Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church

The Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite sui juris particular Church in full union with the Roman Catholic Church.

Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church
ClassificationEastern Catholic
StructureApostolic Exarchate
Apostolic Exarch of SofiaBishop Christo Proykov
AssociationsCongregation for the Oriental Churches
LiturgyByzantine Rite
HeadquartersSofia, Bulgaria
Official websitehttp://www.kae-bg.org
BASA-154K-1-2 Joseph Sokolsky (retouch)
Archbishop Joseph Sokolsky, November 1872. Source: Bulgarian Archives State Agency
Raphael Popov
Raphael Popov (1830-1876), Bulgarian Byzantine-Catholic Bishop
Sofia Todor Bozhinov 041009 (0)
Headquarters of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church in Sofia, Bulgaria


Middle Ages

Under Tsar Boris (853–889) the Bulgarians accepted Christianity in its Byzantine form, with the liturgy celebrated in Church Slavonic. For a variety of reasons, Boris became interested in converting to Christianity and undertook to do that at the hands of western clergymen to be supplied by Louis the German in 863. However, late in the same year, the Byzantine Empire invaded Bulgaria during a period of famine and natural disasters. Taken by surprise, Boris was forced to sue for peace and agreed to convert to Christianity according to the eastern rites.[1] His successor Symeon the Great (893–927) proclaimed an autonomous Bulgarian Patriarchate in 917, which won recognition from Constantinople in 927 and lasted until the fall of the First Bulgarian Empire in 1018. In 1186 the Bulgarian state regained its independence. Pope Innocent III had written to tsar Kaloyan, inviting him to unite his Church with the Roman Catholic Church, as early as 1199. Wanting to bear the title of Emperor and to restore the prestige, wealth and size of the First Bulgarian Empire, Kaloyan responded in 1202. In this political maneuver, he requested that Pope Innocent III bestow on him the imperial crown. Kaloyan also wanted the Papacy to recognize the head of the Bulgarian Church as a Patriarch.[2] The pope was not willing to make concessions on that scale, and when his envoy, Cardinal Leo, arrived in Bulgaria, he anointed the Archbishop Vasilij of Tărnovo as Primate of Bulgarians. Kaloyan only received Uniate crown, bur not imperial. Meanwhile, in an attempt to foster an alliance with Kaloyan, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos recognized his imperial title and promised him patriarchal recognition. In 1235 the Patriarch of Constantinople recognized the independence of the Bulgarian Church and the right of its leader to the patriarchal title. The Ottoman conquest of 1393 put an end to that patriarchate, whose territory was reunited with that of Constantinople. In the succeeding centuries the Bulgarian Church was gradually Hellenized: Greek was used in the liturgy, and the bishops were ethnic Greeks.

Uniat movements

The rise of nationalism in the 19th century brought opposition to this situation. In the 19th century, there were three main Uniat movements in the then Bulgarians populated lands. They were connected to the nationalist emancipation from the Greek-dominated Patriarchate of Constantinople and its pro-Greek influence over the Slavic population living in the Thracian and Macedonian lands. The movement for union with Rome initially won some 60,000 adherents, but, as a result of the Sultan's establishment in 1870 of the Bulgarian Exarchate, at least three quarters of these returned to Orthodoxy by the end of the 19th century. The clergy's numerous shifts from the Orthodox to the Catholic Church and vice versa should not be viewed only as personal whims. They are symptomatic of the foreign powers’ game that the clergy got involved after the June 1878 Berlin Treaty, which left Macedonia and Thrace within the Ottoman Empire (after it had been given to Bulgaria with the March 1878 San Stefano Treaty). Thus, in the interplay between the Orthodox and the Uniat doctrine, Bulgaria supported the Orthodox Exarchate, and Russia supported Bulgaria. The Greek-dominated Patriarchate of Constantinople supported the Greek side. France and the Habsburg Empire supported the Uniats. The support of the Habsburg Empire increased only after 1878. The Ottoman Empire's attitude was ambivalent – sometimes supporting, sometimes opposing the Uniat movement, depending on how it had to balance its own interests in the game with the Great Powers.

