Greek Orthodox Church condemns priest who supported suicide bombings
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem announced Thursday that Attallah Hanna—the prominent priest who last month said the church supported Palestinian suicide bombings—has been fired as a church spokesman. Accusing Hanna of "supporting the Palestinian terrorism," Patriarch Eirinaios I said another clergyman would serve as spokesman. "The Orthodox Church has not been involved in politics and continually denounced all forms of violence and acts of terrorism, and instead it supports the peace process and calls for peaceful co-existence among all mankind," the patriarch said. reports that "Orthodox Arab figures" are angry at the decision, and have called for his reinstatement. "The statement stressed that Hanna will be the spokesman for the church whether the Greeks accept that or not," the website reported.

Expect much of the Arab press to continue to quote Attallah as a church spokesman. The Jerusalem Post and The Jordan Times have both reported the Greek Patriarchate's assertion that he's never been an official spokesman, but he continues to be portrayed as such.

It will be interesting to see what influence this incident has on relations between Eirinaios and Israel. The Israeli government opposed his appointment as patriarch for "security reasons," then boycotted the ceremony when the church put him in the position anyway. According to the Jerusalem Post, he still hasn't been officially "approved" by the government.

A sidenote: Weblog has received letters from folks angry with Weblog's earlier report on Attallah Hanna's remarks. Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, said Weblog should send a letter of apology to Eirinaios because "the result of his article has been to cast aspersions on the morality of [Eirinaios,] the religious leader in the Middle East who has arguably shown more integrity than any other." The Patriarch, Rosen pointed out, "immediately condemned the outrageous statements … and sent notification accordingly to the Arabic press in the various countries that published Han[n]a's shocking comments."

That's all well and good, but that condemnation never appeared online. Weblog checked myriad news sources and official websites, and there was no indication of such remarks. If the Patriarch sent them to the Arabic press, he neglected to make them widely available in English. Weblog, as we point out every day, is limited to the information available online. We don't do original reporting.

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