Sofia, September 26, 2023
The Church of St. Nicholas in Sofia. Photo: topgid.net
The Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Sofia will reopen, staffed by clerics appointed by His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria.
The church has served as a representation of the Russian Orthodox Church for many years, but two priests and another church employee were branded threats to national security and expelled from the country Russian Church rep expelled from Bulgaria, banned from N. Macedonia—Church respondsThe Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations issued a statement yesterday “strongly protesting against the unjustified expulsion of its representatives from Bulgaria.”
“>last week. The former rector, Archimandrite Vassian (Zmeev), was also recently banned from entering North Macedonia.
Reactions varied amongst Bulgarian hierarchs. His Eminence Metropolitan Daniil of Vidin expressed regret about the expulsion of the Russian Church clerics, emphasizing that political ideologies and alliances will fade away, while “what remains is Christ’s truth and love… The truth and love of Christ are the hope and salvation for us all. They are also the foundation of our personal and national security.”
Meanwhile, His Eminence Metropolitan Naum of Ruse published a statement about the history of the St. Nicholas Church, showing that although it has long served the Russian diaspora in Sofia, it nevertheless belongs to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and thus can be reopened with clerics appointed by Pat. Neofit in his capacity as Metropolitan of Sofia.
And yesterday, Pat. Neofit, in fact, appointed new clerics to serve in the church where the relics of the Holy Hierarch Seraphim (Sobolev) are housed in the crypt.
According to a press release published on the official Bulgarian Patriarchate site, Pat. Neofit appointed priests from Sofia to serve in the church, as it is located within his diocese.
“The Holy Metropolis of Sofia guarantees that no part of the church’s property will be lost or damaged. As before, the faithful will be able to venerate the relics of St. Seraphim of Sofia and seeks his grace-filled help and support.”
The statement continues:
The action of His Holiness is dictated by care for the faithful, maintaining good order in the Church, and should be understood solely in its spiritual aspect. It does not affect the tangible or other rights of anyone, as guaranteed by secular laws.
Any other secular legal and administrative questions related to the case will be discussed at the regular session of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church-Bulgarian Patriarchate.
His Holiness the Bulgarian Patriarch Neofit informed the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, about the actions taken with a special letter.
His Holiness expects assistance from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Sofia for the reopening of the church and the continuation of its grace-filled life, which plays an important role in the spiritual elevation of Orthodox Christians.
Before assuming their duties, the priests were received by His Holiness in the building of the Holy Metropolis of Sofia, who blessed them and gave them his archpastoral guidance in carrying out their upcoming responsibilities.
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