First Uniat movement

This is the background of the approaches that some influential Bulgarians made to Rome in 1859–1861, in the hope that union with Rome would gain their Church the freedom they felt Constantinople was denying them. The leading figure of the Uniat movement was the Bulgarian merchant Dragan Tsankov, who had the support of Catholic France. He published the newspaper "Bulgaria" in Constantinople, in which he advocated a union with the Pope. It criticized Russia for its negative stance on the Bulgarian "church question" and published historical documents on the good connections between the Catholic Church and the Bulgarian kings in medieval time. The First Uniat movement originated in two centers: Kukush and Constantinople.[3] In 1859, Kukush citizens wrote a letter to the Pope, in which they acknowledged his administrative and spiritual leadership. In return, they demanded that no changes should be introduced to their Eastern rites of worship and that they would be the ones to choose their bishops and lower clergy, with the approval of the Pope. The letter stated that the teachers at the church schools are to be chosen by the domestic clergy and the education is to be pursued in the Bulgarian language and its "national alphabet". In December 1860, Constantinople became another center of the First Uniat movement. Dragan Tsankov, along with a delegation of Bulgarian spiritual and secular intelligentsia, handed a letter to the Papal Apostolic Vicar, asking the Pope for a church union. This act was sanctioned by the Vatican and the Ottoman government in the same year, thus paving the way for the establishment of a Bulgarian Uniat Church. Pope Pius IX accepted their request and himself ordained Archimandrite Joseph Sokolsky as archbishop for them on 8 April 1861. Though Archbishop Sokolsky, who had won recognition from the Ottoman authorities, as secular head of the Bulgarian Uniate community (millet basi) was almost immediately removed on a Russian ship and held in Kiev for the remainder of his life. By June 1861 there was no-one in Constantinople who could perform the Bulgarian Uniate services, a situation not remedied until 1863 when Raphael Popov was elected as bishop centred in Adrianople. At the same year a Bulgarian Uniate Gymnasium in Adrianople was founded.[4] The First Uniat movement spread into several towns and villages in Macedonia and Thrace, but they did not yield any concrete results. The reasons for the failure of the First Uniat movement could be found in the political character of the movements, rather than in the population's deep religious devotion. The people demanded its domestic clergy. They received it first through the Patriarchate, and then through the Bulgarian Exarchate, which was finally established in 1870.

Second Uniat movement

The Second Uniat movement started again in Kukush. In 1874, Nil Izvorov, the Bulgarian Orthodox bishop of Kukush, wrote a letter to the Bulgarian Uniat Bishop in Constantinople, Raphael Popov, saying that the will of the people in Macedonia was to join the Bulgarian Uniat Church. After that he sent a letter to the Pope as well, asking him for a union. His attempt of a union was successful, and in the same year he held services in his new capacity of a Uniat Catholic bishop. There are several interpretations of the reasons behind this union. Some authors stress Izvorov's personal motivation to go for a union. Two months after, Izvorov arrived in Kukush as an Orthodox bishop, he was called back to Constantinople by the Patriarchate and the Russian diplomatic services. Looking for a way to remain in Macedonia, he first approached some Anglican missionaries, but he did not get any support from them. Only after that, he turned to the Lazarists in Salonica and then to bishop Popov in Constantinople. Another researchers argued that Izvorov was not happy with his own position in the Exarchate, but added that the population too was not happy with the division of the local dioceses by the Patriarchate and the Bulgarian Exarchate and mistrusted both of them. That is why the ordinary people had an interest to join the Catholic Church. Historical sources show that the Ottoman government banned Izvorov from entering Kukush for several years. Bishop Popov took over his duties in Kukush, but in 1876 he died under unknown circumstances. In the same year Izvorov was promoted to be the Administering Bishop of all Uniat Bulgarians, directly subordinated to the Apostolic Delegate in Constantinople. After that he resumed his duties in Macedonia. That year, he became active once again in Central Macedonia, based at Kukush. In one five-year period, there were 57 Catholic villages, whilst the Bulgarian uniate schools in the Vilayet of Thessaloniki reached 64, including the Bulgarian Uniate Gymnasium at Thessaloniki.[5] Several years later in 1883, he was promoted to Archbishop of all Uniat Bulgarians and went to Constantinople. As of 1883, there were already two apostolic vicars. Bishop Michail Petkov in Adrianople was responsible to Thrace and bishop Lazar Mladenov in Salonica to Macedonia, both subordinated to the archbishop Nil Izvorov in Constantinople. Earlier on the followers of Catholicism of the Eastern Rites had a joint hierarchy. In 1884 Izvorov went back to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The personality of Bishop Mladenov was not less controversial than that of Bishop Izvorov. After the High Porte cancelled his accreditation as Bishop on the demand of the French Consul in Salonica in 1894, Mladenov turned also to the Bulgarian Exarchate. Then he returned to the Uniate Church. Nevertheless, this was the end of his career, he stayed in a monastery until the end of his life.

