The Jordanian cabinet decided in a meeting this weekend to "withdraw its recognition" of Patriarch Theofilos III "for failing to fulfill the obligations he promised to the Jordanian government during his tenure," the official Petra news agency said, quoting a statement issued by the Council of Ministers.
Jordanian recognition of the patriarch is required under church law, which dictates that he must
have the blessing of the Holy Land’s ruling powers – Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. However Israel has also refused to recognize the patriarch, preferring his predecessor,
who reportedly approved the deal.
Theofilos’s predecessor, Irineos I, was ousted in May 2005 over claims of being involved in the unsanctioned sale of church property in Jerusalem, including two hotels, to an Israeli company.
The sales would bolster the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, a traditionally Arab quarter that Palestinians hope to make their capital, analysts say.
Irineos has denied the allegations against him, saying a former aide signed the leases without his knowledge. Israel continues to recognize Irineos, despite his ouster. In a reaction, Greece reportedly condemned Jordan’s decision to "withdraw" its recognition of the current
"The sudden decision by the Jordanian government… has not given Theophilos III the required time to make the necessary decisions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos was quoted as saying by the country’s English language newspaper Kathimerini. "Greece wholly backs (Theophilos) and will work toward solving this misunderstanding," Koumoutsakos reportedly added.
The Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem has an estimated 100,000 members, most of whom are Palestinian Christians. Jordan was reportedly given responsibility for overseeing Christian
and Islamic shrines in Jerusalem under Amman’s 1994 peace treaty with the Jewish state. (With reporting from the region and BosNewsLife Research).
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