Pro-Suicide Bombings Cleric made Bishop

AsiaNews reports on the latest from Jerusalem:

Teophilos III, the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, has announced his first appointments; among them Arab Archimandrite Attalah Hanna, who was made bishop, and Palestinian Galaktion, who was appointed to the Synod. For the patriarch this is a step “that deserves to be underlined and proclaimed to all”.

There have for many years been complaints that the local hierarchy, which is mainly Greek, has failed to properly represent Palestinian interests – things reached a head with the last Patriarch, Irineos I, under whose tenure property in East Jerusalem was sold to Jewish groups attempting to consolidate Israeli control of the city. Irineos alleges this was done without his knowledge; and it should be remembered that he was originally blocked from becoming patriarch by Israel, which considered him to be too pro-Palestinian.

Little is known of “Galaktion”, but the extremely dodgy figure of Attalah Hanna has featured on this blog before. On the one hand he denies that he supports suicide bombings – but he has twice (maybe more) been cited in Arab media sources as praising the “martyrs”. His previous position as spokesman for the church was also highly irregular; Irineos fired him in 2002, after which Hanna simply carried on claiming to speak for the church on his own authority. According to Reuters, Hanna then initiated the power struggle which led to Irineos’s fall, with a view to seizing the patriarchate for himself. But bizarrely, Hanna has also stated that the East Jerusalem property sale itself was not necessarily a bad thing; just the way it was done.

So why has Theophilus promoted such a tricky character? According to AsiaNews, Hanna thanks God for his appointment; Haaretz, by contrast, suggests rather more worldly patrons:

Since his inauguration just 10 days ago, Theofilos has also come under heavy pressure from the Palestinian Authority and Jordanian government to promote Palestinian priests and bring Hanna into the Synod. He opted for a compromise, promoting Hanna but bringing Galaktion into the Synod instead.

This shows that Theophilus is wary of Hanna – just as the rest of us who would like to see an end to the oppression of the Palestinians should be.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian Christian rejection of suicide bombings can be read here.