Third Uniat movement

By the end of the 19th century, the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church in Macedonia was based in Kukush with Epiphany Shanov as Bishop after Mladenov's excommunication in 1895. The other Vicariat was that of the Thrace. It was led by Mihail Mirov, who was proclaimed as also Administering Bishop of all Uniat Bulgarians, with sead in Constantinople as of 1907. In 1893, the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization emerged as the main Bulgarian factor in the Macedonian and Thracian lands. In the late 1890s, IMARO was extremely anti-Catholic. On its part, the Catholic Church did not support IMARO, because it was against any revolutionary movements in the Ottoman Empire. This attitude changed for a short period of time after the 1903 Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising. The Ottoman terror following the failure of the uprising prompted the Bulgarian Exarchate and the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church alike to embark on the same mission: helping the people to cope with the tragedy. However, this rapprochement was short-lived. After 1903, the IMARO revolutionaries and the Exarchate continued to act against the Catholic Church. The immediate effect of the partition of Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars was the anti-Bulgarian campaign in areas under Serbian and Greek rule. The Serbians expelled Bulgarian churchmen. The Greeks burned Kukush, the center of Bulgarian politics and culture. Bulgarian language was prohibited, and its surreptitious use, whenever detected, was ridiculed or punished.[6] The Ottomans managed to keep the Adrianople region, where the whole Thracian Bulgarian population was put to total ethnic cleansing by the Young Turks' army.[7] As a result of the 1912–1913 Balkan Wars and the 1914–1918 First World War, many Bulgarians fled from the territories of present-day Greece, Republic of Macedonia and Turkey to what is now Bulgaria.

Bulgarian Uniate Church after the First World War

In 1926, an Apostolic Exarchate was established in Sofia for the pastoral care of the Byzantine Catholics in Bulgaria among them. This was arranged largely with the help of Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII, who in 1925 was named Apostolic Visitator and, later, Apostolic Delegate for Bulgaria, where he stayed until 1934. During the Second World War Bulgaria occupied the bigger part of Macedonia and Western Thrace. In 1941, the Uniat parishes went under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Exarchate in Sofia. Many of the clergymen and the Euharistinki sisters who had found refuge in Bulgaria earlier, returned to Macedonia and Thrace and resumed their work until the end of the war, when Bulgaria lost this territories again. Unlike other Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the Communist government that took power in Bulgaria after World War II did not abolish the Byzantine Catholic Church, but did subject it to severe restrictions, which are said to have been somewhat eased after the election of Pope John XXIII on 28 October 1958. At the end of 2004, the Apostolic Exarchate of Sofia had some 10,000 Catholics in 21 parishes, cared for by 5 diocesan and 16 religious priests, with 17 other male religious and 41 female religious.

See also


  1. ^ John Fine, The Early Medieval Balkans, p. 118-119.
  2. ^ C-tin C. Giurescu, Dinu C. Giurescu, Istoria românilor din cele mai vechi timpuri până astăzi, Bucharest, 1975, p.184
  3. ^ Bulgaria, Oxford history of modern Europe, R. J. Crampton, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-820514-7, p. 74–77.
  4. ^ Българите в най-източната част на Балканския полуостров – Източна Тракия, Димитър Войников. 2. Спомен от детството. „Коралов и сие", 2009 г.
  5. ^ National Claims, Conflicts and Developments in Macedonia, 1870–1912 by Basil C. Gounaris, p. 186.
  6. ^ Ivo Banac, "The Macedoine" in "The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics", pp. 307–328, Cornell University Press, 1984, retrieved on September 8, 2007.
  7. ^ Lyubomir Miletich, "The Destruction of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913", Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, State printing house, 1918. On-line publication of the phototype reprint of the first edition of the book in Bulgarian here, retrieved on September 8, 2007 (in Bulgarian "Разорението на тракийските българи през 1913 година", Българска академия на науките, София, Държавна печатница, 1918 г.; II фототипно издание, Културно-просветен клуб "Тракия" – София, 1989 г., София).


