Ousted Patriarch Strikes Back

Athens News

In the last Orthodox synod to call Eirinaios ‘Patriarch of Jerusalem’, the embattled cleric launched a frontal attack against the Greek government and media, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his opponents in Palestine.

“I am living not just symbolically but actually the passion of our Lord,” he said. “Why should I resign? What crime or error have I personally committed so as to choose the easy solution of escape?” Eirinaios declared making clear that he still does not comprehend the charges against him.

Eirinaios suggested that Vartholomeos was pressed into demanding his resignation “by who knows what powers and forces”, a possible reference tot he Greek government’s longstanding call for his resignation. He noted that he legitimized the synod by attending. His absence might have allowed him to declare the synod uncanonical.

Eirinaios charged Vartholomeos with encroachment, stating the he “sent within the bounds of my church jurisdiction a three-member delegation, without my approval or blessing” to probe the crisis. Eirinaios lambasted one member of that delegation, former chief secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarch Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia as “a person entirely ill-suited for objective judgement, as is well known throughout the Greek and Orthodox world”.

Eirinaios attacked his dissenting bishops as a cabal of “schismatics” and described them as “anarchists-Christian occupiers” in the mould of anarchists frequenting Athens’ Exarcheia neighborhood.

In the often unholy world of church politics, Eirinaios has been accused of siding with Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens to create a front against Vartholomeos, something Eirinaios denies. Christodoulos is said to have assisted Eirinaios in his election in 2001.

Eirinaios has also been accused of ignoring his synod in Jerusalem and acting alone. He denied that he was authoritarian and claimed he strengthened the synodal system by introducing an agenda for the first time, and avoided exercising his right to dismiss his opponents who never raised their complaints in synod. Eirinaios was denounced by a majority of his bishops on May 5 in an emergency synod they convened without him. Eirinaios cited expert opinions that their extra-synodal “denunciation” was entirely uncanonical.

Eirinaios also denied any financial malfeasance, denied that he “personally” ever sold any real estate to anyone and recited a long list of properties the purchase of which he claimed to be negotiating on behalf of the church.

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