Clerics and laity in the town of Gotse Delchev voted on January 12 to shortlist two candidates for the vacant post of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan of Nevrokop.
Out of 10 candidates, the two who got the most votes were Bishop Grigorii of Branitsa, with 28 votes, and Bishop Serafim of Melnik, with 30.
Should the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, rule that the first round of the election was in accordance with canonical rules, the Synod will decide on January 19 which of the two shortlisted candidates will be appointed Metropolitan.
The vacancy was created by the death of Metropolitan Nataniel, who died at the age of 61 on his birthday, November 16 2013.
A public appeal by three local priests for the electoral process to be postponed on the grounds of disputes about it was turned down on procedural grounds by the Holy Synod, which said that an election could not be annulled before it was held.
Should the January 19 election of a new Nevrokop Metropolitan proceed as planned, the new incumbent will be third new member of the Holy Synod in recent months, after the elections of new metropolitans of, respectively, Central and Western Europe and of Varna.
Patriarch Neofit, who was Metropolitan of Rousse before his February 2013 election as Patriarch, continues to hold the Rousse diocese.
(Photo of a church in Gotse Delchev: Izvora)