Russian Synod forbids concelebration with Bulgarian hierarchs who concelebrated with schismatics

Moscow, May 31, 2024

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By decision of the Holy Synod of Moscow Patriarchate yesterday, there can be no concelebration with the hierarchs of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church who recently themselves concelebrated with two “hierarchs” of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

On May 19, five Bulgarian hierarchs, Metropolitans Nicholas of Plovdiv, Cyprian of Stara Zagora, Iakov of Dorostol, and Bishops Zion of Velichka and Vissarion of Smolyan, served in Istanbul with various hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and “Archbishop” Evtstraty (Zorya) and “Bishop” Avraamy (Latish) of the OCU sect.

Latish is the sole monk of the Kiev Caves Lavra who decided to leave the Church, in order to become the “abbot” of the schismatics’ Lavra brotherhood, and subsequently a “bishop.”

The Moscow Patriarchate Synod heard a report on the matter yesterday by His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Church Relations, and “expressed deep sorrow” over the incident, “which has seriously damaged relations between the Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches,” reports

“The participants of the session stated the impossibility of concelebration with the mentioned hierarchs who entered into ecclesiastical communion with the schismatics. It was noted with regret that the Patriarchate of Constantinople continues to take actions aimed at deepening the division in Orthodoxy.”

The schismatic concelebration also caused some degree of outrage amongst the clergy and faithful of the Bulgarian Church, many of whom sent letters of protest to the Holy Synod.

There was also a tense moment in Russian-Bulgarian Church relations when the former rector of the Russian representation church in Sofia was evicted from the country in September, having been deemed a threat to national security.

With his expulsion, the church, which is home to the relics of the Holy Hierarch and wonderworker St. Seraphim (Sobolev), was closed, and debates began about who legally owns it: Bulgaria or the Russian embassy in Sofia, and who was responsible for appointing clerics and reopening the Church: the Bulgarian or Russian Church.

His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria appointed Bulgarian clerics to serve there, but the church never reopened under them. Then, in mid-October, the Russian Holy Synod appointed a new rector.

On November 10, the doors of the church reopened and the new rector served a moleben of thanksgiving.

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