Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Sliven Ioanikiy dies

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan of Sliven Ioanikiy has died at the age of 84 after a long illness, the church’s governing body the Holy Synod said on its website on January 9.

Ioanikiy was born in the village of Pet Mogili in the Sliven district on March 2 1939 with the secular name Ivan Nedelchev.

He attended the Sofia Theological Seminary, graduating in 1958, and was a student at the St Kliment Ohridski Theological Academy from 1960 to 1964. He was ordained as a monk in 1961.

He held various clerical positions, and from 1970 to 1971, studied at the Faculty of Old Catholic Theology in Bern, Switzerland.

Ioanikiy was elected as Metropolitan of Sliven in March 1980, taking office in April that year.

In 2012, the Dossier Commission disclosed that Ioanikiy had been recruited to communist-era secret service State Security in February 1977, with the code-name Kirilievich.

He was one of 11 members of the 15-member Holy Synod of the time shown to have worked for State Security, all for the Sixth Department, which was responsible for “combating political subversion”.

Ioanikiy’s death creates a vacancy in the church’s governing body. The Holy Synod has yet to announce his funeral arrangements, and the date of an election to replace him.

(Photo: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Holy Synod)

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