position to acknowledge a vacuum of patriarchal power and to approve the appointment of a vicar to hold the patriarchal election, since this is a vicar's exclusive role.

(2) Plainly, the Bishop of Petra assumed and pursued the vicar's duties, instead of waiting for the reply he had requested, before exercising such duties. And the question is: why did he request statal approval for becoming Vicar, without waiting for a reply, even a delayed one? Quite simply because his intention was to exercise the vicar's duties, in any case, regardless of any reply whatsoever, obviously in the confidence that such a reply would be negative and of course delayed. There are similar precedents. In this case, however, he should dare, from the very beginning and, with the help from Athens... who dares wins.

(c) With regard to the despatch of the list of eligible persons to the government of Israel for approval:

(1) The list of eligible persons is lawfully despatched to the government of Israel, so as to be approved and returned with pertinent remarks, if any. This practice was followed also during the election of Irineos. The electoral process was pursued, and ended with the election of Theophilos as Patriarch, even though the government had not returned said list. This alone, is a solid argument in the hands of the Israeli government to impose its own demands and offsets.

(2) All this happened despite the reaction on the part of certain members of the Synod gathered to elect a Patriarch, during the electoral process. The reaction was based on the grounds that the process itself would be deficient, if the list of eligible persons had not been returned in advance. The legal view that prevailed was that of a lawyer from Athens, who was uncanonically and unduly present at the electoral process, positing that the return of the approved list by the two other governments (of Jordan, mainly, and the Palestinian Authority) would suffice. It should be mentioned here that Jordan's approval was made possible with the intense diplomatic involvement of Athens and that part of this involvement was the despatch of the lawyer to Jerusalem. The Greek side had falsely posited that Israel's concession would not be necessary in advance; yet it has been struggling ever since to obtain this concession and has been unduly forced to offer onerous offsets.

(d) With regard to the enthronement, after the electoral process:

(1) Given that the electoral process as such is exclusively an internal ecclesiastic and canonical matter, no involvement is permitted from any secular authority whatsoever; however, a government representative attends the enthronement process. The enthronement of Theophilos was not attended by a representative of the Israeli government, given that the legal procedure was not honoured vis-a-vis the State of Israel. The latter is well aware of all the facts, and committed to exploit them, in its own interest.

(2) In view and in witness of all of the above, the Archbishop of Tabor opted to recourse to the Supreme Court of Israel, following his (disputed) election, demanding the recognition of his election by said state. He also complained for the inactivity of the Israeli government in this respect, beyond a reasonable waiting period. Following a series of postponements, the Court was convened anew on December 26, 2007, to finalise its ruling. In the meantime, the government had appointed, since March, 2005, an inter-ministerial committee to examine the subject-matter. The committee concluded with the recommendation that the government should recognise the election of Theophilos and impose onerous offsets, related to the major issue of the purchase and sale deeds, both pending and new.

(e) General Conclusion on the issue of the lawful recognition of the Patriarch:

(1) Consequently, and having regard to the facts outlined herewith, which are all proven and known to the government of Israel, for the State of Israel, Irineos is still the only legal Patriarch of Jerusalem in the territory of Israel and is entitled to protection and pertinent honour by that state, as an equal and law-abiding citizen, until that state adopts a definite resolution on the subject-matter.

(2) The statal deed of the recognition, pervading from the commencement of the whole electoral process (legal vacancy following death, resignation or revocation of the recognition, as in this case, or following approval of a vicar, approval of the list of eligible persons and official representation of the government at the enthronement ceremony), conforms fully with the case of Irineos. Theophilos, Archbishop of Tabor, bounded to the Patriarchal throne of Jerusalem, without respecting and strictly abiding with the terms of the State as pertains to recognition, during the whole process of the new Patriarch's election. He became Patriarch in Israel, despite the applicable and enforced law of Israel on the Patriarchal election and despite the fact that, when asked by the inter-ministerial committee which law applies for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and contrary to his initial statement that Jerusalem was subject to a special regime, he restated his reply after the committee's persistent question, and posited that the Patriarchate was subject to the laws of the State of Israel. This explains why Irineos is invited to attend the official ceremonies of the government and the state, as the legal and canonical Patriarch, at least until today.

