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17464Bulgaria Orthodox Church remembers communist victims

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Feb 2, 2013

      Agence France-PresseFebruary 1, 2013 12:45
      Bulgaria Orthodox Church remembers communist victims

      Bulgaria's Christian Orthodox Church commemorated for the first time the
      victims of communist repression on Friday, 23 years after the toppling
      of the regime.

      A special memorial service was held at Sofia's Alexander Nevski
      cathedral by Varna metropolitan and interim patriarch Kiril, joined by a
      number of other Church dignitaries.

      "This is the first time that the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox
      Church has held nationwide commemoration services for the victims of the
      repressions," Kiril told AFP.

      Addressing the congregation after the mass, he said the Church had
      identified 152 priests who were persecuted after the communist regime
      seized power in 1944: 13 were sentenced to death and another 13 were
      jailed for life.

      The Holy Synod, the Church's top body, is now considering whether to
      canonise some of them, he said.

      "This stance is a crack in the wall of indifference of the Orthodox
      Church," former political prisoner Fredy Foscolo said after the service.

      In 2011, parliament designated February 1 as a permanent special day of
      remembrance for the over 7,000 people who were executed or jailed as
      "fascists" by the communists during their 45-year rule between 1944 and

      These included three former prime ministers, dozens of ministers and
      lawmakers, royal regents and advisors, teachers, priests, civil
      servants, prominent writers and journalists.

      The regime did not go as far as to close churches but imposed atheism,
      did not tolerate churchgoing and controlled the priests' rise in Church

      The opening of the former communist police archives revealed that 11 of
      the 15 Holy Synod members were former secret police agents who
      collaborated with the communist regime.

      Bulgaria's late patriarch Maxim, who died on November 6, was not on the
      list, but Kiril was.

      A Church Council is due to choose Bulgaria's next patriarch on February 24.