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Bulgaria

Mixed reaction to disclosures about Bulgaria’s communist-era spies in the church, poll says

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Mon, Mar 05 2012 1987 Views
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The impact on public opinion of the disclosure that most current top leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church spied for communist-era State Security was ambiguous, according to a poll by Alpha Research agency.
 
In February, a poll by the Centre for the Study of Public Opinion found that because of the disclosures about what Bulgarian media have called the "agents in cassocks", approval of the church fell 17 per cent in three months.
 
The Alpha Research poll, the results of which were released on March 5 2012, found ambivalence in public reactions.
 
Seventeen per cent were "deeply shocked", Alpha Research said, while 36 per cent disliked the facts did not find the disclosures that important.
 
Fourteen per cent said that they had not heard about the disclosures by the Dossier Commission about those members of the Holy Synod who were State Security agents, while 33 per cent said that the news had not affected them.
 
Opinions about what should happen with the State Security agents in the top ranks of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church were polarised, the pollsters said.
 
About 25 per cent of those polled wanted the metropolitans who were communist agents to resign. A separate 25 per cent wanted the "agents in cassocks" to repent and apologise but saw no need for them to resign. Others had no opinion or saw no need for the State Security agents to do anything.
 
Of those who identified themselves as profoundly religious followers of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, 42 per cent wanted the named clerics to resign. Twenty-six per cent of this group wanted repentance and apologies.
 
Nineteen per cent said that they would refuse to allow a priest to conduct an important family ritual if they knew that he had been a State Security agent.
 
About 34 per cent said that they "swallow" the priest’s past if they knew and believed in the priest.
 
Overall, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s approval rating was 19 per cent, 56 per cent teetered between trust and distrust and 23 per cent outright did not trust the church.

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