The Issue of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, since 2005, according to the canonical order and ecclesiastic traditions

(a) This is not an issue in the state's direct interests, in terms of secular power. It is however, as aforementioned, an internal matter involving the local Orthodox Churches - currently 14. Their seats are, hierarchically, as follows: Constantinople (Istanbul), Alexandria, Antioch (nowadays located in Damascus), Jerusalem, Moscow, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, Tbilisi, Nicosia, Athens, Warsaw, Tirana, Prague.

(b) It is however indirectly to the interest of the state, everywhere, that all is done properly, on the basis of internal rules and ecclesiastic regulations, in any Church and regardless of its location, so as to prevent conflict. This is particularly true with regard to the four primary Patriarchates of the East, the so-called First-born Patriarchates, i.e. of Constantinople, Alexandria, Damascus and Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, things here became even worse, because it all happened in a factional or conspiratorial manner, locally and on the basis of political terms, and above all in a climate of violence vis-a-vis the pan-Orthodox system of administration. And here is the proof.

(1) Locally, in Jerusalem, during the first stage of the creation of a faction against Patriarch Irineos:

(a) The main feature of the processes within the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, was the rallying of members of the Synod, outside its context, against the person presiding at the Synod, i.e. the Patriarch.

(b) According to ecclesiastic rules, which are very strict in this matter, the only instrument that is both entitled and obliged to consider internal matters such as conflicts and any accusations whatsoever against the Patriarch or other members of the Synod and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, is the 18-member Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

(c) Patriarch Irineos convened Synods, legally and canonically, as soon as the crisis surfaced (late 2004 - early 2005), in order to examine the situation. However, the arch-priests that had rallied against the Patriarch, did not attend these meetings. The members that did attend, accused the absentees, canonically during the meetings, of factionism, sectarianism and disobedience. However, even some of the Synod members attending the meetings, who had in the meantime rallied around the opponents of the Patriarch for reasons of personal interest, participated also in the actions they had previously accused during the meetings, in other words became part of the faction and of the sect. One of them was the Archbishop of Tabor, Theophilos.

(2) On a pan-Orthodox level, in Constantinople:

(a) In view of this anomalous situation within the Patriarchate, the only canonical and ecclesiastic solution would be to convene a pan-Orthodox Synod. Indeed, this is what happened, albeit with many uncanonical irregularities, in Constantinople and under the presidency of the Ecumenical Patriarch, located in this city ever since it was founded.

(b) Unfortunately, even the pan-Orthodox Synod was unable to provide a solution, on the basis of peacemaking and compromise, as the representatives of local Churches and Patriarch Irineos himself rightfully wanted, according to the ecclesiastic rules. This was however against the drift formed by his opponents, who had in the meantime become a majority, through factionism and not in the context of the Synod and with the support of the government of Greece and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. They were a majority born out of faction and conspiracy, and not the result of a synodic process under the self-evident presidency of the Patriarch, who could be called to account before the Synod, by its members. However, they all kept dead silence at the Synod, instead of standing up to the Patriarch.

(c) For a series of reasons, that are foreign to the ecclesiastic and canonical normal course of affairs, the pan-Orthodox Synod failed its mission, once more ceding authority to solve the problem to the Local Church of Jerusalem. Also, it assigned the majority of the members opposing the Patriarch, which it named Synod (naturally without a Patriarch and a president of the Synod) with the task of resorting to the Courts against the Patriarch and placed him in a state of unsociableness, i.e. interrupting the spiritual relations between the pan-Orthodox System and Irineos. This last action rendered the majority of the Synod “canonical”, in spite of having been the product of a faction, as mentioned above.

