Bulgarian Orthodox Church

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Bulgarian Orthodox Church
Българска православна църква
Patriarchate of Bulgaria
Coat of arms of BPC.png
Primate Neophyte, Patriarch of All Bulgaria
Language Bulgarian and Old Church Slavonic
Headquarters Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria
Possessions United States, Canada, Australia, European Union, Argentina, Russia, Greece, Turkey
Founder Saint Andrew,
Boris I of Bulgaria
Recognition870 (Autocephaly)
927 (Patriarchate)
1235 (Patriarchate)
1953 (Patriarchate)
Separations Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church (early 20th century)
Bulgarian Orthodox Church – Alternative synod (1996)
Members8 to 11 million
Official website Bulgarian Orthodox Church

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Bulgarian : Българска православна църква, Balgarska pravoslavna tsarkva) is an autocephalous Orthodox Church. It is the oldest Slavic Orthodox Church with some 6 million members in the Republic of Bulgaria and between 1.5 and 2.0 million members in a number of European countries, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. It was recognized as an independent Church by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in AD 870, becoming Patriarchate in 918/919 (officially recognized in 927).

Bulgarian language South Slavic language

Bulgarian, is an Indo-European language and a member of the Southern branch of the Slavic language family.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.


Canonical status and organization

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church considers itself an inseparable member of the one, holy, synodal and apostolic church and is organized as a self-governing body under the name of Patriarchate. It is divided into thirteen dioceses within the boundaries of the Republic of Bulgaria and has jurisdiction over additional two dioceses for Bulgarians in Western and Central Europe, the Americas, Canada and Australia. The dioceses of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church are divided into 58 church counties, which, in turn, are subdivided into some 2,600 parishes.

Patriarchate is an ecclesiological term in Christianity, designating the office and jurisdiction of an ecclesiastical patriarch.

Western Europe region comprising the westerly countries of Europe

Western Europe is the region comprising the western part of Europe. Though the term Western Europe is commonly used, there is no commonly agreed-upon definition of the countries that it encompasses.

Central Europe Region of Europe

Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of Europe. Central Europe occupies continuous territories that are otherwise sometimes considered parts of Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe. The concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical, social, and cultural identity.

The supreme clerical, judicial and administrative power for the whole domain of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is exercised by the Holy Synod, which includes the Patriarch and the diocesan prelates, who are called metropolitans. Church life in the parishes is guided by the parish priests, numbering some 1,500. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church also has some 120 monasteries in Bulgaria, with about 2,000 monks and nearly as many nuns.

Holy Synod synod comprised of a group of bishops

In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod. For instance, the Holy Synod is a ruling body of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch of All Bulgaria

The patriarch of All Bulgaria is the patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The patriarch is officially styled as Patriarch of All Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia. Patriarch Neophyte acceded to this position on 24 February 2013.

Metropolitan bishop ecclesiastical office

In Christian churches with episcopal polity, the rank of metropolitan bishop, or simply metropolitan, pertains to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis.


Eparchies in Bulgaria: (with Bulgarian names in brackets)

Vidin Town in Bulgaria

Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in north-western Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Romania and Serbia, and is also the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin.

Vratsa City in Bulgaria

Vratsa is a city in northwestern Bulgaria, at the foothills of the Balkan Mountains. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Vratsa Province.

Lovech Place in Bulgaria

Lovech is a city in north-central Bulgaria. It is the administrative centre of the Lovech Province and of the subordinate Lovech Municipality. The city is located about 150 kilometres northeast from the capital city of Sofia. Near Lovech are the towns of Pleven, Troyan and Teteven.

Eparchies abroad:

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

The Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia is one of fifteen dioceses of the Church of Bulgaria. The diocese is led by Metropolitan Joseph (Bosakov), however he submitted his resignation on February 26th, 2013, which seems to be still pending.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


Early Christianity

The St. George Rotunda (4th century AD), Sofia StGeorgeRotundaSofia.JPG
The St. George Rotunda (4th century AD), Sofia

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has its origin in the flourishing Christian communities and churches, set up in the Balkans as early as the first centuries of the Christian era. Christianity was brought to the Bulgarian lands and the rest of the Balkans by the apostles Paul and Andrew in the 1st century AD, when the first organised Christian communities were formed. By the beginning of the 4th century, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the region. Towns such as Serdica (Sofia), Philipopolis (Plovdiv), Odessus (Varna) and Adrianople (Edirne) were significant centres of Christianity in the Roman Empire.

