In an interview with spokesman of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Dr. Archimandrite Atallah Hanna, conducted the Palestine News Network, Hanna affirms that the church is serious about appointing the suitable Patriarch, and confirmed that the church will pursue the dismissed Patriarch Irineuos, with all legal means.

Hanna revealed information, but gave no details on forming a committee that coordinates with a number of lawyers to follow up on this case. 

Following is the full interview with Atallah Hanna.

Q. Can we assume that the crisis in the Orthodox Church is finished after dismissing Patriarch Irineuos?

A. I can say that the crisis is partially over; our main goal is not to punish the Patriarch for his treason of selling the church property, but to cancel the sales deals he made.

The Orthodox Church is part of the spiritual heritage in the holy city of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is an Arab Palestinian city that is occupied, and it should be recovered by its people.  The Christians of Jerusalem are part of the city and part of the Palestinian people.

Q. Do you expect that the dismissed Patriarch would try to resort to international pressure to get back to his post?

A. Irineuos’ era is finished for now and for ever.  No matter methods and tricks he will use, he will not be able to do so, because the Synod and the Holy Tomb brethren dismissed him from the church, so he lost his legitimacy in the congregation, besides, the Palestinian and Jordanian recognition of him were canceled.  Therefore, the only thing he can do is to pack and leave.

What Irineuos did, created a crack in the church.  He also violated the church laws.  We need a long time and effort to correct what he did.

For us, he is a dismissed Patriarch.  He does not have any official status. He speaks of his own opinion only as he does not represent the church anymore.

Q. What are the steps to appoint a new Patriarch, is there pressure to have an Arab Patriarch?

A. We are not in a hurry; we need to be careful in selecting the new Patriarch.  We must be sure to select the best person for this sensitive post.  This needs time and effort.  What we care about is the quality of this person despite of his nationality.  We want him to be supportive to our rights and speak our language and understand us.

The new patriarch should also realize the importance of his post and difficult task he will be performing, so that mistakes of the dismissed patriarch won’t be repeated.

Q. Do you think the Israeli occupation has finger prints on the corruption of the Patriarch?

A. Israel does not care about what is good for the church.  What Israel is interested in is gaining more land in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the West Bank, as part of ‘Judiaizing’ and ‘Israelizing’ Jerusalem. 

Part of the corruption is due to Israeli interference in internal church affairs.  Irineuos became a tool controlled by Israel used for leaking more land to Jewish state.  We reject traitors, we want a clean leadership.

Q. How can you regain the property that was sold to the Jewish Investors?

A. There is a special committee assigned by the Synod responsible only to follow up on this case.  Besides, there is a group of lawyers who are providing legal aide to the committee.  I want to ensure you, there are intensive effort being invested in this case, the property will be recovered.

Interviewed by Palestine News Network