Istanbul: The View of a Bulgarian Theologian

Bartholomew’s Maidan

By Vasilianna Merheb

On October 11, 2018, after the Istanbul Synodal decisions [1], inspired by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, we were witness to an unprecedented coup attempt against the sacred canons and statutes of the Holy Orthodox Church through sole claims.

Obviously, this is an attempt for an authoritarian jurisdictional dictatorship, where the Orthodox Church is placed in an emergency situation, because the true face of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was finally and conclusively revealed (as well as his geo-religious ambitions).

After the announced anti-procedural synodal decisions, the Ecumenical Patriarchate fell into schism because the canons dictate anathema and excommunication for such serious crimes, which are sanctioned by three Apostolic rules, as well as decisions of several Ecumenical and Local Councils [2]. Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew, after these synodal decisions, voluntarily united with schismatics anathematized by the Church, namely the so-called Patriarch Filaret (Denisenko) and so-called Archbishop Makarius (Maletisch), who are private persons, that is, civilians excommunicated from the Church, who are not Her members. Accordingly, with its current action, the Istanbul (Ecumenical) Patriarchate itself automatically fell under anathema, that is, subjected itself to a deliberate self-excommunication from the Holy Orthodox Church.

With this spiritual act, the Ecumenical Patriarchate fell into schism, and these actions deprived it of participation in the Living Body of Christ. Every bishop is an Apostolic successor, and this action is tantamount to Juda’s betrayal. What is worse than that? Bartholomew (Archondonis) and the diocese he runs, all together, fell away from the Church because this is a renunciation of all the archpastoral vows he gave. It is only a matter of procedural time for this to be confirmed by an appropriate council of the other local Orthodox churches.

This act is an unseen defamation of the name and authority of the ancient Constantinopolitan office entrusted to Bartholomew, which, after the Istanbul synodal decisions, remained outside the graceful Salvific Ship. Unfortunately, this applies equally to the adjoining flock.

In fact, on October 11, 2018, a tragic historical event took place because it concerns the fall of a Patriarch who, through his deeds, instead of preaching Christ and His peace as a loving father and faithful fellow, he was self-dethroned, by leading an “ecclesiastical Maidan” in Ukraine.

Indeed, this day is sorrowful for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but in terms of ecclesiastical reality, it does not change anything, and none of the decisions has any canonical value. With such a self-destructive act, this formerly Local Church, led by Her former Patriarch, committed one of the most severe sins against the Church.

It is said that such an act (schism) cannot be washed away even with the blood of martyrdom (St. Cyprian of Carthage and St. John Chrysostom [3]). The attempt for a Church coup is perceived as purposeful encroachment for the tearing apart of the Body of Christ. It is the desecration of the holy Church canons in a criminal contravention of all accepted procedures, namely a bold invasion and direct intervention on the territory of another local Church and its associated jurisdiction. Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew also presumed to dispose through the auspices of the secular power, attempting through unlawful and illegal speculations, and political blackmail, to make aggressive encroachment against his brethren, subjecting them to an open murderous fratricidal war.

To this date, the so-called Ecumenical Patriarchate is a markedly archaic structure, whose name is an anachronism, dating from ancient Byzantium, and which essentially does not correspond with the modern Church reality. This is about one Istanbul Patriarch, who is self-titled as a successor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whose flock is currently small and weak. Therefore, the current so-called Ecumenical Patriarchate has a rather symbolic status. The Turkish Bishop Bartholomew has the status “first amongst equals in honor” on account of the former glory of this office, but in fact he has no authority greater than all the other primates of the Local Churches.

It can be said that his deformed self-perception for supremacy in relation to this title leads to a spiritual distortion, where the limits of his authority are deprived of the necessary moderation, and this is recognized by the poisonous fruit of pride, which leads to detrimental consequences. Examples of such unhealthy manifestations include numerous ecumenical initiatives such as common prayer with the Roman pope. Such activities are inspired by his U.S. bureaucratic friends, pursuing their geopolitical ambitions and goals.

