Bulgarian Orthodox Church begins process of electing new Patriarch

Bulgarian Orthodox Church dioceses began on June 2 playing their role in the process of electing a new Patriarch.

The process is intended to choose a successor to Patriarch Neofit, whose death at the age of 78 was announced on March 13 2024.

To be elected, the candidate must have been a Metropolitan of a diocese for at least five years and must be over the age of 50. The candidate elected becomes not only Patriarch, and thus head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body the Holy Synod, but also Metropolitan of Sofia.

On June 2, elections were being held of five electors – three clergy and two lay people – from each diocese, with the exception of Sofia, which elects 10 electors.

Those chosen become part of an electoral college, adding up to more than 100 people, that will choose the next Patriarch.

This body includes the current 14 Metropolitans as well as representatives of the Rila, Bachkovo and Troyan monasteries and the theological seminaries in Sofia and Plovdiv.

The candidates to be Patriarch must be shortlisted at least seven days before the election.

The Holy Synod will shortlist three on June 20 and the election will be held on June 30. To win, a candidate must get at least two-thirds of the votes.

(Photo, of Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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