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Τρίτη, 13 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

“I have been framed”, states Patriarch of Jerusalem Irenaios A' bluntly in his interview to “Paron tis Kyriakis”, putting the blame on Hellenic Foreign Ministry officials who are now silently enjoying having accomplished their mission...




Q: Beatitude, it is being said that the current Jerusalem Patriarchate administration does not allow you any contact with the outside world. Is that a fact?
A: Since February 2008, with the collaboration and connivance of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs that knows very well the inhuman, degrading and oppressive conditions to which I am being subjected by a group of factionists within the Patriarchate, all those who wish to visit me are denied access. They even go so far as to spread around the rumour that if I were to go out, they wouldn’t allow me back in. Back where? Back to the Church and the Brotherhood that I have served for over 50 years with loyalty and devotion. With all that I am going through, I am now certain: the Patriarchate’s imagined “glory” is nothing more than a Cross and a test of faith.

Q: Don’t the Israeli Police intervene? Have you not called them?
A: They came, they saw and they withdrew. They said that this situation is an internal matter.

Q: Are you annoyed by Israel?
A: Israel has always had the inalienable right to verify the legality of the ecclesiastic coup that took place within its territory. It is my belief that the officials have weighed up the situation but –as they, too, claim- the pressure from the Greek Foreign Ministry to cover up a whole slew of illegal and irregular acts was relentless and overwhelming.

Q: The Jerusalem Patriarchate crisis reached a climax with the reproach that you were personally involved in the long-term leases of the two controversial hotels “Petra” and “Imperial”. What is your position on that?
A: I am the victim of a conspiracy and of the malevolence of people from within the Churches Directorate of the Greek Foreign Ministry, as well as politicians who have contributed to the undermining and vilification of my person, through backstage schemes and in the logic of interwoven interests. Isn’t it reprehensible that we were “convicted” following a 24-hour long controvertible “investigation”, carried out by Greek Foreign Ministry specialists without any evidence, without a testimony, based only on slander and inaccuracies by my accusers? For the past four (now six) years, have you heard anything concerning the whereabouts of the “holy money” that I have squandered and channelled to personal accounts for my own benefit? I am truly saddened, because at that time, this is what the majority of the media presented, recycled and reproduced. The competent former Deputy Minister on church matters, Panayiotis Skandalakis, is a key figure. Instead of serving justice, he was assisting my removal from the Patriarchal throne, succoured by a mere handful of would-be significant Greek-Americans, who were mobilised against me in the name of their personal interests. However, as I am keeping track of what is being said and written, the Foreign Minister, Mrs Theodora Bakoyianni, in an interview for the newspaper “Apogevmatini” (10 July 2007), when asked about corruption, stressed that she didn’t want to accuse anyone before a conclusion was reached by Justice. In our case, just which was the court and what were the irrefutable evidence based on which it us guilty? Let the other parties, which are supposed to be scrutinising the government, peruse the casualness, the hurriedness and the prejudice that prevailed over the artificial internal crisis at the Patriarchate and they shall ascertain the exact magnitude of the crime and the web of deceit. The findings of the official Palestinian Authority Investigation Committee may act both as a slap and as a guide to uncover the scandal.

Q: The influential newspaper “The Independent”, some time after the events that led to your removal, mentioned “unfulfilled” leasing deals of Patriarchate properties.
A: In order for any transaction involving the sale or long-term lease of the Patriarchate’s assets to be valid, it needs to be approved by the Holy Synod and bear the signature of the Patriarch himself. The alleged concessions do not bear our signature nor were they authorised by the Synod. Please note that the power of attorney, about which was all the fuss, had been registered in the Chancellery book as a contract renewal for an Old Town shop. It is confirmed by the article excerpt which you mentioned earlier, that the former Patriarchate employee Nikolaos Papadimas had neither the authority nor the permission to conduct transactions and lease assets.

Q: During the Inter-Orthodox Conference (24 May 2005), the Patriarch of Constantinople Mr Bartholomew suggested that you had better step down for the good of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. How do you comment on that?
A: I should like to repeat the statement I made then, that “we arrived in Constantinople carrying olive branches, yet this was unfortunately not appreciated”. We do not hold anything against any Primus or Representative of the Holiest Orthodox Churches, as it was political tendentiousness that prevailed.

Q: Have you ever been asked to leave the Holy Land and offered something in return?
A: Who would do such a thing, and on whose power? If you mean the secular authorities, they have absolutely no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Church. We give promises, assurances, we take a vow when we are tonsured as monks, that we shall not abandon the monastery of our penitence. No, I shall not break my oath just to satisfy those who were scheming to have me removed. You also should keep in mind that according to the Ottoman law and the Jordanian law and the Patriarchate’s internal Regulations, the Patriarch’s tenure is for life: “He cannot be deposed, unless he commits heresy, and thus neither the Synod, nor its Brotherhood nor any other body has the right to depose him”.

Q: The former deacon of the late Patriarch of Alexandria Peter in an interview of his, among other things spoke of “$6 million backhanders paid to politicians, diplomats and clergymen in order to favour a country and an international lobby”.
A: It is a serious allegation which –if true- explains the stance of dark centres that are trying to obscure the actual face of our case, which is a scandal. Just like the ones before that in Greece, with which people are wondering what happened and why they weren’t investigated any further. And I am truly sorry that, defending myself today, I am forced to enquire what happened with the notorious findings of the crashed Chinook case. This is Karamanlis’ second term of office –it was during his time that two tragedies occurred in two of the original Patriarchates- and for the time being, the only thing visible in the horizon is an effort on behalf of the government to suppress both instances at all cost.

Q: How are your relations with the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre?
A: It is of great significance that some of the fathers that had been involved in our Denouncement, have now come to realise their mistake and can perfectly sense the deadlock that the Patriarchate has reached. As far as I am concerned, I am willing to await their repentance in a forgiving disposition and with the patience of Job.
Q: How valid are the speculations about an “arabisation” of the Patriarchate?
A: We consider them nothing more than mere scenarios and we should like to stress that the relations between our Arabic-speaking flock and the fathers of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre have always been spotless. Every time certain external factors attempted to disrupt this harmonious relationship, they failed. We belied that this will happen again both now and in the future, despite the hard times faced by the Church of Jerusalem due to the current canonical disorder in our Patriarchate.

Q: Could the Patriarchate play an appeasing role in the area’s political and military conflicts?
A: Some of our unofficial partners made a thought that, within the framework of the Patras 2006 European Capital of Culture, through a large exhibition of heirlooms –like the first (and unique at the time) export of Mt Athos treasures to Thessaloniki in 1997- with the collaboration of the Greek Government, to invite to its opening the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan in order to have them meet over the next days and promote a dialogue that would produce new ideas and proposals that would normalise their relations. With the 2005 events, this window of opportunity was lost, mainly for the government of Mr. Karamanlis, which over the past years has gradually lost its role as privileged interlocutor of the Arab world, while we can clearly see Turkey –for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire- establishing a meaningful presence in the Wider Middle East power play.

 “To Paron tis Kyriakis” newspaper

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