Edit: think there’s a refuge in Orthodoxy? Think again before you follow professional poison pens line Dreher and Holy Steve.
Funny enough, this is from the often unreliable New York Times. The Orthodox Church has been unapologetic about its Communist legacy, perhaps it’s how the NYTs sticks it to organized religion?
SOFIA — His enthronement as patriarch of Bulgaria, spiritual leader of millions of Orthodox believers here, was supposed to stir pride and moral togetherness in an impoverished country confronting a vacuum in political leadership and widespread economic pain.
Instead, the installation of His Holiness Neofit last month, in a ceremony replete with byzantine splendor, served as one more reminder that Bulgaria had never really thrown off the inheritance of 40 years of rigid Communist rule and all the duplicitous dealings that went with it.
Bulgaria has suffered fresh turmoil since mid-February, when nationwide protests erupted over a rise in power prices. The national government resigned in what it said was a bid to avert more bloodshed. But this week, the country went into nationwide mourning over the death of one protester, Plamen Goranov, 36, who set himself on fire in front of a public building in his hometown, Varna.
The church has played no part in calming its troubled nation. Like 11 of the 14 metropolitan bishops who make up the ruling synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Neofit was revealed to have a file documenting or implying cooperation with the powerful secret police under Communism.
Proof of collaboration — for which the church has never apologized — was expected, but the number of bishops implicated when a state commission opened the files on church leaders in January 2012 “was beyond all expectations,” noted Momchil Metodiev, a historian who has researched the church in the Communist era.
By comparison with the 30-volume record involving Simeon, the Bulgarian Church’s current metropolitan for Western Europe, Neofit’s 16-page file was slender. While the file contained only a proposal by the authorities to recruit him as an agent and a negative assessment of his suitability for State Security work, the revelations raised tantalizing questions about whether more incriminating documents had been removed.
That such questions linger, more than 20 years after Communism, illustrates Bulgarians’ messy relationship to that past.
One day after the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, the Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov, who had been in power since 1954, was deposed, not by popular uprising but in a palace coup. The politics behind the act remained murky, meaning that his removal is still a matter of dispute.
Few Bulgarians can say the word “democracy” without irony or bitterness, because while they gained freedom and their country has now joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, it has remained poor and underdeveloped, with the riches most dreamed of under capitalism reserved for the lucky, often criminally connected, few.
And although State Security officially disbanded, its officials have retained a hold, contributing to the lack of clarity or debate about the past.
Many former agents went into private business and recruited wrestlers for muscle. Their networks, often criminal, gradually took over much of Bulgaria’s legitimate economy, helping to make Bulgaria notoriously corrupt, said Philip Gounev, a corruption expert at the Center for the Study of Democracy in Sofia.
Similarly, the church has not faced up to its past. “Just as people say that our country is in ‘state capture’ by criminals and oligarchs who have taken control of the state, the church is in a state of ‘state capture’ by metropolitans associated with the state security police,” Mr. Gounev said.
The church counters that it is, for instance, planning to canonize martyrs from the Communist era over the next two years, making saints of those found to have died or been imprisoned for the faith among the thousands of believers who were persecuted. “We can expect to close the page of our Communist heritage by this very symbolic act,” said Desislava Panayotova, from the cultural department of the Holy Synod.
But it seems that it will take more than canonizations to restore the church’s position as a moral beacon in an increasingly secular society.
After the state, the church is the second-largest landowner in the country, making it an attractive target for criminal groups. With its weak management and opaque institutions — the church does not, for instance, have a designated media spokesperson — observers say the church has remained aloof from any state efforts to clean up corruption.
While many historic churches and monasteries crumble from neglect, the Bulgarian news media relay a stream of shocking stories about church officials’ luxury cars, expensive watches, shady land deals and ties to questionable businessmen.
The Stara Zagora metropolitan, Galaktion, a close rival to Neofit in the recent patriarchal election, bestowed an honorific church title on a wealthy sponsor, Slavi Binev, a former taekwando champion and owner of a security firm who is now also a member of the European Parliament.
