Bulgarian party warns of foreign pressure in Patriarchal elections: “Our Church is being led into schism”

Sofia, June 11, 2024

Photo: spzh.live Photo: spzh.live     

A Bulgarian political party is calling on President Rumen Radev to convene a National Security Advisory Council due to foreign interference in the upcoming Patriarchal elections. His Holiness Patriarch Neofit, who presided over the Bulgarian Church for 11 years, reposed in the Lord in March. His successor will be chosen on June 30.

“Our Church his being led into schism, like the Ukrainian Church,” warns the Revival Party, reports Glasove.

As a pillar of Bulgarian society, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is a factor in national security, “and it is unacceptable to be controlled by agents of foreign influence presented as clerics,” the party warns.

“The role of the U.S. in this process of controlling the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is evident. It’s clear that this is being done with the cooperation of the Ecumenical Patriarch and some Bulgarian metropolitans and bishops who violated the canons and served with schismatics in Turkey,” Revival explains.

On May 19, three Bulgarian metropolitans and two bishops concelebrated with two “bishops” of the schismatic “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” while visiting Istanbul. Among them was Metropolitan Nicholas of Plovdiv, who, if he stays in the race, is a popular contender for the Patriarchal throne.

His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech, known for his strong Orthodox stance on the Ukrainian question, confirmed that the concelebrating bishops acted willfully, without approval from the Bulgarian Holy Synod, which has never recognized the legitimacy of the schismatic Ukrainian organization.

The Revival statement continues:

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, like the Bulgarian state, is being led according to the Ukrainian scenario. Our Church is being led into schism like the Ukrainian Church, and our state to war like the Ukrainian state. If we want to assess the consequences of this schism, each of us can carefully examine the schism in the Ukrainian Church, the persecutions, and physical attacks on the priests there. A united and independent Church is an important component of a united state. Historically, whenever our state has lost its independence, the Church has also lost its independence.

Therefore, “We want President Rumen Radev to immediately convene a National Security Advisory Council on the issue of US interference in the election of the Bulgarian Patriarch, which poses a threat to the national security of Bulgaria,” the party concludes.

Others in Bulgaria have sounded the same warning. Theologian Professor Ivan Zhenev spoke of the concelebration in Turkey as a PR move by Met. Nicholas of Plovdiv. “With the elections coming up, Euro-Atlanticism is very much in vogue. Patriarch Bartholomew, behind whom stands the State Department—it’s very prestigious to be on good terms with him. Metropolitan Nicholas went to bow to him there and to secure support,” the theologian said.

Kostadin Kostadinov, founder and chairman of the Revival Party, has also made personal remarks. “It’s no secret that our Patriarchate is under strong American pressure, and Bartholomew plays the role of the main weapon in this pressure,” he said last month.

The concelebration with schismatics also sparked a string of protest letters and physical protests from Bulgarian clerics, monastics, and laity.

With such tension, three hierarchs, Their Eminences Metropolitans Gabriel of Lovech, Seraphim of Nevrokop, and Daniil of Vidin made an appeal for increased prayer in the run-up to the Patriarchal elections.

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