Numerous are the facts that prove his direct dependence on a global shadow establishment, to which the Church is needed as an instrument for imposing a geo-religious policy that is essentially anti-Christian. It is no secret that the so-called Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, is named “Eastern Pope” and even “heresiarch.”

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov officially identified Bartholomew as a person who enjoys open support of certain political circles in the United States, as evidenced by the endorsements of the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker. It is often mentioned that Bartholomew (Arhondonis) enjoys the protections of the confessing ultra-liberal ideology of the former Obama administration, related also to the preparation of the Cretan robber council, “the Ukrainian Maidan”, and a number of staged world events.

The former Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, personally and publically stated that he supports the granting of autocephaly and “tomos”, requested by the Ukrainian Government. This coincides with the Obama administration’s actions regarding the coup in Ukraine.

The political claims and pretensions made by Bartholomew towards the Church, appears to be a complete absurdity, not only according to the Church canon, but also from the perspective of secular law (because Ukraine is considered a secular state which by its constitution has no right to intervene in Church affairs).

In this case, it is about a trans-Atlantic project directed outside the state of Ukraine, in which elections are coming soon. This imposes a sense of urgency within the regime because Poroshenko must be utilized while in power. There also seems to be a plan B. Recently on the political scene, there has appeared the scandalous politician, Yulia Tymoshenko, who officially announced her unconditional support of the church “tomos” (which in unseen ways points to a State priority). This also explains the forcing of the process, because in the U.S. there is a new administration, which does not adhere to the same values as the Obama administration.

In his desire to implement the strategy of his political supporters, Bartholomew (Arhondonis) seems like he is ready for any boldness and compromise. This explains his ambitious behavior over the years, where he perceives himself as a figure “above the Church” disregarding the equality of the primates of the other Local Churches. His leitmotif is first without equals”, which was glaringly demonstrated during the preparation and implementation of his Cretan event whose documents forebode that the “council” was a preparatory scenario for universal schism in the Church.

That is why we should not be surprised that over the years, Bartholomew’s image was crafted as “political Patriarch” of a papal model. This led to the current situation involving the collaboration with politicians who came to power with the coup in Ukraine and with politicians from the American Government with interests hostile to the Church. This is a political manipulation, using social engineering, (with the involvement of schismatics, uniates, atheists, protestant sects, Roman Catholics, and monophysites), for the implementation of the sinister objectives for the destabilization of Orthodoxy.

The Church history knows no such outrage: to grant autocephaly not just to a Church structure, but to schismatics canonically excommunicated from the Church, who are reduced to the status of civilians. On its own, this is a total absurdity, as Bartholomew himself ruled on the case of Ukraine in 1995 and declared that the Kievan pretenders are schismatics [4]. In fact, he participates in their canonical excommunication, (recognized by all local churches), and de facto he contradicts his own actions.

If his logic of giving autocephaly is to be followed, Mount Athos should join the Greek Archdiocese, as well as all the other geographic territories of the state of Greece, which now belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and are with the status of Stavropigi.

The Ukrainian question is an unprecedented violation of the principles of canon law, because only the one who has excommunicated can recover and assign those who were excommunicated. This would occur synodically by the ROC-MP, and a proper procedure with the accompanying spiritual actions. It would require repentance from the excommunicated individuals, and submission of a request for forgiveness, (which does not exist to this moment).

In this case, the initiative is by the Ukrainian Government and on behalf of President Poroshenko, who adopted the so-called “tomos” as if it has some magical properties that they rely on to guarantee them empowerment forever.

Given the criminal intrusion into the diocese of the territory of ROC-MP, in its defense, they should invoke the Church canons which were violated [2]. It is their full right to initiate its own council and to sanction the unilateral, anti-conciliar and self-willed actions of Bartholomew. Thus, it was in 1054 at a local council, when the schism was declared between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics, whose decisions were subsequently agreed on by the other local Churches. Such an approach is fully applicable because God is not in power, but in righteousness, and there is no need of numerousness to assert the truth.

