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Of all the Churches come out of the hell of Communism, none has suffered more than the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Already spiritually weakened before the Second World War, it found itself thrall to Soviet-style Communism after 1945. Utterly compromised by its erastian policies, its senior clergy, including Patriarch Maxim, have no moral or spiritual authority left either inside or outside Bulgaria. At the present time, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is actually split into three groups.

The first group, the 'Conservatives', consists of those whose self-interest lies in the continued status quo of kow-towing to the Bulgarian State and its Mafia connections. They are led by the inevitable and elderly Patriarch Maxim, who is unfortunately supported by certain Establishment cliques in other Orthodox Churches. Their preaching seems to be based not on the Gospel but on the 'need' to vote for whichever political party is in power.

The second group are younger and reform-minded and wish to see Patriarch Maxim resign in repentance for his collaboration with the former Communist authorities. They also wish to see various modernist type reforms to the Bulgarian Church.

The third and smallest group is led by a spiritual father, Bishop Photius, who is based at a Russian-founded convent outside Sofia. A learned man of moral and spiritual integrity and heir to the great Russian spiritual fathers of the first half of the twentieth century in Bulgaria, he has no political power.

The news at the end of July that a 'priest' (probably a provocateur of the notorious Bulgarian Secret Services dressed in a cassock) of the conservative faction beat to death a priest of the reformist faction who had been on 'hunger strike' outside the Monastery of St Panteleimon in south-west Bulgaria is therefore not surprising but still very saddening. The murdered priest had been protesting against the occupation of the Monastery by time-servers belonging to the conservative faction and no doubt this was enough for the Establishment to order the priest's murder.

The Bulgarian Church authorities are now reaping the whirlwind of the wind that they sowed in their Communist past. They compromised themselves politically. They must now go in shame and leave the way to the younger generation, so that the Bulgarian Church can return to the age-old Orthodox Tradition which will come if monastic renewal can take place under men and women not of politics but of prayer.

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