The barbarian raids and incursions in the 4th and the 5th and the settlement of Slavs and Bulgars in the 6th and the 7th centuries wrought considerable damage to the ecclesiastical organisation of the Christian Church in the Bulgarian lands, yet they were far from destroying it. Kubrat and Organa were both baptized together in Constantinople and Christianity started to pave its way from the surviving Christian communities to the surrounding Bulgar-Slavic mass. By the middle of the 9th century, the majority of the Bulgarian Slavs, especially those living in Thrace and Macedonia, were Christianised. The process of conversion also enjoyed some success among the Bulgar nobility. It was not until the official adoption of Christianity by Khan Boris I in 865 that an independent Bulgarian ecclesiastical entity was established.


Boris I believed that cultural advancement and the sovereignty and prestige of a Christian Bulgaria could be achieved through an enlightened clergy governed by an autocephalous church. To this end, he manoeuvred between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Roman Pope for a period of five years until in 870 AD, the Fourth Council of Constantinople granted the Bulgarians an autonomous Bulgarian archbishopric. The archbishopric had its seat in the Bulgarian capital of Pliska and its diocese covered the whole territory of the Bulgarian state. The tug-of-war between Rome and Constantinople was resolved by putting the Bulgarian archbishopric under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople, from whom it obtained its first primate, its clergy and theological books.

Ceramic icon of St. Theodor, Preslav, ca. 900 AD, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia St. Theodor.jpg
Ceramic icon of St. Theodor, Preslav, ca. 900 AD, National Archaeological Museum, Sofia

Although the archbishopric enjoyed full internal autonomy, the goals of Boris I were scarcely fulfilled. A Greek liturgy offered by a Byzantine clergy furthered neither the cultural development of the Bulgarians, nor the consolidation of the Bulgarian Empire; it would have eventually resulted in the loss of both the identity of the people and the statehood of Bulgaria. Following the Byzantine theory of "Imperium sine Patriarcha non staret", which predominated that a close relation should exist between an Empire and Patriarchate, Boris I greeted the arrival of the disciples of the recently deceased Saints Cyril and Methodius in 886 as an opportunity. Boris I gave them the task to instruct the future Bulgarian clergy in the Glagolitic alphabet and the Slavonic liturgy prepared by Cyril. The liturgy was based on the vernacular of the Bulgarian Slavs from the region of Thessaloniki. In 893, Boris I expelled the Greek clergy from the country and ordered the replacement of the Greek language with the Slav-Bulgarian vernacular.

Autocephaly (Patriarchate)

Following Bulgaria's two decisive victories over the Byzantines at Acheloos (near the present-day city of Pomorie) and Katasyrtai (near Constantinople), the government declared the autonomous Bulgarian Archbishopric as autocephalous and elevated it to the rank of Patriarchate at an ecclesiastical and national council held in 919. After Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire signed a peace treaty in 927 that concluded the 20-year-long war between them, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and acknowledged its patriarchal dignity. [1] [2] The Bulgarian Patriarchate was the first autocephalous Slavic Orthodox Church, preceding the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church (1219) by 300 years and of the Russian Orthodox Church (1596) by some 600 years. It was the sixth Patriarchate after the Pentarchy Patriarchates of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. The seat of the Patriarchate was the new Bulgarian capital of Preslav. The Patriarch was likely to have resided in the town of Drastar (Silistra), an old Christian centre famous for its martyrs and Christian traditions.

The Ohrid Archbishopric

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On April 5, 972, Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces conquered and burned down Preslav, and captured Bulgarian Tsar Boris II. Patriarch Damyan managed to escape, initially to Sredetz (Sofia) in western Bulgaria. In the coming years, the residence of the Bulgarian patriarchs remained closely connected to the developments in the war between the next Bulgarian royal dynasty, the Comitopuli , and the Byzantine Empire. Patriarch German resided consecutively in the Medieval Bulgarian cities of Maglen (Almopia) and Voden (Edessa) (both in present-day north-western Greece), and Prespa (in present-day southern Republic of Macedonia). Around 990, the next patriarch, Philip, moved to Ohrid (in present-day south-western Republic of Macedonia), which became the permanent seat of the Patriarchate.