The ROC-MP has the right and could initiate not only a local council, but also a Pan-Orthodox Council, to sanction all Bartholomew’s actions as null and void. Such a council could also consider the question of the second marriage of priests, which Bartholomew recently declared acceptable (which is anti-canonical [5]). Such a Pan-Orthodox format is suitable for consideration of urgent and pressing issues regarding the Church, such as the calendar style, and condemning ecumenism, (which has already been done at a Local Council of ROCOR 1983, as well as by saints). It is enough to announce and confirm the universal anathema against ecumenism.

Four Churches (Antiochian, Russian, Georgian and Bulgarian) have been offering a strong opposition to Bartholomew’s ecumenical and papal actions, as it pertains to the Cretan pseudo council. Surprisingly, two of them (Bulgarian and Georgian) did not respond convincingly to his actions in Ukraine. They are the only ones who have peremptorily left the World Council of Churches (UCC), and now they have shown an uncharacteristic lack of conciliar determination about the Ukrainian issue. Perhaps this has contributed to Bartholomew’s courage to be so bold, for in this, he has recognized a lack of visible resistance. Unfortunately, due to the deficit of a categorical reaction from the Georgian and Bulgarian Churches, temptations, seductions and alarming discontents have arisen among the people of God.

On the part of the Georgian Patriarchate, something appeared highly disturbing and atypical. They proclaimed that the issue of autocephaly should be resolved between Constantinople and Russia. Even in the secular law, the problem between two disputing parties is never resolved only between the parties themselves. Strangely, on the web site of the Georgian Patriarchate, an appeal was made to the clergy and laity, to maintain peace and not react with public dissent and protest. This is also an unsuitable approach for the Church, since the voice of the people of God is of paramount importance in making decisions.

As far as the reaction of the Bulgarian Holy Synod, it turned out that despite the synodical decision on the establishment of a commission on the issue [6], three hierarchs – Gabriel, Metropolitan of Lovech, John, Metropolitan of Varna and Veliki Preslav, and Daniel, Metropolitan of Vidin – came out with a statement [7], in which they offered an unequivocal signal fulfilling their archpastoral duty. They voted by their conscience, defending their brotherly Local Church (UOC-MP). They called for a Pan-Orthodox council to rule on the matter. Obviously, these Metropolitans felt compelled by a lack of consensus with the other archpastors, to give voice to their position, presenting an impeccable theological defense on the extraordinary crisis at hand.

It was a strange fact that two other archpastors – the Metropolitans Seraphim of Nevrokop and Gregory of Vratsa, provoked perplexity with their position, which is just a “dissenting opinion”. How should this be interpreted, given that it is stated in Sacred Scripture: “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.” (Matt. 5:37)?

The commission set up is completely unreasonable, and appears meaningless, given the dynamics of the processes and the reality of the situation. Are these hierarchs not aware of which the canonical Church in Ukraine is and which are schismatics? Are they not aware of the seriousness of the problem? Had they not been warned that the “tomos” or something similar, initiated by Bartholomew, was going to happen? Are they not aware that the Government in Ukraine has come to power with a coup and are waiting to get “a blessing” for legitimization by Istanbul, to begin to usurp “legally” all the holy places (monasteries and temples) with their adjacent sanctuaries? Have they been misinformed about the warnings that para-church formations of nationalist groups and fascist radicals, with the support of the army and official authority, have announced that they will take over the holy places by force? Is it not known that the clergy and the people of God are determined to remain faithful to the Lord and will defend their sanctuaries, even to death, following the example of the countless number of martyrs shining on the Russian land?

The question to arise is how this Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) Commission should act in such an extreme regime because, under the circumstances, it may be too late and they will not to have the opportunity to defend their brothers, and thus become a “bloody Committee”, which permits martyr’s fraternal blood to be shed. The bishop is responsible for his actions (or inactions) to each one of God’s souls in the world.

Here arises the logical question: Could the Church, which is a model of Christian virtues and values, if it allows such perversions, still be a Church? The seriousness of the problem necessitates the most acute retention of any attempts for encroachment on the sanctified, by the millenary practice of the Church canons, which are immutable foundation of Her Heavenly-earth set-up.

