The Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, on March 23 2014 elected Bishop Naum of Stob as the new Metropolitan of Rousse, to succeed Neofit who became the church’s Patriarch in February 2013.
The vote was unanimous, 13 to zero, with Naum defeating the other shortlisted candidate, Bishop Tihon.
The shortlist was the result of a March 16 vote by an electoral college in the Rousse diocese. At a meeting on March 22, the Holy Synod endorsed the first-round vote as in accordance with Bulgarian Orthodox Church canon law.
The election took place 20 years to the day of the election of Neofit as spiritual leader of the diocese on the Danube.
Bishop Naum, born in 1968 in Varna, graduated from Sofia University in 1994, having become a novice in 1990 and a monk in 1992. He tutored at a theological college from 1992 to 1996 and in 1997 studied in Greece the spritual life of the Greek Orthodox Church. The same year, he was appointed as a parish priest in the town of Veliki Preslav.
In December 1998, the Holy Synod appointed Naum an Archimandrite, and in 2004 appointed him Secretary of the Holy Synod. At the same time, he was appointed chairman of the church board of the Patriarchal Cathedral, St Alexander Nevsky. In March 2007, he was named bishop of Stob at the Alexander Nevsky catheral.
The list of those who have been Metropolitan of Rousse is not a long one. The first was elected in 1828 and whoever is chosen by the Holy Synod on March 23 will be the sixth to occupy the post.
The past year has seen a number of changes in the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
With Patriarch Neofit casting a deciding vote after an even split in the Holy Synod, Bishop Serafim of Melnik was on January 19 2014 elected the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s new Metropolitan of Nevrokop.
Rousse Metropolitan Neofit was elected Patriarch on February 24 2013, succeeding Patriarch Maxim who had died the previous November.
In June 2013, Western and Central Europe Metropolitan Simeon resigned on the grounds of ill-health, and Antonii (then 35) was elected to succeed him on October 27.
On July 9, Metropolitan Kiril died, with Yoan (44) elected to succeed him in Varna on December 22.