Dismissed Greek Orthodox Patriach Irinous I returned, under police protection, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Friday night.

Irinous I managed to enter the church, but most bishops have excommunicated him, taking their orders instead from his temporary replacement Bishop Baselios. The Church said that it would choose a permanent replacement this week.

The highest decision-making body of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, the Holy Synod, fired Patriarch Irineos I on Friday over his suspected involvement in the sale of church land to Jewish investors.

Archimandrite Attallah Hanna said the patriarch left the church after the 18-member Holy Synod made its decision.

‘We don’t know where he went,’ he said.

Greek Church leaders announce dismissal of patriarch

Thirteen bishops and 25 archimandrites of the Greek Orthodox Church announced Thursday breaking off all contact with Patriarch Irineos because of corruption suspicions and consider him dismissed.

The announcement was made in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.

Irineos link to the leasing of prime church property to Jewish groups in Jerusalem’s Old City is still being investigated by Church leaders, as well as by Palestinian and Jordanian officials.

In their statement, church leaders accused Irineos of being ‘incorrigibly caught up in a syndrome of lying, religious distortion, degradation of the patriarchate’s role, and irresponsible mishandling of patriarchate property.’

Church leaders said they would bring legal proceedings against Irineos and his associates, declaring Irineos a persona non grata.

Church leaders promised to take every possible procedure to ‘revoke all suspect deals and restore all that was sold.’

Dimitri Diliani, head of a coalition of Palestinian Christians, called the clergymen’s revolt on Thursday a ‘historic move of disobedience’ that would likely force Irineos to resign or convene the patriarchate’s Holy Synod, which have the authority to dismiss him.

Palestinian Christains, who consider the land deals a betrayal, have held several protests against Irineos.

 

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