Former Patriarch "Under House Arrest"

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) - It's Christmas time for Greek Orthodox Christians, but their former patriarch in the Holy Land isn't celebrating.

Six years ago, Irineos (eer-ih-NAY-ohs) the First was deposed as patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem in a dispute over the sale of church land to Israelis.

Today, as his successor celebrates Christmas in Bethlehem, Irineos sits behind locked doors in his apartment in the Old City of Jerusalem, claiming he's a virtual prisoner.

The only way Irineos could speak to The Associated Press Thursday was through a wireless microphone hoisted at the end of a rope to his roof -- the same way he gets groceries.

Church officials deny Irineos is under house arrest, and say he's a liar.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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