Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Sliven diocese shortlists two candidates in election of Metropolitan

In a vote in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church diocese of Sliven on May 19, two out of six candidates were shortlisted to be the next Metropolitan.

The election is being held to choose a successor to long-standing Metropolitan of Sliven Ioanikiy, whose death at the age of 84 was announced on January 9 2024.

The diocesan election was held for a second time, after the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, deemed the first – held on February 18 – to not have been canonical.

The two shortlisted candidates after the May 19 vote by clergy and lay people in Sliven are Bishop Arseniy of Znepol and Bishop Gerasim of Melnik.

Arseniy, 37, got 26 out of 42 votes in the first round of the diocesan vote, while Gerasim, 44, got 21 votes in the second round.

The next stage of the process will be a decision by the Holy Synod on May 25 whether the diocesan election was canonical. Should the church’s governing body decide that it was, it will meet on May 26 to elect the new Metropolitan of Sliven.

Arseniy is seen as close to Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai, who promoted him through the church ranks. Arseniy became head of Plovdiv Orthodox Television in 2009 and in 2014, vicar to the Metropolitan of Plovdiv.

Gerasim has been chief secretary of the Holy Synod since May 2016.

Whoever is elected Metropolitan of Sliven will, as part of the governing body, have a role in the election of a new Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to succeed Neofit, whose death at the age of 78 was announced on March 13 2024.

The election by the Holy Synod of a new Patriarch is scheduled for June 30. It will be held by the Patriarchal electoral college, after, on June 20, the Holy Synod shortlists three candidates.

(Photo, of St Demetrius church in Sliven: Edal Anton Lefterov, via Wikimedia Commons)

Please support The Sofia Globe’s independent journalism by becoming a subscriber to our page on Patreon:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292