Russian Patriarch Kirill Visits Bulgaria for National Day

Sofia, March 2 (BTA) - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has arrived on a visit to Bulgaria from March 2 to 4 at the invitation of the Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan of Sofia Neophyte and the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill is heading a Russian clerical delegation on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule.

The visit will continue until March 4.

This is the second visit of Patriarch Kirill after his first visit in 2012. At the time the Bulgarian church was headed by the late Patriarch Maxim.

Stepping on Bulgarian soil, Patriarch Kirill said that the Russian and the Bulgarian people have a profound spiritual connection which is expressed by the church. "I will gladly confirm that today this spiritual role which unites peoples is entirely undertaken by the Bulgarian and the Russian Orthodox churches, which maintain fraternal relations and feelings of solidarity," he said.

Upon his arrival, Patriarch Kirill officiated at a prayer service at the St. Tsar Boris-Michael chapel of the Holy Synod. After that he conferred with Patriarch Neophyte.

Addressing Patriarch Neophyte and the metropolitans of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill said that the Russian Orthodox Church has always remembered that the disciples of the holy apostles Cyril and Methodius were the ones "who educated our forebears and introduced them to the Slavonic alphabet, not to mention opening the vistas of Christian culture treasures."

In his words, "that is why thousands of Russian soldiers who forsake their lives to liberate Bulgaria from bondage, repaid Bulgarians this great historical duty, which has been evidence of the fraternal love between the two churches through the centuries".

Patriarch Kirill expressed his gratitude for the invitation to visit Bulgaria, the celebration in Sofia and the opportunity to visit places associated with the heroic deeds of the Russian and the Bulgarian soldiers.

Addressing Patriarch Kirill, the Bulgarian Patriarch said that on the eve of March 3 Bulgaria welcomes him with sincere love and yet again confirms those fraternal feelings and gratitude it has always had towards the Russian people and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Neophyte said this visit is a "great honour for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, a true spiritual celebration and yet another evidence of the firm relations between the two peoples."

Approached about the stance of the Russian Orthodox Church on the desire of the Macedonian church for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to become its mother church, Alexander Volkov, Patriarch Kirill's press secretary, said that "it is a complex and very important issue which can be resolved by the two countries." "We cannot predict any outcomes but in any case the Russian Orthodox Church are following very closely the negotiations."

Source: Sofia