Bulgarian Holy Synod Makes U-turn on Communist Era Files

Society | December 17, 2011, Saturday // 15:05|  views

Bulgaria's Holy Synod refuses to allow a probe of high-ranking clergy for affiliation to the Communist security and intelligence services. File photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Just hours after making the decision to agree on the opening of Communist State Security files of high-ranking clergy, Bulgaria's Holy Synod made a U-turn and took the opposite stand.

The Holy Synod at the Bulgarian Orthodox Church now says that the initial decision had been made hastily and was a mistake. This decision had already been deleted from the official site of Bulgaria's Bishopric bg-patriarshia.bg.

According to reports, the change of mind came over adamant opposition from the Nevrokop Bishop, Natanail, who is a member of the Synod. Enraged, he had declared anti-constitutional both the Act for Access and Exposure of Documents and Publication of Bulgarian Citizens' Affiliation to the Communist State Security and Bulgarian Army Communist Intelligence Services (adopted by the Parliament in December 2006), and the activities of the so-called Files Commission.

The Bishop bases his claim on grounds the Act violates the separation of Church and State. He insists that before making the decision, the Holy Synod should have listened to the opinion of a lawyer with in-depth and expert knowledge on legal matters involving the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Natanail commented that as early as 1992, the Constitutional Court had ruled that State interference in internal matters and organization activities of religious institutions is inacceptable. His opinion was backed by Lovech Bishop, Gavriil, speaking in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, Saturday, citing the same Court. Gavriil, however, stated he would leave it to the Files Commission to decide if it was right to open records of the high-ranking clergy.

On the heels of the Bishops' rage, the Holy Synod altered its opinion, which now reads that the Files Act is not applicable to all religious institutions in general, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in particular.

The probe of records should involve the Bulgarian Patriarch, diocesan bishops, bishops, heads of seminaries, and abbots of the Rila, Troyan and Bachkovo monasteries.

Regarding the refusal of the Synod to supply the needed information, Bulgaria's Files Commission, a special panel investigating the Communist regime secret files, commented a while ago that they would do the probe anyway, with or without the requested information.

The Files Commission has exposed as state security agents and collaborators a number of officials working in State institutions and major agencies, including the State Agency for National Security, Agriculture State Fund, the Public Financial Inspection Agency, and the Commission for Protection of Personal Data.

The blacklist of former state security agents and collaborators already features outgoing President and former Socialist leader, Georgi Parvanov, MPs, former constitutional judges, supreme magistrates, investigators, members of parliament, prominent and well-known former and current Bulgarian journalists.

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Tags: agents, State Security, communist, Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Files Commission, Gavriil, Natanail, Bishops, bishop, intelligence, State Security, communist, clergy affiliation, high-ranking, Holy Synod


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