Nevrokop Metropolitan Nataniel (State Security code name Blagoev)
Reports that priests in Bulgaria’s Nevrokop diocese had demanded the resignation of Metropolitan Nataniel after he was officially identified as having been a communist-era State Security agent were rejected by other clerics.
Nataniel was among 11 metropolitans named by the Dossier Commission as former State Security agents.
Of the top clergy checked by the Dossier Commission, only three metropolitans and the head of the church, Patriarch Maxim, were cleared as not having been State Security agents or collaborators.
Television station TV7 quoted Bulgarian Orthodox Church priest Father Vladko Taskov of Razlog as saying, after a statement calling for Nataniel’s resignation was adopted, that "no one could fight God".
People identified as State Security agents, even those wearing cassocks, should resign, the priest said. The Christian gospel, church dogmas and canons insisted on this, Taskov said.
The statement said that the priests wanted the resignations of all who had worked against the church and the people, because they had led to the Church being despised.
But a few hours later, priests in Gotse Delchev, part of the Nevrokop diocese, issued their own statement said that they did not support the resignation call.
Archpriest Stefan Alexandrov, quoted by Radio Focus Pirin, said that he had heard of the declaration only minutes earlier and said that it was not true that it was supported by all the priests in the diocese.
"Moreover, these are not circumstances in which we ask for the resignation of anyone," Alexandrov said.
He said that the church was a living institution headed by Jesus and it would survive until the last day.
If someone had sinned, the response should not be to kill the church or the diocese and individual parishes.
Pledging obedience to the Metropolitan, Alexandrov said, "we are behind him".