Patriarch Kirill of Moscow reiterated the issue of the expulsion of Russian clergy from the Μetochion of the Russian Church in Sofia, Bulgaria, in a statement.
As he characteristically mentions, the actions of the Bulgarian state bodies are “an unfriendly and unfair act against the dependency of the Russian Church”, referring to an unprecedented decision in modern history by the Bulgarian authorities, while he expressed his “deep regret for the implementation of humiliating measures that discriminate against the clergy with the obvious aim of damaging the friendly relations between the fraternal peoples and fraternal Churches”.
He also noted that “the full responsibility for the suspension of the Metochion lies with those who decided to expel the head of the Metochion and its executives”, in response to a letter from the Patriarch of Bulgaria who, according to the Russian Patriarch, expressed his concern about the suspension of the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Nicholas in Sofia.
The Patriarch of Moscow also informed Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria that a new head would soon be appointed by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow in order to open the gates of the Russian Μetochion as soon as possible.
Read the announcement of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
Due to the expulsion from Bulgaria of the head of the Metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sofia, Archimandrite Vassianos Zmeyev, as well as the secretary and officer of the Metochion, which took place on September 21, 2023, under the pretext that they “pose a threat to state security,” the operation of the Metochion was temporarily suspended and the church was locked.
During the following days, many Orthodox Christians came to pray in front of the locked gates of the Russian church, residents of the Bulgarian capital left flowers and notes on the street near the sacred reverence, expressing their protest against the police actions of the Bulgarian government.
In a message to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia expressed concern. In his reply, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church pointed out the unprecedented decision of the Bulgarian authorities in modern history and expressed his deep regret for the implementation of humiliating measures that discriminate against the clergy with the obvious aim of damaging the friendly relations between the fraternal peoples and fraternal Churches.
The Patriarch described the actions of the Bulgarian state bodies as an unfriendly and unjust act towards the Metochion of the Russian Orthodox Church, stressing at the same time the unchanging readiness of the Patriarchate of Moscow to assist the representative of the Patriarch of Bulgaria to the Patriarchate of Moscow in his service for the benefit of the two Churches and assured of the continued support for the operation of the Metochion of the Bulgarian Church in Moscow.
Sharing the concern of Patriarch Neophyte for the temporary interruption of the holy services and the sealing of the church of St. Nicholas, expressing sympathy to his parishioners and pious residents of Sofia, who are saddened by the inability to attend church there and pray before the tomb of St. Archbishop Seraphim of Boguchari, Patriarch Kirill pointed out that the full responsibility for the suspension of the Metochion lies with those who decided to expel the head and his executives.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church informed the Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia that the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate would soon appoint a new head in order to open the gates of the Russian Metochion as soon as possible. The letter also contains a request for facilitation to the clergyman during his forthcoming establishment in Sofia.
Concluding his message, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia expressed the conviction that the political forces behind which the enemy of the human race is hiding will not succeed in breaking the long-standing ties of love and brotherhood in Christ, which are at the foundation of the cooperation between the Russian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches.