Controversy attended the January 28 diocesan election to shortlist two candidates to be the next Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Vidin, who will also become a member of the church’s governing body, the Holy Synod.
Clergy and lay people from the diocese voted to shorlist, out of five candidates, Bishop Daniil, vicar to the Metropolitan of the United States, Canada and Australia, with 27 votes and Melnik Bishop Gerasim with 26 votes.
This was the result after a single round of voting, held by secret ballot. The numbers did not require a second round of voting.
The diocesan electoral college in Vidin is made up of six voters – three clergy and three lay people – from each of the five parishes in the diocese. Of the 30 electors, 29 participated in the voting.
The election was held to choose a successor to Vidin Metropolitan Dometian, who died in September 2017 at the age of 84.
If the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church deems the election to have been held in accordance with canon law, it will proceed to choose one of the two candidates at a sitting on February 4.
However, protesters in Vidin who had backed other candidates held a placard demonstration outside the church’s headquarters in the city, and said that they would send letters of protest to the Synod on January 29.
Vratsa Metropolitan Grigory, who is the acting Metropolitan of Vidin, told the media that the canon law of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had been kept to in the January 28 election in the diocese.
The statute, he said, governed the way that such elections were held “and this procedure does not include either protesters or rallies, nor processions or anything else”.
Protesters, reportedly backing Bishop Policarp to be named the next Metropolitan of Vidin, said that they would ask for a meeting with Patriarch Neofit, the chairman of the Holy Synod. They also intend protesting in front of the Holy Synod’s headquarters in Sofia.