Elderly Bulgarian Patriarch to Withdraw from Post
The Bulgarian Holy Synod is calling an emergency meeting on October 16 and 17 when, reportedly, the Head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Maxim is going to withdraw from the post.
The information was reported Saturday by the Bulgarian Pressa (Press) daily, citing insider sources speaking off-the-record.
The Holy Synod Chief Secretary, Bishop Naum, has warned all members that they must attend and absences would not be excused.
Under the Code of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the title "Patriarch" is lifelong, but he can withdraw on reasons admissible by church canons. In such case, Maxim will hold the title "Former Patriarch of Bulgarians," and will be addressed as "You Holiness," along with keeping all privileges of an acting Patriarch.
Maxim's reasons to retreat will most likely revolve around his ailing health, the same sources have said.
He was listed in the hospital in the summer and is now under homecare, requiring round-the-clock medical attention.
Maxim was enthroned July 4, 1971, and will turn 98 on October 29.
The second key item on the agenda of the Holy Synod meeting is the election of Maxim's successor. According to unofficial information, the favorite is Sliven Bishop Yoanikiy.
In January 2012, Bulgaria's so-called Files Commission – a panel investigating the Communist era secret files, exposed eleven out of a total of fifteen Bulgarian Metropolitan bishops as former agents of the Communist State Security, Yoanikiy being one of them.