Bulgarian Church Faces Fine over Communist Era Files

Society | December 20, 2011, Tuesday // 18:21|  views

Evtim Kostadinov, Chair of the so-called Files Commission, appeals to Bulgarian high-ranking clergy to act wisely and comply with the mandatory check of their Communist era files. Photo by Monitor daily

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church can be fined BGN 15 000 to 20 000 if it continues to hurdle the opening of Communist State Security, DS, files of high-ranking clergy.

The information was announced Tuesday by Darik radio, quoting Evtim Kostadinov, Chair of the so-called Files Commission, a special panel investigating the Communist regime secret files. He pointed out the deadline for the Holy Synod to submit the list with personal data of those subject to the check - the Bulgarian Patriarch, diocesan bishops, bishops, heads of seminaries, and abbots of the Rila, Troyan and Bachkovo monasteries – had not yet expired.

Last week the Holy Synod published on their official site a statement they will submit all requested documentation, but just hours later made a U-turn and took the opposite stand.

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.

On Tuesday, Kostadinov pointed out that the law is perfectly clear and voiced hope the clergy will adhere to it.

"We follow the law and we have done so not only for the Orthodox Church, but for all religions registered with the Religions Directorate at the Council of Ministers – the Catholic Church, the Muslim Community, the Adventist Church, the Armenian Church and so on," the Files Commission Head explained.

When asked if there were concerns that the different interpretation of the law can lead to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church end up being beyond all religions, he replied:

"I have no such concern; it is clearly stated, both in the Church's Code and in the interpretation of the Constitutional Court, which are the representative bodies of religious communities. I want to stress that we are not checking all clergy, but only the members of the Church's managing bodies. I hope wisdom and common sense will prevail. The most important thing is for the clergy with DS past to be exposed and Bulgarians to be informed."

Kostadinov said that if the Synod submits the requested information, the Commission could publish the first results by the end of January 2011.

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Tags: Evtim Kostadinov, 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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