After the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantine domination in 1018, Emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonos (the “Bulgar-Slayer”) acknowledged the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. By special charters (royal decrees), his government set up its boundaries, dioceses, property and other privileges. The church was deprived of its Patriarchal title and reduced to the rank of an archbishopric. Although the first appointed archbishop (John of Debar) was a Bulgarian, his successors, as well as the whole higher clergy, were invariably Byzantine. The monks and the ordinary priests remained, however, predominantly Bulgarian. To a large extent the archbishopric preserved its national character, upheld the Slavonic liturgy and continued its contribution to the development of Bulgarian literature. The autocephaly of the Ohrid Archbishopric remained respected during the periods of Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ottoman rule. The church continued to exist until its unlawful abolition in 1767.

The Tarnovo Patriarchate

As a result of the successful uprising of the brothers Peter IV and Ivan Asen I in 1185/1186, the foundations of the Second Bulgarian Empire were laid with Tarnovo as its capital. Following Boris I’s principle that the sovereignty of the state is inextricably linked to the autocephaly of the Church, the two brothers immediately took steps to restore the Bulgarian Patriarchate. As a start, they established an independent archbishopric in Tarnovo in 1186. The struggle to have the archbishopric recognized according to the canonical order and elevated to the rank of a Patriarchate took almost 50 years. Following the example of Boris I, Bulgarian Tsar Kaloyan manoeuvred for years between the Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope Innocent III. Finally in 1203 the latter proclaimed the Tarnovo Archbishop Vassily "Primate and Archbishop of all Bulgaria and Walachia." The union with the Roman Catholic Church continued for well over three decades.

Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371), an illustration from the Four Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander (the London Gospel), ca. 1356, the British Library Ivan ALexander and his family Tetraevangelia.jpg
Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371), an illustration from the Four Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander (the London Gospel), ca. 1356, the British Library

Under the reign of Tsar Ivan Asen II (1218–1241), conditions were created for the termination of the union with Rome and for the recognition of the autocephalous status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In 1235 a church council was convened in the town of Lampsakos. Under the presidency of Patriarch Germanus II of Constantinople and with the consent of all Eastern Patriarchs, the council confirmed the Patriarchal dignity of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and consecrated the Bulgarian archbishop German as Patriarch.

Despite the shrinking of the diocese of the Tarnovo Patriarchate at the end of the 13th century, its authority in the Eastern Orthodox world remained high. It was the Patriarch of Tarnovo who confirmed the patriarchal dignity of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1346, despite protests by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was under the wing of the Patriarchate that the Tarnovo Literary School developed in the 14th century, with scholars of the rank of Patriarch Evtimiy, Gregory Tsamblak, and Konstantin of Kostenets. A considerable flowering was noted in the fields of literature, architecture, and painting; the religious and theological literature also flourished.

After the fall of Tarnovo under the Ottomans in 1393 and the sending of Patriarch Evtimiy into exile, the autocephalous church organization was destroyed again. The Bulgarian diocese was subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The other Bulgarian religious centre the Ohrid Archbishopric  managed to survive a few centuries more (until 1767), as a stronghold of faith and piety.

Ottoman rule

As the Ottomans were Muslim, the period of Ottoman rule was the most difficult in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to the same extent as it was the hardest in the history of the Bulgarian people. During and immediately after the Ottoman conquest, a significant number of the Bulgarian churches and monasteries south of the Danube, including the Patriarchal Cathedral church of the Holy Ascension in Tarnovo, were razed to the ground. Some of the surviving ones were converted into mosques. Many of the clergy were killed, while the intelligentsia associated with the Tarnovo Literary School fled north of the Danube, where Bulgarian Boyars continued to rule in neighbouring Wallachia, but also in fellow Orthodox Christian Moldavia and Russia.

St. George, the Newmartyr of Sofia, icon from the 19th century George Martyr.JPG
St. George, the Newmartyr of Sofia, icon from the 19th century

There were martyrs to the Church as many districts and almost all larger towns in the Bulgarian provinces of the Ottoman Empire were subjected to forceful conversion to Islam as early as the first years after the conquest. St. George of Kratovo (d. 1515), St. Nicholas of Sofia (d. 1515), Saint Vissarion of Smolyan (d. 1670), St. Damaskin of Gabrovo (d. 1771), St. Zlata of Muglen (d. 1795), St. John the Bulgarian (d. 1814), St. Ignatius of Stara Zagora (d. 1814), St. Onouphry of Gabrovo (d. 1818) and many others perished defending their faith.

