Orthodox Leader One Step from Dismissal

The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree endorsing the dismissal of the embattled Patriarch of Jerusalem, Irineos I, bringing the Orthodox leader one stop closer to losing his position.

Already, fellow Greek Orthodox clergymen have voted to dismiss the Patriarch, however their vote was not binding. According to Greek Orthodox Church rules, the three nations neighboring the Patriarch must endorse the dismissal before the seat is lost. With Jordan endorsing dismissal several weeks ago, and Palestine endorsing the move on Wednesday, only Israel. which is still studying the situation, remains.

"We confirm the ouster of the Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos I and the give-up of his seat and divest him from all his rights and privileges related to his position," the decree said, according to the Palestinian official news agency WAFA.

The Patriarch, meanwhile, attempts to remain in place. He has been mired in allegations of financial misconduct, following revelations that the Jerusalem church made secretive land deals with Jewish businessmen. He has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

The allegations aroused ire within the 100,000-strong, mostly Christian-Arab flock in Jerusalem. Many parishioners have called for the resignation of the Patriarch.

In May, leaders from the 12 main Orthodox Christian Churches gathered in Istanbul and refused to recognize the Patriarch Irineos' authority. Though their decision was not binding, it was meant to isolate the Patriarch and pressure him into resigning.

On Wednesday, with guards protecting him, Patriarch Irineos took control of his office as his opponents attempted to block entrances into his compound. A scuffle developed between the guards and opponents, when local police interceded, according to the Associated Press.