Police: Greek priest should be tried for sex crimes

Elias Chacour, former head of Israel’s Greek Catholic church, stands accused of harassment, assault

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Elias Chacour (photo credit: Youtube screenshot)
Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Elias Chacour (photo credit: Youtube screenshot)

Following a comprehensive investigation, the Israel Police submitted a recommendation Wednesday that Archbishop Emeritus Dr. Elias Chacour, 74, former head of the Melkite Greek Catholic church in Israel, be prosecuted for sexual harassment and indecent assault of an employee.

“An evidential basis was formed that the suspect committed an offense of indecent assault and sexual harassment against the complainant,” a statement from the Lahav 433 crime unit read.

The findings will be transferred to the state attorney to determine whether to bring Chacour to trial.

The probe was launched after a complaint was filed by a senior worker in the church’s educational system, charging the then-archbishop with the above crimes, and claiming that Chacour had fired her following the offenses in 2008.

Chacour served as the archbishop from 2006 until 2014, the first Palestinian to hold the position. He submitted his resignation to Pope Francis earlier this year, in light of his declining health and, some claim, the harassment allegations against him.

“His health is not perfect, but health is not the main reason [for his resignation],” an unnamed source told the Catholic News Service. “It seems there are also the accusations, but it is a combination of reasons, the [sexual harassment] charges, mismanagement, disputes with priests. [With all these] it seems he reached the conclusion [to resign.]”

Chacour maintained that his retirement was unrelated to the accusations.

The archbishop emeritus holds a doctorate degree in theology, and two master’s degrees from Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Talmud and Bible. At the time of his graduation in 1968, Chacour became the first Arab-Israeli to complete a master’s degree at the Hebrew University.

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