Bulgaria's New Patriarch Neofit: The Cross is Heavy
Heavy is the cross that God and our Holy Church are giving me today, but in God's words I trust and ask him for strength for when I am weak, then am I strong, Bulgaria's new patriarch said.
Patriarch Neofit delivered his first address to the Bulgarian Orthodox Christians during his inauguration at St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
"The patriarch's mission requires denial of anything that would impede it, proclamation of loyalty to God and obedience to His holy will, willingness to follow Christ who humbled himself by being obedient unto death, even death on the cross," Patriarch Neofit said in his speech.
"I find inspiration in those bright personalities and passionate patriots in our history, patriarchs, saints and confessors, who have always acted as children of light. Patriarch Maxim, whose successor I was elected today, left a shining trail and I bow my head in homage to his life and work," said the new Bulgarian Patriarch.
"Caring for the priesthood, spiritual schools, churches and educational activities will be assigned top priority. I will support and encourage charity and generosity," he promised.
Ruse Metropolitan Neofit was elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church by the Holy Synod's national church council on Sunday after he prevailed over two other candidates at a runoff.
The three who were were chosen after prolonged debates and stalemates last weekend were: Neofit, the Stara Zagora metropolitan Galaktion, and Lovech's Gavriil.
The news about Neofit's election was announced Sunday by interim Patriarch and Sofia Metropolitan, Kiril.
Neofit collected 90 votes at runoff against Gavrail, who got 47.
The announcement was accompanied by solemn church bells in downtown Sofia.
Neofit was born on October 15, 1945 in Sofia.
He is a graduate of the Theology Academy in Sofia, and has specialized in Moscow.
Neofit is a former lecturer and conductor of the Theology Academy choir, coadjutor at Sofia Bishopric, President of the Theology Academy, first Dean of the restored Faculty of Theology at Sofia University, and was Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod.
He is known to have been very close to late Patriarch Maxim.
Bulgaria's Patriarch Maxim, who led the Church since 1971, passed away on November 6, 2012, at the age of 98.
A solemn procession from the Holy Synod building to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral followed the election of the new patriarch. There was a cordon of representatives of all military divisions of Bulgaria.
At the end of the enthronization ceremony, the new Patriarch stepped to the throne, when two Bishops promulgated three times "Worthy" for him, followed by the clergy and then the laity.
The new Patriarch received the patriarchy attributes: robe, crown, scepter, the patriarchal cross and the engolpiya (small icons) – the latter two worn on the chest.
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