External links

Coordinates: 42°41′29″N 23°18′48″E / 42.6913°N 23.3134°E

Alexander Deubner

Alexander Ivanovich Deubner (15 August 1899 – 15 May 1946) was a Catholic priest after Orthodox one and again priest of the Russian Catholic Church of the Byzantine Rite, member of Russian apostolate and member of Russian diaspora.

Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Sofia

The Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Sofia (informally also Sofia of the Bulgarians) is the fourth, so far last and sole jurisdiction, covering Bulgaria, of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church (Eastern Catholic, using the Byzantine Rite in Bulgarian language).

As Apostolic exarchate (a pre-diocesan type of missionary jurisdiction for Eastern Catholics ?entitled to a titular bishop) it is exempt, i.e. directly dependent on the Holy See (notably the Roman Congregation for the Oriental Churches), not part of any ecclesiastical province.

Its cathedral episcopal see is the Cathedral of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Катедрала Успение Богородично Катедрала Успение Богородично), in Bulgaria's capital Sofia, which also has a Latin Catholic diocesan see.

Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Constantinople

The Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Constantinople (informally Constantinople of the Bulgarians) was the first missionary, pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church sui iuris (Eastern Catholic of Byzantine Rite in Bulgarian language). As Apostolic Vicariate it was exempt, i.e. directly dependent on the Holy See, and entitled to a titular bishop. It was created in 1861 and reorganized in 1883.

Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Thrace

The Bulgarian Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Tracia (informally Tracia of the Bulgarians) was the second missionary, pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church sui iuris (Eastern Catholic, Byzantine Rite in Bulgarian language).

As Apostolic Vicariate it was exempt, i.e. directly dependent on the Holy See, and entitled to a titular bishop.

Christo Proykov

Christo Proykov (Bulgarian: Христо Пройков) (born 11 March 1946 in Sofia) is the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Bishop of Sofia. He was ordained a priest on 23 May 1971, then appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Sofia and Titular Bishop of Briula on 18 December 1993. On 6 January 1994 Proykov was ordained bishop and on 5 September 1995 he became Bishop of Sofia.

Dimitar Popgeorgiev

Dimitar Popgeorgiev Berovski (Bulgarian: Димитър Попгеоргиев Беровски, Macedonian: Димитар Попѓоргиев Беровски, 1840, Berovo, Ottoman Empire – 1907, Kyustendil, Kingdom of Bulgaria) was a Bulgarian revolutionary from Macedonia.

He studied in Odessa where he met Georgi Sava Rakovski and fell under his influence. Later Berovski participated in Bulgarian legion in Belgrade. Then he worked as a Bulgarian teacher in Macedonia. For his anti - Greek Orthodox Church policy Berovski was jailed. For a brief period he became an adherent of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church. Later he emigrated to Istanbul and became one of the members of the Bulgarian Exarchate. In 1876 Berovski was one of the leaders of Razlovtsi uprising. He also participated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) and was a leader of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising.

Later he was authorized to telegraph to Constituent Bulgarian Parliament versus the signing of the Treaty of Berlin and in maintenance of Unification of Bulgaria and to represent Bulgarians from Macedonia on its sessions. After that he еmigrated in Bulgaria and worked as Bulgarian police officer and district governor in Kyustendil, Tsaribrod and Radomir. Berovski took part in the Bulgarian unification and in the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885. Later he supported Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMARO). Some of his personal belongings are kept in the monastery “St Archangel Michael” which serves as the city museum of Berovo.