(d) The rationale of the stance adopted by the pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople (May 2005) vis-a-vis the person of Patriarch Irineos was unfair, contradictory and therefore incomprehensible, and, furthermore, was the result of a vote, not won by a clear majority. The pan-Orthodox Synod asked the Patriarch to submit his resignation, as an act of self-sacrifice, without holding a proper and canonical trial, as clearly set forth by the rules of the Church, so that he would be canonically subject to sacrifice. No specific evidence was presented at the Synod of Constantinople, since there was no evidence, proving that Patriarch Irineos had sold plots of the Patriarchate in the Old City (Jaffa) in order to personally collect the income from such sales or negotiations (NB: this was the journalistic and political indictment). Therefore, the pan-Orthodox Synod stated in its official communiqué that it was not convened as a Court. However, its ruling was condemnatory for the Patriarch, since it aligned with his opponents and placed him in a state of unsociableness. Judging from its outcome, the Synod functioned essentially as a Court. However, failing to declare that it was transformed into a Court, it suggested that it was a Court indeed, albeit uncanonical, with all the manipulations that followed. This is because a judiciary power, especially if this power is turned against the Patriarch, ought to be founded on a different basis. The requirement in this case was to persuade Patriarch Irineos to submit his resignation and provide an easy solution to the whole issue. The solution of the resignation was a condition set forth by the Greek government. However, Patriarch Irineos declined the accusations before the pan-Orthodox Synod. He presented evidence, proving that his actions were actually in the opposite direction: instead of selling property, he had increased the Patriarchate's property with new purchases of real estate, and had safeguarded such property from trespassers. He also pleaded that the purchases and sales of which he was accused had never taken place, since they had not been evidenced at the Synod. Indeed, it can be proven that these purchase and sale transactions are either incomplete (because of the infamous Papadimas) and must be completed by Theophilos, if he is ever to be recognised by Israel. This was obvious during his hearing with the two plenipotentiary attorneys before the inter-ministerial committee, in July 2007.

(e) However, since the decision had already been taken behind the scenes, even before the Synod was convened, the arguments of Irineos fell on deaf ears. In spite of that, the result of the vote was critical. On a total of 14 members of the pan-Orthodox System, only 7, including the vote of the President, i.e. half of the members, demanded the resignation of Irineos without a trial (these were the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Moscow, Athens, Tirana, Bucharest and Nicosia). Of the remaining 7 members, three did not attend the Synod (Belgrade, Sofia, Prague) and four, including Irineos, abstained from the vote or requested compromise (Damascus, Tbilisi, Jerusalem and Warsaw). The result of the vote was taken to be a majority, while in fact it was a tie vote. The vote of the Patriarch of Jerusalem was not counted by those who issued the official Communiqué. This was bad, too bad. Ironically, no Court was convened.

(3) Locally in Jerusalem, second phase:

(a) After everyone returned to Jerusalem, both the Patriarch and the Synod, and the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre altogether, they all contributed to the worsening of the sect and the fissure - at first, those who had formed the faction: it was a faction indeed, according to ecclesiastic rules, as proven by two specialised professors who gave their expert opinion in this regard, or a conspiracy, according to the secular definitions of a faction.

(b) The opponents of the Patriarch formed a 12-member Court. Its composition was however irregular, illegal and anti-ecclesiastic for two reasons: one substantial, pertaining to the legality of its composition, and one moral reason.

First, bishops with a flock were excluded from participating in the composition of the Court, despite the fact that they are ex officio entitled to participate, based on the regulations and the laws. For instance, the Bishop of Nazareth was excluded (his flock is the largest in his region) because he had declared orally and in writing his faith and loyalty to his Patriarch. Only this act of exclusion from the composition of the Court proves that it was a court of factionists and outlaws, i.e. a legally faulty institution because of its improper composition.

Second, because the Court was presided over by the principal claimant of the Patriarchal Throne, during the election of Irineos. It was the Bishop of Petra, who had unsuccessfully claimed the throne, and had been defeated by the canonically and legally elected Irineos. The question is, on which moral grounds could he, objectively, serve justice, and indeed ecclesiastic justice? Could he not, simply, limit himself to the synodic presidency? It was he, the person appointed as vicar following the condemnation of Irineos and in said climate of morally and canonically illegitimate conditions, who had requested from Israel his recognition as vicar. In such a parody of Court procedures, it was natural for Irineos to abstain and disregard all summons.

