Irineos I Demands Immunity in Greece in Return for Resignation

Greek Orthodox patriarch ousted after selling church land in Jerusalem to Jews.

Irineos I, the ousted patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land is negotiating with the Greek government over terms that would allow him to retire honorably. The matter has become urgent since the election on Monday of a new patriarch.

An agreement has been reached over the conditions of Irineos' retirement and pension. The bone of contention is Irineos' request for immunity from any legal proceedings which might be initiated against him in Greece.

This demand is seen as controversial by Greek officials, who want to put the embarrassing affair to rest as quickly as possible, but hesitate to confer immunity on the ousted patriarch, who has been demoted to the rank of monk.

If Irineos retires of his own volition, it would ease matters for Israel, which has until now avoided withdrawing its recognition of him, thus creating the problematic precedent of two competing Greek Orthodox patriarchs in Jerusalem.

Israel's position has been influenced by the fact that the proceedings that led to Irineos' dismissal grew out of suspicions of his involvement in the sale of church real estate in Jerusalem's Old City to Jews affiliated with Israel's right wing.

However, an official source in Greece told Haaretz that the disappointment in Irineos' performance was not due to the real estate affair in Jerusalem, but rather to his performance in his previous capacity as the custodian of the Jerusalem Patriarchy's property in Greece.