Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jerusalem's Greek Patriarch Waging PR Campaign to Defend Bargain-priced Land Sales

Nir Hasson,

Image from article, with caption: Pope Francis (left) meets with Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III at the Vatican, October 23, 2017.

  • Greek Orthodox Church quietly selling off Israeli assets at fire sale prices
  • Protests against Greek Orthodox patriarch intensify over church land sales
  • Jerusalem churches warn of Israel's 'systematic' erosion of Christian presence in Holy Land

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, is in the midst of an international public diplomacy campaign regarding the management of his church’s lands. On Monday he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and over the past two weeks he has met with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Next week he’s scheduled to meet the Greek prime minister and after that, the head of the Anglican Church.

Theophilos is waging war on three different fronts: Against Israeli politicians who are threatening to expropriate church lands to prevent them from falling into the hands of private developers who will undermine the rights of homeowners; against the right-wing Ateret Cohanim association, which is seeking to seize the assets in Jerusalem’s Old City that it bought from the previous patriarch; and against Christian communities in Israel, which are watching helplessly as the patriarch sells off church properties at fire-sale prices. Of these fronts, what worries Theophilos most is confronting the mounting criticism of his asset sales policy within the church itself. ...

For the first time since these transactions were publicized, the patriarch is trying to explain his position to the public. He recently engaged a PR firm, Debby Communications. ...

No comments: