Sunday, April 27, 2008

Greek Orthodox Church in Crisis

Greek Orthodox Patriarch of the Holy Land Theofilos III--(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Secretive real estate deals, hostility to priests, fist fights over Christ's tomb, a power struggle between patriarchs - one of the oldest churches in the Holy Land is struggling to get through a moral and financial crisis, its leader says.--SARAH EL DEEB
Adherents were embarrassed to say they were Orthodox? According to Dimitri Diliani, a church member they were! (see here)

The Orthodox Easter Week, which ends today, was overshadowed again by intra-denominational fighting. On Palm Sunday, Armenian and Greek Orthodox worshippers exchanged blows over rights of worship at Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the site where tradition says Jesus was entombed and resurrected.

Also Greek Orthodox patriarch, Irineos I has been ousted and demoted to monk behind what is being referred to as a secret real estate deal that favored Israel in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Allegedly the patriarch leased two church-owned hotels in traditionally Arab east Jerusalem to groups trying to expand a Jewish presence there. The deal enraged his predominantly Palestinian flock, because Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Theofilos III succeeded Irineos I after Irineos’ ouster in 2005. But not until last December was he formally recognized by the three governments in the Holy Land - Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. This Easter was the first in which he has led the rites unchallenged.

Theofilos oversees an ever decreasing congregation as Christianity is ever diminishing in the East being replaced by Islam. A fact that continues to leave the Orthodox Church in crisis.