The new Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Neofit, has rejected reports in the mass-circulation media that he will join a nationwide mass protest event scheduled for March 3, Bulgaria’s national day.
The protests were endorsed by Kiril, who was acting Patriarch before Neofit was elected, but Neofit – enthroned on February 24 – took a more measured approach on February 27, the day he held meetings with President Rossen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
“It is good that people are seeking their rights, but I have said to the protesters, seek them reasonably and honorably for the modern generation of the EU and Bulgaria,” Neofit said.
Asked how the church could help at this time, Neofit called for patience and for people to love one another and called on those in power to respect the wishes of the people as far as possible while bringing calm through political means.
At their meeting, Plevneliev said that the three pillars supporting the state system and determining the prosperity of the people were the church, the family and the school.
“The present (political) crisis is something that has happened before and will happen again, this is a democratic process and it is up to us to overcome the situation in an honorable way,” Plevneliev said.
Neofit also used his meeting with Plevneliev to repeat the church’s call for the introduction of religious education in Bulgarian schools.
On the state of the church, Neofit conceded that were controversies and varying opinions and he hoped that in future matters could be resolved through consensus.
Neofit, accompanied by the same delegation of senior clerics who were with him when he met Plevneliev, visited Borissov in the Lozenets hospital where the acting prime minister was being treated for high blood pressure.
According to the government media office, Borissov wished Neofit success in his role as Patriarch and expressed his belief that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church would continue to occupy an extremely important place in the development process of a modern Bulgaria.
“I will continue to help the church, as I have always done before,” Borissov said.
(Photos: president.bg and government.bg)