Bulgarien: Synod issues directives for clerical interaction with politics

Meeting in Sofia on September 9, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church considered the issue of clerical participation in political events in connection with the upcoming mayoral and municipal elections. According to the statement published on the Bulgarian Patriarchate’s official website, the Synod gave three short directives:

  1. According to canons 6 and 81 of the Holy Apostle, canon 10 of the 7th Ecumenical Council, and article 139.1 of the Bulgarian Church’s statutes, clerics cannot run as candidates for mayor or municipal councilor, nor can they be elected as people’s representatives;

  2. At the request of political parties, individuals, and associations, according to the requirements of the Orthodox Church, molebens and blessings with Holy Water can be held only in an Orthodox church;

  3. Clergy greetings to politicians must be of a spiritual nature.

Canon 6 of the Holy Apostles reads: “A bishop, or presbyter, or deacon must not undertake worldly cares. If he does, let him be deposed from office.”

Canon 81 reads: “We have said that a bishop, or a presbyter, must not descend himself into public offices, but must attend to ecclesiastical needs. Either let him be persuaded, therefore, not to do so, or let him be deposed. For no one can serve two masters, according to the Lord’s injunction.”

Canon 10 of the 7th Ecumenical Council reads: Inasmuch as some of the Clergymen, flouting the canonical ordinance and leaving their own parish, run off into another parish, and for the most part into this God-guarded and imperial city, and become attached to civil magistrates, conducting services in their oratories, it is therefore not allowable to receive these persons in any house or church without the permission of their own bishop and of that of Constantinople. If anyone should do so persistently, let him be deposed from office. As for any of the Priests who do this notwithstanding what has been said in the foregoing, it is not for them to undertake secular and mundane cares, as they are forbidden to do so by the divine Canons. But if anyone be caught red-handed in the employ of the so-called magnates (meizoteri), let him be dismissed, or let him be deposed from office. To come at once to the point, therefore, let him keep re-reading the divine Scriptures with the object of teaching children and servants and slaves. For it was to this that he was called when holy orders fell to his lot.

Article 139.1 of the Bulgarian Church’s statutes reads: “Clerics and monastics are prohibited from holding positions and assuming obligations in state and local governments, from participating in party activities and election campaigns, and from running for European, state and local governmental positions.” (Quelle: www.orthochristian.com, 2. Oktober 2019)