Pope appoints new head of Roman Catholic church in Bulgaria

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the eparchy of Saint John XXIII for Catholic faithful of Byzantine rite in Bulgaria presented by Bishop Christo Proykov, the Vatican said on April 8.

According to the current statute in the Roman Catholic Church, after reaching the age of 75, bishops resign, which becomes effective after its acceptance by the Pope. Proykov has headed the diocese since 1995.

Bishop Proykov submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in March 2021, which has been accepted as of today with the appointment of the new bishop for the diocese, the Vatican said.

The Pope has appointed the Reverend Petko Valov, of the clergy of the eparchy of Saint John XXIII for Catholic faithful of Byzantine rite in Bulgaria, until now parish priest of Dormitio Virginis in Novo Delchevo and eparchial chancellor as bishop of the same eparchy.

Valov was born on January 8 1966 in Sofia, Bulgaria, in a Christian family, and graduated in dental technology.

He studied philosophy at the Pontifical Urban College and, after transferring to the Pontifical Greek College, he attended courses in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, obtaining a licentiate in moral theology from the Pontifical Alphonsian Academy in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on October 11 1997 for the eparchy of Saint John XXIII.

He has held the following offices: since 1999, parish priest of Dormitio Virginis in the village in Novo Delchevo; since 2008, delegate of the Catholic Church to the National Council of Religious Communities in Bulgaria; since 2009, chancellor of the eparchy; since 2013, delegate of the executive council of the diocesan charitable foundation Nativity of the Lord for young single mothers; since 2020, secretary of the Interritual Bishops’ Conference of Bulgaria; and since 2022, chair of the governing board of Caritas Sofia.

Besides Bulgarian, he speaks Italian, English, French, and Russian, and understands ecclesiastical Slavic and Macedonian.

Of Bulgaria’s total population of 6 519 789 as of the September 7 2021 Census, a total of 4 219 270 said that they were Christians.

Of those who said that they were Christians, 4 091 780 (97 per cent) said that they were Eastern Orthodox, 69 852 (1.7 per cent) belonged to a Protestant denomination, 38 709 (0.9 per cent) were Roman Catholics and 5001 (0.1 percent) Armenian Apostolics.

A total of 13 927 (0.3 per cent) said that they belonged to “another” Christian denomination.

(Archive photo: St Joseph’s Roman Catholic cathedral in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia)

The Sofia Globe staff

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