Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit has sent a letter of support for an initiative that insists on a uniform definition of marriage and family in the European Union, directed against same-sex marriage.
A copy of the letter from Neofit, who chairs the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body the Holy Synod, was posted on the website of Bulgaria’s Society and Values Association.
The “Mom, Dad and the Kids” initiative is a “European Citizens’ Initiative” that started from Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia, Sweden, France, Portugal and Germany, against “the increased undue pressure from Brussels in recent years to redefine marriage”.
The initiative is a response to a reported statement by European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans in June 2015, that “the Commission should go forward and try to get all member states in the EU to unreservedly accept same-sex marriage as other marriages”.
In the letter, Patriarch Neofit says that the Orthodox Church “is the guardian of traditional marriage” and it is good to support the “Mom, Dad and Kids” initiative and the church gives it its blessing and support to protect the right of each EU member state to itself define its policy in the field of marriage and family.
According to the initiative’s website, it requires the support of a million EU citizens by December 10, and so far has gathered a third of the required signatures.
The initiative, which has been registered with the European Commission, needs to surpass the threshold of million signatures for it to be discussed by the Commission.
Those behind the initiative want marriage to be defined in EU regulation as “a union between a man and a woman and family is based on marriage and/or descent. as a union between a man and a woman, and the family”.
They say that Article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU gives each EU member state the right alone to determine its policy in the field of marriage and family.
Bulgaria’s constitution, approved in 1991, appears to preclude same-sex marriage. Article 46 (1) of the Bulgarian constitution says: “Matrimony shall be a free union between a man and a woman. Only a civil marriage shall be legal”.
According to the 2011 census in Bulgaria, about 60 per cent of the population declared themselves to be Eastern Orthodox Christians.