The Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of the United States, Canada and Australia, Joseph, has submitted his resignation to the Holy Synod, Bulgarian-language religious news website Dveri said on February 26 2013.
Joseph’s resignation comes two days after the election of Neofit of Rousse as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s new Patriarch. Joseph, who was in Bulgaria for some time as the spokesman for the church on the Patriarchal election process, said that he wanted to return to Bulgaria.
Joseph has offered his resignation before, in 2008 in connection with having been an agent for Bulgaria’s communist-era secret service State Security. While most of the Holy Synod were officially identified as having been State Security agents, Joseph is the only one not only to apologise but also to offer to resign.
If Joseph’s resignation is accepted this time, it will mean that there are not one but two vacancies in the Holy Synod, because a Metropolitan will have to be appointed to succeed Neofit in Rousse. This will open a contest over the balance of power in the church’s governing body.
In January 2013, The Sofia Globe published an interview with Metropolitan Joseph, which can be found here.
Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of the US, Canada and Australia Joseph was born as Ivan Blagoev Bosakov on December 6 1942 in the village of Slavovitsa in the Pazardzhik region. In 1961, he graduated from the Sofia Seminary, and in 1970 from the St Kliment Ohridski Theological Academy in Sofia. He became a monk the name of Joseph on April 12 1970 at Troyan Monastery in the diocese of the then Lovech Metropolitan Maxim. On May 3, 1970, he was ordained a deacon, and on December 27 1970 as hieromonk and was appointed coadjutor bishop of Lovech. After Lovech Metropolitan Maxim was chosen as Bulgarian Patriarch and Sofia Metropolitan in July 1971, he became coadjutor bishop of Sofia. From October 10 1971, Hieromonk Joseph’s conducted specialist theological studies at Moscow Theological Academy, where on July 21 1973, he was ordained archimandrite by Russian Patriarch Pimen. After returning to Bulgaria, he resumed his duties as coadjutor bishop of Sofia, which function to perform in December 1980 On December 7 1980, in the St. Alexander Nevsky Patriarchal Cathedral, he became hirotonisan bishop with the title Velichko and was appointed second vicar of the Metropolitan of Sofia. He was briefly Abbot of the Troyan Monastery, but from June 1 1982 he became the first vicar of the Metropolitan of Sofia, which he remained until the end of March 1983. From 1 April 1983, Bishop Joseph headed the Bulgarian Diocese of Akron in the US, and on April 17 1986 he was elected Bishop of Akron. After the December 18 1989 decision by the Holy Synod to restore the unified Bulgarian American and Australian diocese that had existed until 1969, on December 19 he was elected Metropolitan of the US and Australia. By the decision of the Fifth Assembly of the Church and Laity, held in Sofia on December 17 2001, he was named Metropolitan of the US, Canada and Australia. On November 27 2012, the Holy Synod designated Joseph as the spokesman on the Patriarchal church council election.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)