Special address of the holy synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church – Bulgarian Patriarchate with reference to the migration crisis
BELOVED BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
The stand of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church upon the so-called migrant issue has been set many times in the previous months as a point of public comment. As it usually goes our Church is being laid again under the charge of passivity. That is to say passivity in terms of lack of clear stands as well passivity in terms of lack of action. Let it be beyond doubt that the Orthodox Church, in its thousands of years of experience, jumps to no hasty decisions prompted by transitory situations. Neither does it take resolutions which are put forward justfor populist considerations or simply because they would be popular, being intended to pander to someone's opinion which might be considered authoritative at some specific moment. In view of its nature the Orthodox Church is obliged to assume its considerations in Scripture terms as well as in terms of the Divine Commandments and human history, this approach being meant to provide good pondering over any of the Church stands and resolutions with a view of the consequences of certain events as well as of the effect on the Orthodox people and the congregation members entrusted to our caring by the Lord Jesus Christ. Such an approach is strongly fitting the requirements of a situation of the type we see with the migrant crisis. A situation which, by its very nature, sets on the agenda not only the passing problems with the material shepherding and solidarity with the crowds coming in here but also the issue about the stability and existence of the Bulgarian state itself. Furthermore, it concerns the issue about the type of spiritual context and spiritual environment which are to be provided for the life of the Bulgarian Orthodox people if this stream of people goes on to the point of disordering the existing ethnical balance on the territory of our fatherland Bulgaria which is given by God to be inhabited by our Orthodox people. We have seen during the last months a tide of crowding people from the broken Middle East states and Northern Africa who are looking to find refuge in the European countries. And this crowding has turned nearly into true invasion. Let it be undoubtedly clear that the Orthodox Church nourishes sympathetic feelings for all those people who have already come here in our lands and who truly, not allegedly, need caring and support in accordance with our resources. But let it be clear, too, that the Orthodox Church is unquestionably against war, as it proves to be the major reason for the current human disaster. The Church has always examined the very causes of the disaster, calling thereupon for the elimination of these causes. If the causes for this process would not be eliminated, the struggle with the effects of it would be doomed to failure. We are helping and we would go on helping the migrants who have already come to our Fatherland, distinguishing them not by ethnical or national traits but still we consider that our government should on no account admit any more migrants to our country. Being Orthodox Christians and an Orthodox society, we are obliged to care for the ones who have already arrived here, doing that in accordance with our scarce resources but nothing more beyond that. The one who has set the ground of this problem should also be the one who needs to resolve it, yet it is not proper that the Bulgarian Orthodox people would be the ones who are to pay the penalty at the cost of letting our state to disappear.
Proceeding from this view of the situation, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church calls upon the Bulgarian government, if it stands as a government of an Orthodox state, to start submitting definitely and emphatically for active discussion in all of the forums and international organizations it joins the issue of immediate cessation of the hostilities in the Middle East and North Africa as well as of the elimination of the causes which have brought about the banishment of millions of men from their native lands. The cessation of the military hostilities is the primary and most binding condition and this cessation ought to be a major duty of every government which is willing to prove its philanthropy and observation of the European norms of humanity.
Next, we are explicitly demanding that our government would submit for discussion the issue of whether there are apparent facts of religious extermination of Christianity on these territories and in what way these facts fit the decrees of the interethnic and interreligious tolerance. We would like that our government would bring for discussion in the international organizations the issues about the ways of safeguarding the religious tolerance in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc. and about the types of precautions that the global democratic community would support for safeguarding that principle in these countries.
We consider that the Bulgarian government should concentrate its foreign-policy resources upon, as we mentioned above, the cessation of military hostilities rather than just manifesting solidarity with their endless continuation. Furthermore, it should provide for and take in consideration that it would be much better if the migrants who would possibly be received in accordance with some quota and who would be welcomed with open caring by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to be people who would fit well our environment. That is to say people who would not take as moral impediment or some other handicap the fact that they would be cared for by members of an Orthodox Christian community. For if they find this Orthodox support as something blocking their progress, then the Christian community itself in the years to come would be even more blocked than we can imagine now.
HEAD OF THE HOLY SYNOD
N E O F I T
PATRIARCH OF BULGARIA
† METROPOLITAN OF VRATSA KALINIK
† METROPOLITAN OF SLIVEN IOANIKIY
† METROPOLITAN OF VIDIN DOMETIAN
† METROPOLITAN OF VELIKO TARNOVO GRIGORIY
† METROPOLITAN OF PLEVEN IGNATIY
† METROPOLITAN OF LOVECH GAVRIIL
† METROPOLITAN OF PLOVDIV NIKOLAY
† METROPOLITAN OF DOROSTOL AMVROSIY
† METROPOLITAN OF WESTERN AND MIDDLE EUROPE ANTONIY
† METROPOLITAN OF VARNA AND VELICKY PRESLAV IOAN
† METROPOLITAN OF NEVROKOP SERAFIM
† METROPOLITAN OF ROUSSE NAUM