Mr. Binev was described in a 2005 WikiLeaks cable from the U.S. Embassy in Sofia as heading a group whose “criminal activities include prostitution, narcotics, and trafficking stolen automobiles.” In response, Mr. Binev told a Bulgarian newspaper that he was not perturbed to be on a list of people who were “the blossom” of Bulgarian business in the transition from Communism.
The metropolitan of Plovdiv, Nikolai, bestowed the same church title on Petar Mandzhukov, an international arms dealer, and later announced that he planned to sell his Rolex watch to pay the unpaid electricity bill for a church in his diocese, apparently hoping to quell public anger both at church riches and at the rising price of electricity that helped spark the recent protests.
The church has also been accused of paying priests in cash to avoid social welfare payments and taxes.
One huge challenge is healing the post-Communist schism of 1992, when priests who said they had opposed Communism formed their own synod.
Ugly disputes over church properties resulted, including physical fights. The police were called in during one particularly fierce battle over the church candle factory, a major source of income.
Mr. Metodiev, the historian, who describes himself as “anti-Communist,” made a surprising discovery during research in the secret police files. “The leaders of the schismatic synod were in fact the closest allies of the Communist Party in the synod during the Communist period,” he said.
One bishop notorious for implementing State Security orders — Kalinik, the metropolitan of Vratsa — remains on the church synod today.
Mr. Metodiev asserts that those with ties to State Security, particularly those recruited as young informers in the 1970s and 1980s, are now powerful, making the synod in fact more staffed by secret police than any other, including during Communism itself.
“The very idea of meritocracy failed,” Mr. Metodiev said. “People are now accustomed to developing their careers due to connections. This is one of the most damaging long-term results of the power of the State Security.”
"the riches most dreamed of under capitalism reserved for the lucky, often criminally connected, few." How is that any different from NYC?
No doubt patriarchs of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church each have a record of cooperation with the communist secret police. Undoubtedly too almost all modernist V2 Roman Catholic bishops have similar files of cooperation with the anti-christian American CIA. For crying out loud Wikileaks documents released in 2016 come close to evidence that the Obama Podesta Hillary CIA installed Pope Frankie in 2013.
You’re trying to equate the United States and what went on behind the Iron Curtain? 😂
Are you trying to blame Bulgaria for the tyranny going on in North America?
Did Skojec go Off the Docks?
Bulgaria is very poor because anyone with talent and education has moved to better opportunities abroad.
Yes. I think that he has gone full "playground".
He is calling Taylor Marshall and Patrick Coffin names.
Strange how these types end up eating their own.
According to the NewAmerican.com Behind the DeepState with Aex Newman the Podesta brothers have been doing business for decades with and are as of 2022 the top lobbyists for Bulgarian gangster and oligarch Delyan Peevski. John Podesta was WH chief of staff for POTUS Bill Clinton and top campaign strategist in 2016 for Hillary Clinton. And some people still think the modernist anti-christian American deep state is less corrupt and nefarious than the cold war Bulgarian government?
Skojec didn't join the Eastern Orthodox Church as Dreher did. Skojec is saying he is agnostic now.
And the Orthodox breathe a sigh of relief.
It was 1981 when JPII was shot in St. Peter's Square. Mehmet Ali Agca was the shooter. His handlers were Bulgarian.---In fact, there are pictures of two Bulgarians who were there to take out Agca. It was a little known nun who foiled history and the Russian KGB by tripping Agca. She actually saved his life and maybe even saved his soul.
Did Skojack have anything to do with that?
Skojec says he’s agnostic now but he is adamant that Frances is the true pope.
Now he can sit around and play video games all day without too mich
Does he still have an alcohol problem?
Sometimes people stop having problems with alcohol after a significant change in life. Steve still loves to brag on line about boozing, and he’s good at justifying himself, so he still has the behaviors of a drunk.
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