After many of the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church were executed, it was fully subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The millet system in the Ottoman Empire granted a number of important civil and judicial functions to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the diocesan metropolitans. As the higher Bulgarian church clerics were replaced by Greek ones at the beginning of the Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian population was subjected to double oppression political by the Ottomans and cultural by the Greek clergy. With the rise of Greek nationalism in the second half of the 18th century, the clergy imposed the Greek language and a Greek consciousness on the emerging Bulgarian bourgeoisie. The Patriarchate of Constantinople became its tool to assimilate other peoples. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, the clergy opened numerous schools with all-round Greek language curriculum and nearly banned the Bulgarian liturgy. These actions threatened the survival of the Bulgarians as a separate nation and people with its own, distinct national culture.

The monasteries were instrumental in the preservation of the Bulgarian language and the Bulgarian national consciousness throughout the centuries of Ottoman domination. Especially important were the Zograph and Hilandar monasteries on Mount Athos, as well as the Rila, Troyan, Etropole, Dryanovo, Cherepish and Dragalevtsi monasteries in Bulgaria. The monks managed to preserve their national character in the monasteries, continuing traditions of the Slavonic liturgy and Bulgarian literature. They continued to operate monastery schools and carried out other educational activities, which managed to keep the flame of the Bulgarian culture burning.

The Bulgarian Exarchate

A 17th-century church in Arbanasi. Arbanasi Architectural Preserve.jpg
A 17th-century church in Arbanasi.

In 1762, St. Paisius of Hilendar (1722–1773), a monk from the south-western Bulgarian town of Bansko, wrote a short historical work. It was the first work written in the modern Bulgarian vernacular and was also the first call for a national awakening. In History of Slav-Bulgarians, Paissiy urged his compatriots to throw off subjugation to the Greek language and culture. The example of Paissiy was followed by a number of other activists, including St. Sophroniy of Vratsa (Sofroni Vrachanski) (1739–1813), hieromonk Spiridon of Gabrovo, hieromonk Yoakim Karchovski (d. 1820), hieromonk Kiril Peychinovich (d. 1845).

Discontent with the supremacy of the Greek clergy started to flare up in several Bulgarian dioceses as early as the 1820s. It was not until 1850 that the Bulgarians initiated a purposeful struggle against the Greek clerics in a number of bishoprics, demanding their replacement with Bulgarian ones. By that time, most Bulgarian clergy had realised that further struggle for the rights of the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire could not succeed unless they managed to obtain some degree of autonomy from the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As the Ottomans identified nationality with religion, and the Bulgarians were Eastern Orthodox, the Ottomans considered them part of the Roum-Milet, i.e., the Greeks. To gain Bulgarian schools and liturgy, the Bulgarians needed to achieve an independent ecclesiastical organisation.

The struggle between the Bulgarians, led by Neofit Bozveli and Ilarion Makariopolski, and the Greeks intensified throughout the 1860s. By the end of the decade, Bulgarian bishoprics had expelled most of the Greek clerics, thus the whole of northern Bulgaria, as well as the northern parts of Thrace and Macedonia had effectively seceded from the Patriarchate. The Ottoman government restored the Bulgarian Patriarchate under the name of "Bulgarian Exarchate" by a decree ( firman ) of the Sultan promulgated on February 28, 1870. The original Exarchate extended over present-day northern Bulgaria (Moesia), Thrace without the Vilayet of Adrianople, as well as over north-eastern Macedonia. After the Christian population of the bishoprics of Skopje and Ohrid voted in 1874 overwhelmingly in favour of joining the Exarchate (Skopje by 91%, Ohrid by 97%), the Bulgarian Exarchate became in control of the whole of Vardar and Pirin Macedonia. The Bulgarian Exarchate was partially represented in southern Macedonia and the Vilayet of Adrianople by vicars. Thus, the borders of the Exarchate included all Bulgarian districts in the Ottoman Empire.

Map of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870-1913). Bulgarian-Exarchate-1870-1913.jpg
Map of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870–1913).

