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Recognition by Israel of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III

29 September 2006

Letter H.E. Mr Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, 29 September, 2006



Your Excellency,

I write to convey the deep concern of the World Council of Churches and request
remedial action at the long delay by the Government of Israel in recognizing His
Beatitude Patriarch Theophilus III as the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
of Jerusalem. More than one year has passed since his election to that post. The
other governments involved in this matter have fully recognized his patriarchy.

In addition to this unjustified delay, Your Excellency's administration continues
to recognize the duly deposed former patriarch, now monk, Irineos, in contravention
of the actions of the legitimate religious representatives of the Greek
Orthodox Church of Jerusalem who hold the authority to elect and install the Greek
Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. It is only their Holy Synod - not the Government
of Israel - which determines who is the legitimate leader of that church.
The recently concluded meeting of the Central Committee of the World Council
of Churches took up the Israeli Government's action which is tantamount to interference
by the state in the affairs of the church. The Central Committee has asked
me, as General Secretary, to communicate their concern to you. The World Council
of Churches calls for the prompt and unqualified recognition of His Beatitude
Patriarch Theophilus III as the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
by the Government of Israel.

I would end this letter with the observation that meaningful and appropriate
demonstrations of respect for religion do honour to those in positions of power
in every place. Nowhere is this more the case than in the divided city of Jerusalem
and among communities around the world that look to it in faith and hope.

Yours sincerely,

Rev Dr. Samuel Kobia
General Secretary