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Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 #289435 05/22/08 09:47 AM
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Halia12 Offline OP
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http://www.sofiaecho.com/article/bulgarian-orthodox-church-rejects-ch... date-of-christmas/id_29385/catid_66

Bulgarian Orthodox Church rejects changing the date of Christmas
20:29 Sat 17 May 2008 - Clive Leviev-Sawyer

In a decision on an issue that symbolises the divisions in the
Bulgarian Orthodox Church, its national council has turned down a proposal to return to the Julian calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7.

The decision was taken at the sixth National Orthodox Church Council, which began meeting on May 14 and closes on May 18. The council is discussing wide range of issues, including the permissible minimum age limit for its head, to be elected after the death of Patriarch Maxim, who is in his 90s and in frail health.
"There is no need to change the calendar, more so because Bulgaria is on the road to Western Europe where holidays are established and are celebrated on the same day," the spokesperson for the council, Patriarch Tihon, was quoted as saying by Bulgaria's Focus news agency.

Bulgaria, as a country, changed from the Julian to the Gregorian
calendar in March 1916. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church made the change in 1968, sparking a long-running feud between "Old Calendarists" and "New Calendarists" which resurfaced on the agenda of this year's council meeting at Rila Monastery.
Among countries where the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church
dominates, Russia, Georgia and Serbia celebrate Christmas on January 7. Armenia, on a slightly different calendar celebrates on January 6. The Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on December 25.

The 2008 council, attended by 190 delegates, is significant because rivals in the church are preparing for the time when Patriarch Maxim, now 93 and who has been head of the church since 1971, will die. There has been severe strife in the church during his leadership, especially after the fall of communism, when there were attempts by anti-communist political and church forces to oust him. Maxim's ill health was given as the reason for the postponement of this council's meeting two years ago.
However, observers of the church note that Maxim's continued
presence, in spite of his frailty which has kept him away from a
vigorous public role, is keeping the lid on disputes between rival factions on serious issues, from the direction the church should take as a social force, to whether to allow the alienation of church property for real estate development.
One idea doing the rounds at the Rila gathering was whether to lower the minimum age for a Patriarch from 50 to 45 or even 40.

Another debate which symbolises the tension between conservatives and reformists is about whether to stop using Church Slavonic at services and adopt modern Bulgarian to enable churchgoers to easily understand what is being said.

Standart newspaper reported on May 14 that an idea to reduce the size of the Holy Synod had numerous supporters. The reform envisages that the Holy Synod would be cut down to six metropolitans, applying a rotation principle for replacements.
On May 17, it was announced that the council would probably soon
resume deliberations because it was unlikely to complete its agenda.

In another decision, the council, which gathers both clergy and
Bulgarian Orthodox laity, decided to remove the word "People's" from the name of the gathering. Speaking on May 14 at the opening of the council, President Georgi Purvanov said that the gathering should play an important role in strengthening the church's place in Bulgarian society. In a reference to the strife involving the church after the fall of communism, Purvanov said that there had been "negative events" that
had damaged the standing of the church, but this had been ended with the approval in 2002 of a new law on the registration of religious denominations.

According to a report by Bulgarian news agency BTA, Purvanov said that Bulgaria pinned its hopes on the Bulgarian Orthodox Church helping inovercoming the negative and alarming phenomena happening with the new generation that was born and grew up in the difficult years of Bulgaria's post-communist transition.


This is from a secular Bulgarian news source. Has anyone here been to Bulgaria?
I am surprised that Bulgaria adopted the New Calendar in 1968 considering how loyal the Bulgarians are to Russia.

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Halia12] #289441 05/22/08 12:40 PM
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Dear Halia,

It is basically the certain "push" towards integration with western Europe that is behind the move for the "Reformed Julian Calendar" (since Pascha in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania is celebrated on the same day with the entire Orthodox East).

Having come to know the Bulgarian Consul General here, I know the Bulgarians are quite intent in their westerly leanings. The move to lower the age for the Church heads and the reduction in the Synod's numbers are also intended to bring a "fresh, younger" look to it all with "progressive perspectives."

As you know, in the UGCC we have two calendars but have yet to adopt the "Reformed Julian" one where everything is Gregorian except how one calculates the date of Pascha. Happily, we have as yet no "Armenians in communion with the UGCC" to introduce yet another date for Christmas . . . (St Paissy Velichkovsky did count Chalcedonian Armenians among his followers - but please don't let that get around smile ).

The Bulgarian Patriarch is a strong leader, irrespective of his age, and the Bulgarians as a whole are an extremely determined nation - which is probably why they need strong leaders.