In general terms, for the Orthodox world, since the Ferraro-Florence’s Union in 1439, when the Constantinople Patriarchy fell away from the Church, (into heresy), uniting with the Roman Catholics, there hasn’t been a more severe trial. Perhaps, due to the dynamics of the situation, some local Churches do not realize the seriousness of the choice they are facing, because the lack of reaction questions their own status.

The Church of Christ is situated on the verge of a new time of division and each of Her local representation should stand and determine a firm position: Does it recognize the schismatic and illegal actions of Bartholomew? Does it unite with them? Does it remain in Eucharistic communion with him? Because, as I mentioned above, he who unites with schismatic, becomes a schismatic himself.

Our home BOC is also facing tribulation, therefore respectfully, it should determine whether it stands on the side of Truth, in a gracious continuity granted by God from its very establishment, or would it agree with the robber schism and become schismatic itself. Undoubtedly, for our hierarchs, a watershed moment has come: to determine whether they will remain faithful to God, or surrender to baneful schism.

The situation also creates a trial for every layman who will have to determine for himself which shepherd he belongs to, and who he will follow. The lack of a unified position would have fatal and irreparable consequences. The results could spark internal ecclesiastical schism, as a result of which the smoldering schismatic structures that mimicries on the territory of Bulgaria, (e.g. the self-proclaimed Metropolitan of Triadica Photius and similar to him), could be presented as a local exarchate of Istanbul and appointed as metropolitans.

This matrix is fully applicable also in neighboring Greece, Romania, Macedonia and the other countries in the region, where every schismatic, and impostor (or a suddenly appearing figure) could proclaim himself as a rightly teaching hierarch. Lack of resistance would lead to a tremendous spiritual disaster and severe destabilization of the region on an unprecedented scale creating a premise for religious war and threatening the national security of the countries.

Orthodox Christians believe that our hierarchs will soon manifest more courage and boldness, as it was before, in order to preserve the status and canonical image of our Church.

The seriousness of the situation is not about any sentiments regarding Russia or certain sympathy to persons of the political and Church sphere. An objective reading of the actions of the ROC-MP during the recent years definitely cannot remain uncritical to its ecclesiastical diplomacy and inter-confessional management, headed by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeev. Not to be ignored is the so-called Havana meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis which left the Orthodox world in perplexity, as well as the series of participations in various parts of the world in ecumenical common prayers and unfounded fraternal meetings and events with other believers.

However, as far as the case of the UOC-MP is concerned, the question is more than a matter of principle, because compromising the sacred canons of the Church is unacceptable and certainly cannot occur on the basis of personal bias. Each Church member, (from lay people to the episcopate), must conduct a ubiquitous examination of their free will, and make a choice.

Do we remain with God and His salvific truth in the blessed bosom of the Church, or will we fall away into the nets of the graceless false-church, waiting for the coming of the Antichrist? Let it not be so!

———————

Notes:

[1]https://www.patriarchate.org/-/communiq-1– “Announcement (11/10/2018)”:

“Presided by His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018, in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda.

The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length the ecclesiastical matter of Ukraine, in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishop Hilarion of Edmonton, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed:

1) To renew the decision already made that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.

2) To reestablish, at this moment, the Stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Kyiv, one of its many Stavropegia in Ukraine that existed there always.

3) To accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church.

4) To revoke the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through oikonomia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, elected by the Clergy-Laity Assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the First hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople.

5) To appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of Churches, Monasteries and other properties, as well as every other act of violence and retaliation, so that the peace and love of Christ may prevail.

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 11th of October, 2018

From the Chief Secretariat

of the Holy and Sacred Synod”

[2] Apostolic rule 10: “If any one shall pray, even in a private house, with an excommunicated person, let him also be excommunicated.”

Apostolic rule 32: “If any presbyter or deacon has been excommunicated by a bishop, he may not be received into communion again by any other than by him who excommunicated him, unless it happen that the bishop who excommunicated him be dead.”

Apostolic rule 35: “Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits, in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so, without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.”

