The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has no authority to reopen the Russian Church
The Holy Synod fully supports the actions of Patriarch Neophyte, in his capacity as Metropolitan of Sofia, regarding the Russian Church, as well as the sending of a letter to the Russian Patriarch Kirill. This was announced after the meeting of the Holy Synod by its spokesman - Metropolitan Cyprian.
It is assigned to the canonical-legal commission of the Sabbath body to study the statutes of the "Podvorie" in Sofia and Moscow, after which it will make a decision.
The bishops express hope that the temple will open soon, but specify that this is not within the authority of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
These are the decisions taken at today's meeting of the Holy Synod. According to the official information, Metropolitan Daniil of Vidin voted against them with a special opinion.
On September 25, Patriarch Neophyte, who is also the Metropolitan of Sofia, appointed priests from Sofia to take care of the Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker, also known as the Russian Church. Patriarch Neophyte expected assistance from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Sofia for the opening of the temple and "the continuation of its gracious life, which plays an important role in the spiritual upliftment of Orthodox Christians", informed the Synod at the time. It was added that Patriarch Neophyte informed the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill about the actions.
The temple was left without priests and was closed after, at the request of the State Agency for National Security (SANS), the superior of the Sofia court Archimandrite Vasian (Zmeev) and two other priests were expelled from Bulgaria, "because of actions that do not correspond to their status in Bulgaria ". A week earlier, North Macedonia declared Zmeev persona non grata.
Before today's meeting of the Holy Synod, Lobech Metropolitan Gavriil, quoted by BTA, stated that this is a church that was built as an ambassador's church by Russia and then the history is known, the vicissitudes are known. "But it never belonged to anyone but Russia and the Russian embassy. Now we have to do this, in the fastest way, so that it can be opened and served there, and especially in the crypt, because there a lot people are visiting. In this regard, which depends on us, we must do it," said the Metropolitan of Lovech.
When asked about the letter sent to the Russian Patriarch Kirill, the Lovech Metropolitan replied that "it is said that it was sent by the Patriarch and the Synod has nothing to do with it, we don't even know exactly". "Today we will learn, I have not heard of an answer and we do not know exactly what the content is, maybe it will be read today," said Metropolitan Gavriil.
Asked what the consequences would be if a decision was made to open the Russian Church and whether there would be a deterioration of relations, Metropolitan Gavriil said: "What does it mean to open it, to break it up, as during the schism, with the help of the state they took over and they were breaking up churches, we shouldn't do that. Let's open, I say again in a legal and canonical way. I'm also 'in favor' of opening it, but let it be done according to the canons and laws."
Metropolitan Gregory of Vratsa said that every temple should be opened, and in this temple many believers come to St. Seraphim, who is a very revered saint, and every day many people came to beg for his help, support and protection. Asked if the Holy Synod could resolve this issue, the Metropolitan of Vratsa replied: "We will talk today, we will see what can be done, we will take out all the facts we have and the documentation." He added that he hoped that some solution would be reached that would be constructive and beneficial for all. "We will review today all the available documents that we have and we will try our best to resolve this matter," assured the Metropolitan of Vratsa.
Metropolitan Grigory of Veliko Tarnovo said he knew nothing about the Russian church, and added that now "we are yet to find out."
Metropolitan Yakov of Dorostol said that it was not clear to him "whose property is the Russian Church". This is exactly what we will get to know today and hopefully it will benefit the laity, said the Metropolitan of Dorostol and emphasized that the temple should be opened, but not only this one, but also every temple. When asked whether the priests appointed by Patriarch Neophyte should serve in the Russian Church in Sofia, or whether they should be from the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Yakov answered that the Holy Synod will decide that, and that is why the metropolitans are meeting.
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