Bulgaria’s embattled Holy Synod issued an official statement Monday declaring all three bishops, elected to run for becoming the next Patriarch of the country, worthy of the post.
The three who were chosen after prolonged debates and stalemates over the weekend are: the Stara Zagora metropolitan Galaktion, Ruse’s Neofit, and Lovech’s Gavriil.
Galaktion was elected 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.
The new Bulgarian Patriarch will be chosen at a national church council on Sunday, February 24.
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.
A rift among the Bishops shook the Holy Synod after Bulgaria’s Patriarch Maxim, who led the Church since 1971, passed away on November 6, 2012, at the age of 98.
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.
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.
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.