First Ecumenical Council, Rule 5: “Concerning those, whether of the clergy or of the laity, who have been excommunicated in the several provinces, let the provision of the canon be observed by the bishops which provides that persons cast out by some be not readmitted by others.”

First Ecumenical Council, Rule 6: “…And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop.”

First Ecumenical Council, Rule 16: “Neither presbyters, nor deacons, nor any others enrolled among the clergy, who, not having the fear of God before their eyes, nor regarding the ecclesiastical Canon, shall recklessly remove from their own church, ought by any means to be received by another church; but every constraint should be applied to restore them to their own parishes; and, if they will not go, they must be excommunicated. And if anyone shall dare surreptitiously to carry off and in his own Church ordain a man belonging to another, without the consent of his own proper bishop from whom although he was enrolled in the clergy list he has seceded, let the ordination be void.”

Third Ecumenical Council, Rule 8: “…none of the God beloved Bishops shall assume control of any province which has not heretofore, from the very beginning, been under his own hand or that of his predecessors. But if anyone has violently taken and subjected [a Province], he shall give it up; lest the Canons of the Fathers be transgressed; or the vanities of worldly honour be brought in under pretext of sacred office; or we lose, without knowing it, little by little, the liberty which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men, hath given us by his own Blood.

Wherefore, this holy and ecumenical Synod has decreed that in every province the rights which heretofore, from the beginning, have belonged to it, shall be preserved to it, according to the old prevailing custom, unchanged and uninjured: every Metropolitan having permission to take, for his own security, a copy of these acts. And if any one shall bring forward a rule contrary to what is hero determined, this holy and ecumenical Synod unanimously decrees that it shall be of no effect.”

Fourth Ecumenical Council, rule 17: “Outlying or rural parishes shall in every province remain subject to the bishops who now have jurisdiction over them, particularly if the bishops have peaceably and continuously governed them for the space of thirty years. But if within thirty years there has been, or is, any dispute concerning them, it is lawful for those who hold themselves aggrieved to bring their cause before the synod of the province. And if any one be wronged by his Metropolitan, let the matter be decided by the exarch of the diocese or by the throne of Constantinople, as aforesaid. And if any city has been, or shall hereafter be newly erected by imperial authority, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes follow the political and municipal example.”

Sixth Ecumenical Council, Rule 25: “In addition to all the others we renew the Canon which prescribes that the rural or district parishes belonging to each church are to remain immutably assigned to the Bishops holding them, and especially in the case of those who managed to hold them for a period of thirty years without resorting to force. But if within thirty years there has been, or should be, any dispute about them, those who claim to have been wronged shall be permitted to bring the matter before the Synod of the province.”

Antiochian Council, rule 2: “…we decree that communion with those excluded from communion is not allowed, nor in another church is it to be allowed to admit those who have no admittance to another church. If anyone among the Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons, or anyone of the Canon, should appear to be communing with those who have been excluded from communion, he too is to be excluded from communion, on the ground of seemingly confusing the Canon of the Church.”

Antiochian Council, rule 6: “If anyone has been excluded from communion by his own Bishop, let him not be admitted by others until he has been accepted by his own Bishop. Or, a Synod having been held, if he has defended himself in answer to the charges and has convinced the Synod, and has succeeded in receiving a different verdict. The same rule applies to laymen and Presbyters and Deacons, and to all persons in the Canon.”

Antiochian Council, rule 13: “Let no Bishop dare to go over from one province into another and ordain any persons in church to promotion of the liturgy, even though he take others along with him, unless, having been asked to do so, he should arrive by letters of the Metropolitan and of the Bishops accompanying him, into whose district he should happen to be passing. But if, without anyone inviting him or calling him, he should depart irregularly to lay hands upon certain persons, and to meddle in the status quo of ecclesiastical affairs that do not concern him, all things whatsoever that he may do shall be null and void and invalid; and he himself shall incur a suitable sentence for his irregularity and his unreasonable proceeding, having been already deposed hence by the holy Council.”

