Voting by the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, on which three of its number should be candidates to be the next Patriarch went to a 15th round of voting as the hours ticked by on February 15 2013, the first day of the secret balloting process.
After no decisive result, it was agreed to continue voting on February 16
Thirteen metropolitans were voting. Two metropolitans are ineligible to be candidates in the February 24 vote by an electoral college, in one case because he is too young and in the other because he does not have the required five years as head of a diocese.
Unconfirmed media reports said that in the initial rounds of voting, the only eligible candidate who had not been an agent for Bulgaria’s communist-era secret service State Security, Gavril of Lovetch, had failed to get enough votes to be one of the three shortlisted candidates.
However, it seemed that one candidate had in the first round of votes got the 10 required to make it to the shortlist – Galaktion, Metropolitan of Stara Zagora, who when he worked for State Security was Agent Misho. Galaktion is also linked to another controversy regarding the church, the naming of night club owner and wealthy businessman Slavi Binev as an “Archon” of the church.
The spokesman for the church on the Patriarchal electoral process, Metropolitan Joseph of the United States, Canada and Australia, told journalists that he could neither confirm nor deny that Galaktion had surpassed the threshold to be a candidate.
Two other metropolitans who were regarded as likely to make the shortlist included Kiril, Metropolitan of Varna and current acting chairman of the Holy Synod and an acting Metropolitan of Sofia, who has been a headline-maker for his Lincoln hybrid car. To State Security, Kiril was Agent Vladislav.
The other was Metropolitan Neofit of Rousse (Agent Simeonov of State Security). Neofit was said to be one short of the 10 votes required to make the shortlist.
If no result was achieved by the end of February 15, voting would continue on February 16, the Holy Synod decided earlier.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)