(c) This marks the critical point for the government of Israel: How could this government legitimise such a vicar? Rightly, it did not grant such a legitimisation, because had it done so, it would also have to approve and to accept all the religious and ecclesiastic actions of an ecclesiastic court that, judging from the way they were pursued, were anomalous and malevolent, to say the least. The actions of an illegal and immoral court, in terms of both its composition and morality. Had it granted approval to the illegal and uncanonical Court, Israel would subsequently have to agree with the events that followed, during the election, enthronement and recognition of a new Patriarch. The government of Israel chose to wait, and to pursue its own interests and aims, on the basis of the proprietorship, and thus to facilitate the purchase and sale trasnsactions vis-a-vis all third parties.

The solution to the legal and religious deadlock for Israel

(a) With regard to the issue of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, created and analysed as above, Israel has steadily, for almost three years already, supported and safeguarded legality, on its own territory and in the person of Patriarch Irineos. In this way, it also respects and indirectly supports the ecclesiastic and religious order, vis-a-vis all the persons and institutions that formed a faction against the Patriarch, so as to force him to resign, for reasons other than those provided for by the laws (indeed, two are the reasons justifying resignation of the Patriarch, according to the 1958 law of Jordan: first, perfidy to the Christian Orthodox truths and, second, reasons of physical or mental health). Such reasons were of a financial nature (purchase and sale transactions), i.e. deeds for which the opposing members are also responsible, having been involved in them for years, even more that the Patriarch Irineos had lived for more than 20 years in Athens, as Exarch of the Holy Sepulchre in Greece, alienated from the property and financial arrangements and developments at the seat of the Patriarchate.

(b) The government of Israel has two options with regard to the Issue of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem:

(1) The official declaration by all the citizens of Israel of the respect for the rule of law, on all levels and in all institutions, both political and religious.

(2) If the declaration of respect for the rule of law would be too costly and might prove burdensome for reasons in the judgement of the government, and in order to safeguard its interests, Israel would have to resort to the principle of political resolve, construed in addition to the rule of law. Based on such a political resolve, and for reasons of general interest, Israel would recognise Theophilos, Archbishop of Tabor, as Patriarch, a posteriori, under certain conditions. Besides, this is what the other two parties did also, with the intervention of Greece's Foreign Minister. One of these reasons, fundamental in terms of respect for the rule of law and of morality in general, would be to regulate also the future of Patriarch Irineos, as a former Patriarch, with the provision of all the conditions for a safe living, as set forth by the law and the decisions of the government, safeguarding the location and way of his living and allowing him to exercise his personal ecclesiastic needs and duties, within Israel, and in a manner analogous to his social and administrative status. This second option depends also on the interested person's willingness to accept and to submit his resignation. The Greek government suggested a similar solution, acting through persons enjoying premiership status, during the pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople. Irineos declined the offer, because he had not committed any crime consciously forcing him to accept the resignation. What is more, he could not accept as such a reason the purchase and sale transactions (because nothing had been approved by the Synod), which now Theophilos admits he will pursue, so as to obtain recognition. For reasons of principle, as he had declared, Irineos would rather alienate himself completely, instead of accepting to resign.

The author's position on the issue, from the viewpoint of an ecclesiastic historian

(a) The institution of the Patriarch, in the context of the Orthodox Church, is the supreme duty, both spiritually and administratively. It is a duty connected with life tenure, an assumption complying with the ecclesiastic traditions and one that is accepted under normal circumstances by the territorial states. It should be mentioned that, especially the Patriarchs of the First-born Patriarchates of the East (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch - now seated in Damascus - and Jerusalem) enjoy supreme religious prestige, because the institution of the First-born Patriarchs was ratified by Ecumenical Synods of the first Christian Church, during the first seven centuries AD.

Therefore, when it comes to dethroning a Patriarch endowed with such a religious, administrative and historical prestige, the procedures followed should be absolutely impeccable, both legally and canonically. As we have proven, in this case, the dethronement of Patriarch Irineos, and the enthronement of another Patriarch, Theophilos, are both substantially deficient and faulty.