Antiochian Council, rule 15: “If any Bishop accused of any crimes should be tried by all the Bishops in the province, and all of them have pronounced one decision against him in complete agreement with each other, let him no more be tried again by others, but let the concordant verdict of the bishops of the province stand on record.”

Antiochian Council, rule 22: “A Bishop shall not intrude upon another city that is not subject to his jurisdiction, nor upon a territory that does not belong to his dominion, for the purpose of ordaining anyone, or of appointing Presbyters or Deacons in regions that are subject to the jurisdiction of another Bishop, except, of course, with the consent and approval of the Bishop proper to the territory in question. If, however, anyone should dare to do such a thing, let the ordination be null and void, and let him be punished by the Synod.”

Sardinian Council, rule 3: “… no Bishop may cross from his own diocese or province into another province in which there happen to be Bishops, unless he be called or invited by some of the brethren therein…”

Sardinian Council, rule 15: “…if any Bishop from a different diocese wants to appoint another’s servant, without the consent of his Bishop, to any grade or rank, any such appointment shall be deemed invalid and ineffective. If any of us should permit themselves to do this, they ought to be both reminded and corrected by their brethren and fellow Bishops. “

Carthage Council, Rule 129 (133): “If anyone… brought some place to catholic unity and had it in his jurisdiction for three years, and nobody demanded it from him, then it shall not be claimed from him, if also there was a bishop during these three years who should have claimed it but kept silent.”

[3] Hieromartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage: “Remember that the founders and leaders of schism, breaking the Church unity, oppose Christ, and not only crucify Him for the second time, but torn the Body of Christ – and it is such a grave sin that the blood of martyrdom cannot make reparation for it!” (translation from https://spzh.news/en/chelovek-i-cerkovy/28648-is-christ-divided-about-church-schisms-in-the-language-of-holy-fathers)

St. John Chrysostom: “The sin of schism cannot be washed out even by the blood of martyrdom.” (translation from https://mospat.ru/en/2018/09/18/news163919/)

[4] Letter from July 11, 1995 of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia: “In this connection, we would like to assure you that the inclusion of Ukrainian communities [from the diaspora, that is, outside Russia and Ukraine] in the canonical order of the Orthodox Church through taking them under the omophoros of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will ultimately prove to be beneficial, assuredly for the relations of the most holy Russian Church with the faithful in Ukraine as well. Because, on one hand, those admitted will be obliged to state officially that they will not seek autocephaly for the Ukrainian Church or her part through the well-known methods of ‘autocephalists’ who use all possible means, while on the other hand, because they will not be able to cooperate or enter into communion with others without damage to themselves since for them the canonical principle will be valid: ‘those who communicate with those placed outside communion will themselves become outside communion.”

[5] Apostolic rule 17: “He who has been twice married after baptism, or who has had a concubine, cannot become a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.”

Apostolic rule 18: “He who married a widow, or a divorced woman, or an harlot, or a servant-maid, or an actress, cannot be a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the sacerdotal list.”

Sixth Ecumenical Council, Rule 6: “Since it is declared in the apostolic canons that of those who are advanced to the clergy unmarried, only lectors and cantors are able to marry; we also, maintaining this, determine that henceforth it is in nowise lawful for any subdeacon, deacon or presbyter after his ordination to contract matrimony but if he shall have dared to do so, let him be deposed. And if any of those who enter the clergy, wishes to be joined to a wife in lawful marriage before he is ordained subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter, let it be done.”

[6] http://www.bg-patriarshia.bg/news.php?id=273448 – „Решение на Св. Синод от заседанието му на 04.10.2018 г.” (Decision of the Holy Synod from its meeting on Oct. 10, 2018)

[7] http://bg-patriarshia.bg/news.php?id=273759 – „ИЗЯВЛЕНИЕ на Ловчанския митрополит Гавриил, Варненския и Великопреславски митрополит Йоан и Видинския митрополит Даниил“ (Statement of Metropolitans Gabriel of Lovech, John of Varna and Veliki Preslav, and Daniel of Vidin on the situation in Ukraine, see in English here:https://mospat.ru/en/2018/10/12/news165075/)