The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, does not oppose in vitro fertilisation – in contrast to a December 2011 statement that it did; the misconception was a result of a clerical error in the initial statement.
This is according to Lovech Metropolitan Gavril who, however, underlined that the statement was correct in saying that the church opposed surrogate motherhood.
The initial statement caused outrage among various groups and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, already caught up in a series of other recent controversies, came under fire for taking a stance against in vitro in a country in a demographic crisis with a birthrate that has been falling, overall, for several years.
According to statistics quoted in a recent report by Bulgarian-language mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa, in 2011 about 700 babies were born in Bulgaria as a result of in vitro fertilisation. The previous year the number was 688.
The success rate for conception through in vitro in Bulgaria was about 26 to 30 per cent, according to the report.
Gavril said that like the Orthodox Christian churches of Russia and of Greece, Bulgaria’s Holy Synod accepted in vitro fertilisation on condition that the biological material came from legal spouses and the cells were fertilised for implantation so that there was no destruction of eggs.
"Under these conditions, the church accepts in vitro. This is what the Holy Synod said and there is nothing more that I can say," Gavril said.