Dragan Tsankov

Dragan Kiriakov Tsankov (Bulgarian: Драган Киряков Цанков) (9 November 1828 – 24 March 1911) was a Bulgarian politician and the first Liberal Party Prime Minister of the country.

Born in SvishtovTsankov was initially a civil servant in the administration of the Ottoman Empire, who in the 1850s gained a reputation as a supporter of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church. His paper Bũlgaria appeared in Constantinople in 1859 and espoused his religious positions. Funded by France, the paper argued that a Uniat with Rome was the only solution to Bulgaria. Indeed, Tsankov, who was educated by the Jesuits, helped to form the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church in 1861.Later he became closely associated with opposition to the Ottomans and the independence movement. Tsankov was initially opposed to the April Uprising but he soon changed his opinion and began to be active in support of independence. He served as deputy to Nayden Gerov in the Governorship of Svishtov during the brief period of Russian administration in Bulgaria.A leading figure in the drive towards independence, he became respected as the voice of moderate liberalism, as he was prepared to work with the Conservatives after 1879.After some failed attempts to form a Conservative-led administration, Tsankov was appointed as Prime Minister on 7 April 1880 with plans for a wide-ranging raft of reforms. His new reforms, which included the establishment of a militia, limited rights for Muslims and attempts to limit the power of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church alarmed Alexander of Bulgaria, who feared the possibility of a liberal revolution. A series of foreign policy errors involving relations with Austria-Hungary followed (largely caused by the lack of communication between Tsankov and the Tsar) and his ministry was forced to resign before the year was out.He initially kept an open mind about the military coup of 1881, although he eventually called on his supporters to oppose the new system by all legal means, resulting in him being placed under house arrest. However the failure of military rule forced Alexander to restore civilian government, with Tsankov returning as Premier on 19 September 1883 at the head of a coalition government. Tsankov's second rule was seen as largely transitional and it also saw the Liberal Party splitting, with Petko Karavelov gaining a large groundswell of support. Eventually he was dismissed as Prime Minister and replaced by Karavelov in 1884.After his removal from office, Tsankov split off to form his own party, the Progressive Liberals. Although the group did not see government until 1902 and the rule of Stoyan Danev, Tsankov remained an important figure in Bulgarian politics and a constant voice in support of ever closer relations with Russia until his death.

Emmanuel Staravero

Emmanuel (Meletius) Staravero (1819-1872) was a Greek bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople since 1840

and since 1861 bishop of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church.

Epiphanius Shanov

Epiphany Shanov (Bulgarian: Епифаний Шанов 1849–1940) was a Bulgarian Uniate priest.

Greek Catholic Church

The Greek Catholic Church refers to a number of Eastern Catholic Churches following the Byzantine (Greek) liturgy, considered collectively or individually.

The terms Greek Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Greek Catholic church and Greek-Catholic Church may refer to:

Individually, any 14 of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches which use the Byzantine rite, a.k.a. Greek Rite:

the Albanian Greek Catholic Church

the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church

the Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia

the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, in Greece and Turkey

the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church

the Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (officially the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic)

the Russian Greek Catholic Church

the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church

the Slovak Greek Catholic Church

the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Any other group of Eastern Catholics following the Byzantine rite:

the Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics

an Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful without proper ordinary, in 6 countries

The Catholic Church in Greece, a Roman Catholic hierarchy following the Latin rite in the country of Greece

Joseph Sokolsky

Joseph Sokolsky (Bulgarian: Йосиф Соколски, Gabrovo, Ottoman Empire 1786 – died in Kiev, Russian Empire September 30, 1879) was the first senior Eastern Orthodox Bulgarian clergyman who convert to Catholicism, thus becoming a pioneer of the Bulgarian Byzantine Catholic Church. Sokolsky negotiated with Vatican a formal union due to Phanariotes domination over Bulgarian Orthodoxy and gained Catholic recognition 1861 when Pope Pius IX named him Archbishop for the Bulgarians of the Byzantine Rite. He was also accepted in that capacity by the Ottoman Empire.

Lazar Mladenov

Lazar Mladenov (Bulgarian: Лазар Димитров Младенов) (July 11, 1854 – March 4, 1918) was a Bulgarian Orthodox priest and, later, a member of the Bulgarian Uniat Church in the Ottoman Empire and a convert to Eastern Catholicism.

