|Ecumenism in Bulgaria: still a challenge to take up|
Ecumenism is a difficult challenge at present in Bulgaria.The Orthodox Church, which went through harsh and painful stress after the fall of Communism, is very closed on itself and doesn’t favor dialogue with other Christian confessions.
One could say that it is rather against this. In fact, several members of the synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church readily stress that the only true Christian Church is the Orthodox Church with its Oriental Tradition.
A sign of this was the recent discussion of the Holy Synod to study the possibility of reintroducing the Julian calendar and celebrating Christmas on 6 January like the other major Slav Orthodox Churches, although since 1969 Christmas is celebrated in Bulgaria on 25 December with the Greek Orthodox Church.
This possibility that is not ecumenical, and is also considered as anachronistic by several representatives of the civil society, illustrates quite well the entrenched conviction in at least part of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church that spiritual authority should have preeminence over the temporal authority, when faced with the model of the Western society, which is materialistic and secularized, and that Orthodoxy is the only true expression of the Christian faith.
In faithfulness to the spirit of the Congregation and the specific goal of the Assumptionist Mission in the countries of Eastern Europe, the Plovdiv community has always tried to be open to hospitality and links of friendship with its brothers of the Orthodox Church.
At times it happens, in the Latin Catholic
Church of Bulgaria, that what divides us from the other Christian
brothers is more so underscored than what unites us.
On Sundays, our liturgical celebrations are often frequented by faithful Orthodox; there are also children of Orthodox families that come here on Saturdays for catechesis.
Besides, receiving the poor and visits to the prisoners always has the ecumenical trait of love that does not make any differences of faith. Recently Fr. Claudio and the sisters of Mother Teresa celebrated Christmas with our Orthodox chaplain and quite a number of “ecumenical” prisoners of the Plovdiv prison.
These are tiny signs that show that, nevertheless, even in Bulgaria, the unity of Christians advances.