Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Maxim, centre
A meeting of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, that was scheduled for January 31 to discuss the church’s position on top clergy named as having been communist-era secret service collaborators was postponed because of bad weather and at the request of Patriarch Maxim.
Earlier in January, 11 out of 15 metropolitans – who make up the Holy Synod – were identified by the Dossier Commission as having been State Security agents.
The meeting has been postponed until February 15 to 17.
Gavril, Metropolitan of Lovech, who was not among the metropolitans named, said that it was very difficult to reach a general and unified decision on the records among the 15 metropolitans, all of whom have equal rights.
"We cannot now think about asking for the resignations of 11 people. That is impossible. If it had been one, or two or three, that is another matter.
"The Synod must remain united and these problems should be resolved in some way so as to benefit, but also on the other side, not to destroy, the church," Gavril said.
Reports said that at a meeting on January 23, the metropolitans decided to send the Dossier Commission the names and data of priests, abbots, monks and nuns, governing bodies of monasteries and church wardens. Two days later, the Patriarch sent a letter asking all dioceses to provide this information.
Media reports have said that some metropolitans were refusing to co-operate. These were said to include Nevrokop, whose Metropolitan Nataniel was identified as a State Security agent, and where there has been a row among clergy about whether he should resign.
Other metropolitans reportedly refusing were those of Veliko Turnovo and Stara Zagora while Varna Metropolitan Kiril said that a decision would be made after discussions with all his priests. The metropolitans of Varna, Veliko Turnovo and Stara Zagora were all State Security agents, according to the Dossier Commission.
In the diocese of Plovdiv, most clerics already were checked, but the findings were not made public and are available only to the diocesan Metropolitan Nikolai.