Bulgarian Holy Synod Begins Patriarch ElectionSociety | February 23, 2013, Saturday // 10:12| views
File photo of the headquarters of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the capital Sofia.
The registration of delegates for Bulgaria's ecumenical council for the election of new patriarch began at 10 am Saturday.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is expecting at least 40 guests from abroad, such as the Bishop of Cyprus, Hristozom II, and the Bishop of Prague, of the Czech and Slovak lands Christopher, the official site of the Holy Synod announced.
Bulgaria's Patriarch Maxim, who led the Church since 1971, passed away on November 6, 2012, at the age of 98. The new Bulgarian Patriarch will be chosen at the national church council on Sunday, February 24.
After the conclusion of the election, a solemn procession from the Holy Synod building to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral will take place. There will be a cordon of representatives of all military divisions of Bulgaria.
At the end of the enthronization ceremony, the new Patriarch will step to the throne, when two Bishops will promulgate three times "Worthy" for him, followed by the clergy and then the laity.
Three Bishops are going to compete for the post. They were chosen after prolonged debates and stalemates last weekend and they are: the Stara Zagora metropolitan Galaktion, Ruse's Neofit, and Lovech's Gavriil.
Galaktion was elected last Saturday with 10 votes, while the other two were elected with 9 votes on Sunday. The members of the Holy Synod decided then that 9 votes, instead of the required 10 (or 2/3rd of the vote), would be sufficient to make the cut as the election faced a failure since they could not reach consensus.
"Two thirds of 14 bishops is not 10 votes, but 9 and one third, rounding them to 9," is how the metropolitan of North America and Canada, Yosif, explained the new "math rules" after the election, assuring all three have been chosen according to the code and the Church's canons.
Varna Metropolitan Kiril, who was acting as interim Patriarch and Sofia Metropolitan, and was considered top contender, did not made the cut for collecting between 4 and 7 votes, but made history, according to experts, since this is the first time an interim Patriarch fails to be among the three runners.
A rift among the Bishops shook the Holy Synod after Patriarch Maxim passed away.
In the aftermath of the Patriarch's death and of the controversial election of the said Varna Metropolitan Kiril for Sofia Metropolitan and interim Patriarch, Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolay declared he was withdrawing for 40 days for mourning and would not attend any Holy Synod meetings, but later changed his mind.
Varna Metropolitan Bishop Kiril attracted much controversy in the end of 2011, when he appeared to service with a brand new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, apparently commissioned even before being officially released in European markets.
As recently as January 6, he appeared in front of laity in Varna gathered for the major St Jordan's Day in the Lincoln and proceeded to sprinkle the congregation with holy water, reaching from within his luxury vehicle.
Meanwhile, a claim was filed with the Supreme Administrative Court, VAS, against the election of the three Bishops to run for Patriarch. VAS refused to examine it on grounds of separation of Church and State.
In mid-January 2012, Bulgaria's so-called Files Commission – a panel investigating the Communist era secret files, exposed eleven out of a total of fifteen Bulgarian Metropolitan bishops as former agents of the Communist State Security, DS.
The four were Nikolay, Amvrosiy, Gavriil, and late Patriarch Maxim.
Gavriil was quoted saying the fact he does not have a DS file might have given him an advantage in the bid to become the new Bulgarian Patriarch.
Nikolay has not been exposed as a Communist Security Agent, but he is too young to have been recruited. He is also too young to be elected patriarch.