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Orthodox Church of Bulgaria Elects New Patriarch

Metropolitan Neofit, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria (File photo: BGNES)Metropolitan Neofit, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria (File photo: BGNES)On Sunday, February 24, 2013, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria elected His Eminence Metropolitan Neofit of Ruse to succeed His Holiness the late Patriarch Maxim, who reposed at the age of 98 in November of last year. Immediately following his election, Patriarch Neofit and the other members of the Synod processed to Sofia’s Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral for his Enthronement.

Born Simeon Dimitrov, the 67-year-old bishop enjoyed a close relationship with the late Patriarch Maxim, a hierarch who led the Bulgarian Church through the turbulent transitional years prior to and after the fall of Communism. A skilled church musician, Patriarch Neofit specialized in liturgical music at the Moscow Theological Academy, and later served as conductor of the Theological Academy Choir in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Tonsured in 1975, subsequently ordained and then consecrated to the episcopacy in 1985, the Patriarch held several key posts in the Bulgarian Church, including Rector of the Theological Academy, Dean of the Theological Faculty of Sofia University, Secretary of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan of Dorostolski Cherven and finally, Metropolitan of Ruse. "He is generally acclaimed as an erudite man and one of the best diplomats of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church," noted the Global Post.

"The high church post predisposes us to manifestation of pride, but the awareness of weak human strength leads us to a humble prayer," said the newly enthroned Patriarch in his remarks at his Enthronement. "The cross the Holy Church lays on my humble shoulders is heavy. I beg for God’s strength which displays in feebleness" (English translation). Patriarch Neofit's new title is His Holiness Neofit, Patriarch of Bulgaria and Metropolitan of Sofia.