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Bulgarian Hierarchs invite Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to new Patriarch’s election and enthronement

On Saturday, 18 May 2024, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew warmly welcomed a large delegation from the Holy Church of Bulgaria at the headquarters of the Mother Church. The delegation was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholai of Plovdiv and included hierarchs, clergy, and lay pilgrims.

In his greeting, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his pleasure in receiving Metropolitans Nicholai of Plovdiv, Kyprianos of Stara Zagora, and Iakovos of Dorostol; Bishops Sionios of Veliki, Abbot of the Holy Monasteries of Trojan and Bačkovo, and Vissarion of Smolyan, Assistant to the Metropolitan of Plovdiv; as well as several clergymen. He also welcomed Mr. Radomir Cholakov, MP of the GERB party, former Plovdiv mayor Zdravko Dimitrov, businessman Boris Kalibacev, and a group of chanters.

“We pray for the repose of the soul of the blessed Patriarch Neophyte,” commented the Ecumenical Patriarch, who presided over the funeral service of the late Primate of the Bulgarian Church last March. He continued, “Yesterday, I received a kind letter from our brother and locum tenens, His Eminence Metropolitan Grigory of Vratsa, inviting me to be present at the election and enthronement of the new Primate of the Bulgarian Church. It is very kind of you to extend this personal invitation to the Ecumenical Patriarch for such a historic moment in your Church’s life.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch mentioned that although he had planned to visit the Holy Metropolis of Arta on June 30, the date of the election, he would endeavour to adjust his schedule. “I consider this invitation very important and blessed, and I hope the Metropolitan of Arta will understand and allow us to modify the program.”

Concluding his address, Patriarch Bartholomew emphasised the importance of unity and love for the credibility of the Orthodox Church during challenging times. “Your visit and our meeting at the Mother Church is historic and very important.”

The Patriarch expressed his gratitude to Archimandrite Charalambos Nichev, Hierarchical Head of the Bulgarian-speaking Community of Constantinople, and addressed the lay pilgrims, asking them to convey the Mother Church’s wishes and affection to their families. “The Bulgarian Church is the firstborn daughter of the Church of Constantinople. Despite past unpleasant moments, the relationship between Mother and firstborn daughter is sacred and indestructible,” concluded the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Metropolitan Nicholai of Plovdiv, speaking on behalf of the Bulgarian delegation, expressed their deep emotion and joy for visiting their Mother Church and celebrating the Divine Liturgy at the Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgarian-speaking Community in the Phanar. “It was a moment of great spiritual importance, a sign of the good relations and love between our sister Churches,” said Metropolitan Nicholai.

The meeting with the Bulgarian delegation took place immediately after the Holy and Sacred Synod’s session, attended by Synodal Hierarchs and members of the Ukrainian Church delegation, led by Metropolitan Yevstratii of Bila Tserkva.

In the evening, all attendees enjoyed a fraternal dinner at the Çırağan Hotel on the banks of the Bosphorus, exchanging souvenirs in a cordial atmosphere.

Photos: Nikos Papachristou