The Apostolic Nunciature in Israel announced Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Elias Chacour, Archbishop of the Greek Melkite Archeparchy of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and the Galilee, ICN reported. The Catholic news service added that archbishop, a “native Palestinian, whose family and entire village were evicted when the State of Israel was formed,” was the first Israeli citizen to be appointed a Catholic bishop. In this role, “he has devoted his life to advocating non-violence and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians and has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
But, according to CNS, last October, the well-known archbishop was called in for police questioning for suspected sexual harassment of a woman who works in the community. The allegations concerned an incident that allegedly took place five years ago.
Following several hours of questioning, the archbishop was released on bail under restricting conditions.
The woman’s complaint was filed two years ago, but the investigation needed special permission to proceed because of the archbishop’s high standing (what with the Nobel nominations and whatnot).
Archbishop Chacour was reported to have been cooperative with his interrogators (we almost wrote “inquisitors”) but denied the allegations against him.
A source familiar with the church in Galilee noted that the archbishop tendered his resignation after speaking with church officials, who suggested it would be best if he resigned. Ill health and the sexual harassment charges against him appear to be among the several reasons he resigned, said the source.
Pope Francis accepted the resignation yesterday, CNS reported.
Canon 210 of the Eastern Code of Canon Law allows for resignation for health reasons or at the age of 75. Archbishop Chacour is 74.
Back in June 2004, Maureen Clare Murphy, writing for The Electronic Intifada, described Chacour as a “Prophet in His Own Country,” which also happened to be the title of the film about him she was pushing:
It is Chacour’s goal to heal the souls and regain the dignity of his people. He hopes to convert people “not to Christianity, but to hope.” Chacour is one of those preachers of non-violence that the rest of the world says the Palestinians need to offer before the international community can be bothered to do anything about their plight. And young voices are following in his wake; a young female student of his says that while she feels out of place as an Israeli citizen, and notes the discrimination she faces, she has decided to stay put instead of going to Canada because Israel “would love” to have the Palestinians leave.
Turns out the holy Archbishop could be doing all kinds of touching.