After years of uncertainty and disputes about the ownership of Sofia landmark Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Bulgaria’s caretaker cabinet settled the matter by handing a title deed to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod.
The decision, taken by the cabinet at a scheduled meeting on October 1, establishes the right of the church to use the cathedral for an initial period of 25 years, the maximum period allowed by statute.
In a letter to the cabinet, Bulgarian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Neofit said that the Holy Synod was willing to manage the cathedral indefinitely.
The letter undertook that there would be no change in the use and purpose of the cathedral.
Caretaker Prime Minister Georgi Bliznashki described the October 1 decision as a historical act.
“It is important to understand that after today’s decision, the state and the church join hands to go forward together and I really like the decision being taken in this way, in order to calm the passions and create normal conditions for the functioning of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church”.
The state would not remain indifferent and would think about how to help the church in the future, he said.
Regarding the crypt beneath the cathedral, he said that after dialogue with the Holy Synod, it had been decided that the church would give the Ministry of Culture right of use to protect the interests of the state. This will enable the state to continue to use the crypt as a museum displaying a vast collection of icons.
(All photos: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer