Orthodox Church of Jerusalem

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The Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, properly called the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, is regarded by Orthodox Christians as the mother church of all of Christendom, because it was in Jerusalem that the Church was established on the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus Christ. From Jerusalem the gospel of Christ was spread to the world. This church is part of Eastern Orthodoxy.

As Christianity spread, and the persecutions of the Jews by Roman authorities in their homeland increased, causing the dispersion of many of the Christians from Jerusalem, the import of this church and its impact on the ongoing life of the whole Church diminished. By the time of the First Council of Nicaea in 325 the bishop of Aelia Capitolina, the Roman colony founded on the site of Jerusalem after Bar Kokhba's revolt, was not even the highest ranking in the province, being subject to the Metropolitan of Caesarea. However, the Council accorded the bishop a certain undefined precedence in its seventh canon. It gradually grew in prestige, and in a decree issued from the seventh session of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 it was recognized as possessing full Patriarchal status, ranked fifth after the Churches of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch.

The Church of Jerusalem remains the custodian of many of the holy sites in Jerusalem and environs, sometimes jointly with Roman Catholic or Coptic or Armenian Orthodox Christians.

Lately there has been criticism of the church leadership by some of the Palestinian faithful, who accuse the Greek-speaking and largely Greek-born leadership of squandering their money and treating their Arabic-speaking members as second-class faithful. In 2005, a crisis of the patriarchy occurred when Patriarch Irenaios was stripped of his authority as patriarch by the Holy Synod of Jerusalem. The locum tenens is Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra.

On August 22, 2005, the Holy Synod of the Church of Jerusalem unanimously elected Theofilos III, the former Archbishop of Tabor, as the 141st Patriarch of Jerusalem.

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