Israel's responsibility and involvement in the issue of the change of Patriarch in Jerusalem is that this state, acting through its government, has a right and responsibility in the deed revoking or non-revoking the recognition of Patriarch Irineos, on the one hand, and, on the other, in the deed recognising or not recognising Archbishop of Tabor Theophilos. The government of Israel has proceeded to neither of the above actions, for almost three years already.

It proceeded neither to the revocation of the Patriarchal honour, nor to the recognition of this honour in the person of Theophilos, despite the pressure exercised to this end by Greece's foreign policy, which has become an active part of the problem because of its hasty and ill-fated diplomatic involvement, both within the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, primarily, and, as a consequence, vis-a-vis the three, competent local governments. This is how things are, in precise legal terms. The government of Israel is therefore pressed to proceed to the recognition of Theophilos, and not to leave him lingering in the territory of Israel. In a wider sense, the issue of Irineos is also still pending, not just for Israel, but for Greece and the pan-Orthodox System as well, given that he was, anyhow and indisputably at a certain stage, the canonical Patriarch of Jerusalem.

However, in the history of the Church, and more specifically in the history of the First-born Patriarchates of the East, there are four typical examples, as follows:

First, when the tenure of Archbishops or Patriarchs is contested, they resign regardless of the unfairness vis-a-vis their persons, simply for reasons of consciousness and sensitivity, thus easing their minds. We may cite for instance the typical case of Archbishop of Constantinople and Saint of the Orthodox Church, St. Gregory the Theologian (4th century AD) who resigned for having been contested.

Second example: Archbishops or Patriarchs, contested by the secular power and the body of the Hierarchy, i.e. of co-bishops, refuse to resign, resorting to the basic dogmatic and ecclesiastic principle, that they were elected and enthroned through the Grace of God, invoked by the electors, during the electoral process. We may cite for instance the great Saint of the Christian Church, St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople. The royal authority, the palace of Constantinople, and the majority of bishops had officially and insistently demanded his resignation, to overthrow him for having castigated the behaviour of the political and Episcopal officers. Not having resigned, he faced exile and hardship of all kinds, always thanking and worshipping God, for all the suffering and unfairness he was experiencing.

Third example: There have been cases of Patriarchs, during the Ottoman rule in the East, i.e. in the regions of the four First-born Patriarchates, who were forced to resign because of the general political and ecclesiastic conditions, despite being wronged, and who were later recalled to the same or to another Patriarchal throne, by the same persons who had initially forced them to resign, because the conditions had in the meantime changed in their favour. Moreover, this applies not just once, but twice or thrice, to the same person.

Fourth example: There have been cases of Patriarchs, even in the very same Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who were forced to abandon their throne under the pressure of the entire Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, and by political actors during the Ottoman rule. However, these Patriarchs resisted, insisting to prove their rightfulness and, ultimately, the political authority that had recognised them and revoked its recognition, aligned with them, forcing the opposing members of the Brotherhood to subside, and other actors to mutually apologise and to reinstate calmness. This is what the Ecclesiastic History teaches us.

(c) The author's position: Considering all of the above, we had in the past presented the idea to the current Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irineos, describing to him the historical experience. It is our sound belief, from our research, that the Patriarch is the victim of a faction or a wider conspiracy, and has therefore been overtly wronged in the matters where he is indeed right. However, we estimate that if Israel has decided to proceed to the revocation of his recognition by recognising Theophilos, Irineos should consider the option of negotiating his resignation, at least temporarily, and to ease his mind. If the conditions are favourable in the future, and with the will of God, he might be called to pursue his work, again as an active Patriarch of Jerusalem.

From the viewpoint of an ecclesiastic historian, the term “Patriarchate of Jerusalem” is meant to refer to the one and only historically authentic Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the one that is recognised internationally and pan-orthodoxically as the “Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem”, because the other Patriarchates of Jerusalem have been born out of anomalous conditions, especially after the Crusades of the West against the East, rallied to “liberate” the Holy pan-Christian and pan-Orthodox Pilgrimages, since the 11th century AD.

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