Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beit Jala Parish Protests Visit of Theophilus III to Bethlehem

During the visit of Patriarch Theophilus III (Giannopoulos) of Jerusalem to the Bethlehem area this past Sunday for St. Nicholas' day the parishioners of the Palestinian Orthodox parish in Beit Jala, a suburb of the holy city, refused to meet with the patriarch and instead protested his visit because of revelations that the Patriarchate has continued to sell lands owned by the Palestinian Orthodox Church in the occupied West Bank to Israeli citizens for development as Jewish settlements.

The predecessor of Theophilus III, Patriarch Irenaeus I (Skopelitis), was removed from the Patriarchate for selling land to Israelis, so the failure of the new patriarch to stand up for the interests of his flock and to serve instead the interests of the predominantly Greek Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher (which administers the Patriarchate and the holy sites of Palestine) has come as a great disappointment to the Palestinian Orthodox faithful. In addition to his mishandling of church property in the Holy Lands Patriarch Theophilus also recently abandoned the Jerusalemite Orthodox faithful in North America under pressure from the Phanar, transferring them to the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

More on the Beit Jala protests can be found here.

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