Recently returned from Nice,

Alex




Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #289442 05/22/08 12:57 PM
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Fr Serge Keleher Offline
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Christ is Risen!

Surely the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church are in communion with each other?

Fr. Serge

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Fr Serge Keleher] #289458 05/22/08 01:56 PM
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Bless, Rev. Fr. Archimandrite!

(I remembered you when we visited Isle St Honorat/Lerins last week which, as you know, is where St Patrick lived for a while).

They are indeed in communion with each other - but happily, the UGCC does not have sufficient Armenians among its members to feel obliged to declare Armenian Christmas Day on Jan. 6th a part of the UGCC tradition . . .

I've enough being obliged to celebrate two Christmases and two Pascha's with my own family . . .

Too bad you are not here any longer. Otherwise, I'd ask you to give some relatives a good Irish "talking to." smile

Kissing your right hand, I again implore your blessing according to the Holy Celtic Rite,

Alex

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #289476 05/22/08 03:00 PM
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It is basically the certain "push" towards integration with western Europe that is behind the move for the "Reformed Julian Calendar" (since Pascha in Bulgaria, Greece and Romania is celebrated on the same day with the entire Orthodox East).

Thank you for the info on the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

I can understand the present attitude with the economic temptations of contact with Western Europe, but why the change to the Modified or Reformed New Calendar by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1968 during the communist era?

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Halia12] #289579 05/23/08 12:19 PM
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Dear Haliu,

One reason was that the Church in Bulgaria wanted to be "current" within communist society, given that that society had brought in the civil calendar and that holidays that were formerly "church holidays" only were being celebrated by the secular society outside of the Church's sphere of influence.

The same thing occurred in Ukraine and Russia with New Year's Day. Everyone celebrated the eve before January 1st according to the civil calendar and, by force of that habit and tradition, January 1st became "New Year's Day" and not January 14th.

The Orthodox Church in those countries marked January 1st with the liturgical celebrations formerly designated for January 14th and it still does. January 14th today in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere is celebrated as St Basil's Day but without formally "undoing it" as New Year's Day according to the Old Calendar.

The Orthodox Church there adapted to the situation and the holidays brought in under the old regime, including May 9th celebrated as the victory of the Red Army. This day is also marked with liturgical celebrations by Patriarch Lubomyr.

I understand that St Valentine's Day is growing in popularity over there, but March 8th as International Women's Day (and the "Valentine's Day" under the communist regime) is still popular as well.

With the formal declaration of Old Calendar Christmas as a state holiday, there are Russians who refer to January 7th as the "second New Year" given that in Ukraine and Russia there is now the anomalous situation where New Year's Day is marked before the feast of the Nativity of OLGS Jesus Christ (just ask anyone who has received a Christmas card from over there!).

While I'm all for the Old Calendar, what I am against is: a) having two calendars operate simultaneously not only in one Particular Church, but also in parishes; b) Maintaining the Old Calendar as a political emblem rather than a religious tradition; c) Continuing with the Old Calendar by those who while insisting on keeping it, refuse to take the days off to celebrate them liturgically with their families and so contribute to their "de-churching" by the time the children grow up to become adults.

It is nice for those, including myself, to stand up on a soap-box to defend the Old Calendar.

Unless we address the SERIOUS pastoral issues that occur in the UGCC (as the example I am familiar with) in certain areas where the Old Calendar persists in the West, we will continue to have those serious issues that impact negatively on church life.

Alex

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Orthodox Catholic] #289596 05/23/08 02:54 PM
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Since the civil celebration of the new year has no religious significance, it is of no consequence to the Church when the civil government cares to have it. The ecclesiastical new year is on 1/14 September.

On the other hand, it is true that in Ukraine and in some other places there is a cultural persistence of the celebration of the "new year" on 1/14 January. When people wish to celebrate on that day, there is no reason for the Church to discourage them, and the appropriate Moleben' could well be offered.

Fr. Serge

Re: Bulgarian Orthodox Church Sobor May 14-18 [Re: Fr Serge Keleher] #290570 06/04/08 12:45 PM
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Slightly off topic...Dr. Alex, you mentioned that the UGCC does not have a sufficient number of Armenians among its members to introduce a third date for Christmas. Does this mean that the UGCC does have a certain percentage of Armenians in its membership? I would find that quite interesting. I also had no idea that the Armenians had a different date for Christmas. Can you imagine being part of a family with members from all three traditions? Christmastime would be quite an experience! smile


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