The Patriarchate of Constantinople opposed the change, promptly declaring the Bulgarian Exarchate schismatic and its adherents heretics. Although the status and the guiding principles of the Exarchate reflected the canons, the Patriarchate argued that “surrender of Orthodoxy to ethnic nationalism” was essentially a manifestation of heresy.[ citation needed ]

The first Bulgarian Exarch was Antim I, who was elected by the Holy Synod of the Exarchate in February, 1872. He was discharged by the Ottoman government immediately after the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War on April 24, 1877, and was sent into exile in Ankara. His successor, Joseph I, managed to develop and considerably extend its church and school network in the Bulgarian Principality, Eastern Rumelia, Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet. In 1895, the Tarnovo Constitution formally established the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the national religion of the nation. On the eve of the Balkan Wars, in Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet, the Bulgarian Exarchate had seven dioceses with prelates and eight more with acting chairmen in charge and 38 vicariates; 1,218 parishes and 1,212 parish priests; 64 monasteries and 202 chapels; as well as of 1,373 schools with 2,266 teachers and 78,854 pupils.

After World War I, by virtue of the peace treaties, the Bulgarian Exarchate was deprived of its dioceses in Macedonia and Aegean Thrace. Exarch Joseph I transferred his offices from Istanbul to Sofia as early as 1913. After the death of Joseph I in 1915, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was not in a position to elect its regular head for a total of three decades.

Second restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate

Sofia's patriarchal cathedral, St. Alexander Nevsky Bulgaria-Alexander Nevsky-02.JPG
Sofia's patriarchal cathedral, St. Alexander Nevsky

Conditions for the restoration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate and the election of a head of the Bulgarian Church were created after World War II. [3] In 1945 the schism was lifted and the Patriarch of Constantinople recognised the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Church. In 1950, the Holy Synod adopted a new Statute which paved the way for the restoration of the Patriarchate and in 1953, it elected the Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Cyril, Bulgarian Patriarch. [4] After the death of Patriarch Cyril in 1971, in his place was elected the Metropolitan of Lovech, Maxim, leading the church until his death in 2012. On 10 November 2012 Metropolitan Cyril of Varna and Veliki Preslav was chosen was interim leader to organize the election of the new Patriarch within four months. [5] At the church council convened to elect a new Patriarch 24 February 2013, the Metropolitan of Ruse, Neophyt was elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with 90 votes against 47 for Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech. [6]

His Holiness Maxim, the late Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia. Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria (2008).jpg
His Holiness Maxim, the late Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia.
Eparchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Eparchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church EN.png
Eparchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Under Communism (1944–89), Bulgaria's rulers worked to control rather than destroy the church. Still, the early postwar years were unsettling to church hierarchs. During 1944-47 the church was deprived of jurisdiction in marriage, divorce, issuance of birth and death certificates, and other passages that had been sacraments as well as state events. Communists removed study of the catechism and church history from school curricula. They generated anti-religious propaganda and persecuted some priests. From 1947-49 was the height of the campaign to intimidate the church. Bishop Boris was assassinated; Egumenius Kalistrat, administrator of the Rila Monastery, was imprisoned; and various other clergy were murdered or charged with crimes against the state. The communists soon replaced all clergy who refused to endorse the regime's policies. They banished Exarch Stefan, who had co-authored a book in 1948 that was considered anti-Communist. [7]

Bulgarian Orthodox priest Bulgarian Orthodox Priest.jpg
Bulgarian Orthodox priest

From that time until the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of Communist rule in 1989, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Bulgarian Communist Party and State Security coexisted in a closely symbiotic partnership, in which each supported the other. 11 (out of 15) members of Bulgarian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod worked for communist State Security. [8] The party supported the elevation of the exarchate to the rank of patriarchate in May 1953. The 1970 commemoration served to recall that the exarchate (which retained its jurisdictional borders until after World War I) included Macedonia and Thrace in addition to present-day Bulgaria. Along with other autocephalous Orthodox churches, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church does not recognize the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. [9]

See also

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Metropolitanate of Skopje

Metropolitanate of Skopje is an Eastern Orthodox Eparchy, currently under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, an autonomous and canonical branch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North Macedonia. Its seat is in Skopje. It is a Metropolitan diocese of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, headed by Archbishop Jovan Vraniškovski of Ohrid, who is also styled: Metropolitan of Skopje.

Eparchy of Veliko Tarnovo

Eparchy of Veliko Tarnovo is one of the eparchies of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the Bulgaria.

Eparchy of Debar and Kičevo

Eparchy of Debar and Kičevo is an Eastern Orthodox eparchy (diocese) of the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric, an autonomous and canonical branch of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North Macedonia. Its historical seat is in the city of Debar. Since 2005, the Eparchy is under administration of Bishop Joakim Jovčevski of Polog and Kumanovo.


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