Recognition of Patriarch Theolophilus III
29 september 2006
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 recognise 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.
Rev Dr. Samuel Kobia