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Metropolitan of Kyiv was officially invited to funeral of Patriarch Neophyte

His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv, head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, was in Sofia, Bulgaria, and visited the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky.

As he announced, he arrived in the capital of Bulgaria upon an official invitation to attend the funeral of Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria. He was accompanied by Metropolitan Yevstratiy of Bila Tserkva.

At the entrance of the Patriarchal Cathedral, the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was warmly welcomed by the representative of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe, and the Ambassador of Ukraine to Bulgaria, Oksana Ilaschuk.

As depicted in the photos, Metropolitan Epifaniy stood inside the church alongside representatives of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid.

It is worth noting that Bishop Nestor of Korsun, representing the Russian Orthodox Church, was also present in the church.

In response to inquiries from the Bulgarian outlet on Friday regarding this matter and its potential implications, Metropolitan John of Varna and Great Preslav emphasised that “the Church maintains a separation from the state, and in matters concerning these relations, the Church tends to remain reserved. Personally, it concerns me.

Indeed, the situation involving the Russian Orthodox Church is sensitive and requires careful consideration. An individual whose status has not been determined may be in attendance. And this is the individual representing the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epifaniy, who has not been formally invited by us, but I understand that he will be present. And if he participates in the funeral service, it could potentially cause confusion for many. Prudence is needed.”

Metropolitan Epifaniy prayed for the late Patriarch Neophyte and did not participate in the funeral service.

Photographs: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate