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19-1 What are the roots of Bulgarian Orthodoxy


This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

19-1 What are the roots of Bulgarian Orthodoxy

(by by Luben Boyanov)
Bulgaria accepted Orthodoxy during the reign of Boris I. His son - Simeon I
(the greatest Bulgarian King) made the Bulgarian Church independent from
the Byzantine one. During the First Bulgarian Empire, the Bulgarian Church
(Patriarchate) had 2 'headquarters' (sorry don't know more details now) - one
in Turnovo and one in Ohrid. After the fall of the First Bulgarian Empire
(the Bulgarian capital of the last Bulgarian king of the First Bulgarian
Empire - Tzar Samuil was Ohrid) Emperor Basil II (the Bulgar-slayer) did not
abolish the Bulgarian Patriarchate in Ohrid. It survived (and was called
Bulgarian, even that it was headed by Greek clergy for a long time) until 1766
when it was abolished by the intrigues of the Phanariotes (this was part of
the Megali-Idea persued by the clergy of Constantinopol). The Patriarchate in
Turnovo was reestablished with the reestablishment of the Second Bulgarian
Empire and abolished with its fall - in 1393 (or maybe it was 1396 - the year
I remember given as the start of the Ottoman yoke).

Due to different reasons, Bulgarians know little on the one of the greatest
(and most important) events in their modern history - the reestablishment
of their own national church in the Ottoman Empire. This came after several
decades of struggle of the Bulgarians with the Phanariotes of Constantinopol
(Istanbul) (and the Russian diplomacy). The struggle (which actually
started in 1833 when the Bulgarians in Skopie and Samokov refused to continue
accepting the Greek clergy) ended with success (even the treath of converting
the Bulgarians to Catolicism was used) and on March 10th, 1870 (old style),
the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire issued a famous ferman (order), which
established the Bulgarian autocephalous Church under a primate entitled
Exarch, whose residence was at Constantinopol. On the 16th of Sept 1872,
the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy declared the Bulgarian Exrarchate schismatic
and the schism lasted until the late 1940-ies (or maybe early 50-ies, and
after that Bulgaria's church leader is Patriarch). The jurisdiction of the
Exarchate during its establishment was over 15 dioceses ('mitropolii'),
including Nish, Pirot and Veles (but not Varna !!!). Other dioceses were to
be added in case at least 2/3rd of the Christian local population so desired
(this was a not well known but truly democratic act during the 19th century
on the Balkans). In virtue of that, the Porte (i.e. the Ottoman administrati-
on) subsequently allowed Bulgarian bishops in Ohrid, Uskub (at present - Sko-
pie, Monastir, Nevrokop (at present - Goce Delchev), Dibra, and Strumitsa. The
Bulgarian Exarch was resident in Constantinopol until the Balkan Wars after
which (in 1913), he (at that time - Exarch Joseph) withdrew to Sofia.


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