Bulgaria Ex Minister: Lincoln Better than Donkey for Bishops

Society | December 9, 2011, Friday // 14:11|  views

Bozhidar Dimitrov, a History Proffessor and a former Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, has opposed public indignation at Bishop Kiril's Lincoln vehicle. Photo bY bgnes

Bozhidar Dimitrov, former Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, has tried to downplay the scandal with the Lincoln-driving Bishop, advising against state or any other type of intervention in church affairs.

On December 06, Bulgaria's Varna and Veliki Preslav Bishop Kiril caused a scandal after showing up before his congregation with a 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

"I believe this was an attempt to discredit him in order to sabotage his future bid for Bulgarian Patriarch," Dimitrov said in an interview for Friday's morning broadcast of private TV station bTV.

"Some of the other Bishops have cars that are five or six times more expensive than the Lincoln of Kiril. In my opinion, this was an attempt

Dimitrov insisted that church affairs ought to be left to the church because nobody had the moral right to interfere.

Reminding that "the one who is without sin" gets to cast the first stone, he claimed that eveybody had sins, including the other guest in the morning show, sociloligist Andrey Raichev.

"The issue involves not only Kiril, but also grain producers with Bentleys and the Mercedes' and BMWs driven by MPs, government officials and the President," the History Professor argued.

"I feel indignant at the indignation. Some of the other bishops have cars that are five or six times more expensive than this one. They are driving these vehicles which are not theirs but have been given to them through the same mechanism. There simply exists such a practice," Dimitrov added.

Asked to comment on the reasons behind the practice, he responded with a "why should there not be?", stressing that Bishops had huge church districts to run.

Apart from that, Dimitrov drew attention to the fact that Bishops had representative functions and were supposed to meet with their counterparts from Greece, Russia, Moldova and Ukraine.

"When we say tha it is immoral to drive such middle-class vehicles, we must also say what vehicle would count for moral for a Bishop. Should it be a VW Golf 2, or a VW Golf 3. That is the question," Dimitov stated, stressing that cars were a necessity in the modern world."After all, he cannot do what Jesus did when he rode a donkey into Jerusalem. Can you imagine a Bulgarian Bishop riding a donkey? By the way, riding a donkey into Jerusalem at that time was the same as driving a middle-class vehicle nowadays. Apostles walked, why Jesus rode a donkey," Dimitrov explained.Dimitrov's opponent, sociologist Andrey Raichev bristled with indignation at his claims.

He further insisted that nobody had the right to interfere in church matters.

"If the state let go of the Church by way of the Constitution, then how come we are stepping in? Let the Church reform itself," the former Minister reasoned.

"This is a shame. You are praising people who are unwilling to reform," Raichev stated.

"The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is morally bankrupt in the eyes of the people. The situation has become unbearable and this godlessness of the population will continue," the social scientist said.

He stated three oppositional motives - the fact that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was the only one to act as a self-proclaimed authority providing a unique relationship with God, the fact that it governed huge money, an estimated EUR 3-4 B, and yet allowed a situation where low-rank priests could barely make ends meet while Bishops drove Lincolns, and the fact that the Bulgarian Church was rather provincial and kept the country isolated from the rest of the world.

"Look at these three reasons- they are acting bossy, they are sitting on heaps of money which they only use for personal gains, and thet are keeping us isolated from the world. Why is that? The answer is very simple. This clique helps those in power stay in power," Raichev summarized.

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Tags: Bozhidar Dimitrov, Minister without Portfolio for Bulgarians Abroad, Bishop Kiril, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, Bulgarian Orthodox Church


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