Irineos I, the 140th patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, passed away in Athens last Tuesday, January 10th at the age of eighty-three after years of illness.
His burial took place on Samos, his birthplace, after Patriarch Theophilos III refused to hold his funeral in the holy city.
Former Patriarch Irineos I “has fallen asleep”
Father Timotheus Iliakis announced the death of former Patriarch Irineos I in a Facebook post. Aside from references to Kavafi, he also wrote:
The Patriarch pr. Irenaeus of Jerusalem, the long-suffering, benevolent, sanctified by the great Cross he lifted flew to the Heavens.
He endured with Joveian patience and bravery the wickedness of people and indeed those he benefited, he blessed everyone and did not get angry.
As a genuine Agiotaphite, he should have been in Jerusalem to be buried next to the Patriarchs of Jerusalem, but even here [there was] pettiness, malice and envy, but it doesn’t matter, [as] he is honored by God and the People who loved him and stood by him. More about the funeral and burial will be announced…
In another post referring to Irineos I’s enthronement in Athens and accompanied by a relevant photo, Father Iliakis wrote: “At the enthronement of the Blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem [Irineos] with First Priest Thomas Synodinos, Protocol then of the Holy Archbishop of Athens. September 2001.”
Archimandrite Timotheus Iliakis was an associate of Patriarch Irineos both before and after he was deposed in 2005 following accusations of financial mismanagement and trading of church property in Israel.
From Samos to Israel
Irineos I was born Emmanouil Skopelitis on April 17, 1939 on the island of Samos. In 1953, he moved to the Holy Land. He also served for several years there as Exarch of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.
In 2001, the former Patriarch became locum tenens, meaning temporary head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Israel, until he was officially elected to replace Patriarch Diodoros in August 2001. When the property scandal broke out in 2005, however, Patriarch Theophilis III replaced him.
According to news sources, the Patriarch sold three properties belonging to the church to Israeli developers. The developers aimed for the establishment of Jewish dominance in East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, home to many sites of religious importance to the three major Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
The move by Irineos I caused an uproar asbmost of the Greek Orthodox Church’s property was in the Arab areas of Palestine. Most Orthodox Christians in the area are Palestinians. Hence, they hoped that the area would become part of the Palestinian capital.
The Holy Synod, ruling body of the Greek Orthodox Church, voted for the cessation of his duties for these reasons.
Irineos I refused to accept his dismissal. Nevertheless, he was left with no choice but to heed to the decision when Patriarch Theophilos III was enthroned.