List of Catholic churches in Bulgaria

This is a list of Catholic churches in Bulgaria.

List of cathedrals in Bulgaria

This is the list of cathedrals in Bulgaria sorted by denomination.

Macedonian Apostolic Vicariate of the Bulgarians

The Macedonian Apostolic Vicariate of the Bulgarians (Latin: Apostolicus Vicariatus Macedoniaensis Bulgarorum or Vicariatus Apostolicus pro Bulgaris Catholicis Macedoniae), informally Macedonia of the Bulgarians, was the third second missionary, pre-diocesan jurisdiction of the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church sui iuris (Eastern Catholic, Byzantine Rite in Bulgarian language).

As Apostolic Vicariate it was exempt, i.e. directly dependent on the Holy See, and entitled to a titular bishop.

Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

The Macedonian Greek Catholic Church is a Byzantine Rite sui juris Eastern Catholic Church in full union with the Catholic Church which uses the Macedonian language in the liturgy.

The Macedonian Church comprises a single eparchy, the Macedonian Catholic Eparchy of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed in Strumica-Skopje.

Panteleimon Sudzhaksky

Panteleimon Sudzhaksky (1793 – 25 February 1868) was a Bulgarian Orthodox (later Greek-Catholic) monk and founder of the Panteleymonovtsy religious movement.

Religion in Bulgaria

Religion in Bulgaria has been dominated by Christianity since its adoption as the state religion in 865. The dominant form of the religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity within the fold of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. During the Ottoman rule of the Balkans, Sunni Islam spread in the territories of Bulgaria, and it remains a significant minority today. The Catholic Church has roots in the country since the Middle Ages, and Protestantism arrived in the 19th century.

In the latest years, there has been a decline of both the historic religions of Bulgaria—Orthodox Christianity and Islam—, which shrank respectively from 86% in 1992 to 84% in 2001 to 61% in 2011 and from 13% in 1992 to 12% in 2001 to 8% in 2011. In the 2011 census, the question about the religious affiliation became optional, and thus 21.8% of the total population didn't answer. Until the census of 1992, Bulgarians were obliged to declare the historic religious belonging of their parents and/or ancestors, while since 2001 people were allowed to declare personal belief in a religion or unbelief in any religion (irreligion and atheism). After the end of the People's Republic of Bulgaria (1946–1990), the revival of Islam was stronger than Orthodox Christianity. With the international rise of Islamic terrorism in the 2000s, however, there was a growing disaffection for the Islamic religion among Bulgarians. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church has seen the most serious decline from 2001 onwards. The church's credibiliy has been undermined since the 1990s by its collaboration with the erstwhile Communist regime, fully revealed with the opening of the state's secret archives in 2012, according to which eighty percent of the clergy were members of the secret police.The Constitution of Bulgaria designates Orthodox Christianity as the "traditional" religion of the country, but guarantees the free exercise of any religion. Bulgaria has not experienced any significant ethnic or religious confrontation, unlike the case in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The religious communities in the country coexist peacefully. In fact, the capital Sofia is known for its so-called Square of Religious Tolerance; the St Nedelya Church, St Joseph Cathedral, Banya Bashi Mosque and Sofia Synagogue are located within metres of each other in the very centre of the city.

Sui iuris

Sui iuris, also spelled as sui juris ( or ), is a Latin phrase that literally means "of one's own right". It is used in both civil law and canon law by the Catholic Church. The term church sui iuris is used in the Catholic Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches (CCEO) to denote the autonomous churches in Catholic communion:

A church sui iuris is "a community of the Christian faithful, which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as sui iuris by the supreme authority of the Church" (CCEO.27). The term sui iuris is an innovation of the CCEO, and it denotes the relative autonomy of the oriental Catholic Churches. This canonical term, pregnant with many juridical nuances, indicates the God-given mission of the Oriental Catholic Churches to keep up their patrimonial autonomous nature. And the autonomy of these churches is relative in the sense that it is under the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff.

—Fr. Thomas Kuzhinapurath, Salvific Law, 1998

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