The ownership of Bulgarian Patriarchate in the cathedral of Saint Alexandre Nevsky in Sophia is in danger

December 7, 2015. The Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria examined the application of the representatives of cultural and historical society “adherents” against the decision of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria in 2014, as the website reports.

According to the decision of the Bulgarian government, the ownership of the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia is assigned to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Bulgaria).

For this reason on 1st and 3rd October 2014, in the Patriarchal residence was solemnly signed an agreement to transfer the ownership of the Cathedral to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

On 8th October 2014, in the Hall of the Council of Ministers and in the presence of the representatives of the Orthodox Church and members of the Bulgarian government, a ceremony was held to transfer the ownership of the temple to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Then the prime minister of Bulgaria Georgi Bliznashki was awarded with the Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

On 7th December 2015, the trial was held at the Supreme Administrative Court on the issue of the ownership. The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church called all faithful to participate to common prayers in Sofia, in order to ask God to preserve the ownership of the Bulgarian Patriarchate on the Cathedral. Many priests and faithful gathered in front of the Supreme Administration Court to express their support to the Bulgarian Church.

During the trial, the applicants claimed that the construction of the church was made with public funds and private donations of citizens of Bulgaria. The transfer of ownership of the Cathedral by the Bulgarian government exceeded its powers and it’s a violation of the administrative procedure. They asserted that since the Bulgarian National Assembly determined the ownership of the temple as State propriety, the government cannot cancel this decision.

The lawyers of the Bulgarian Church explained that the transfer of the ownership of the temple does not affect the rights of the applicants, because the temple is accessible to everyone, even to those who do not profess the Orthodox faith. On the other side, the lawyers of the applicants claimed that legally there is no document before 2014, which gives the ownership to the Bulgarian Church and that there was no public debate for this issue.

The Supreme Administrative Court will decide within 30 days whether it will accept the application of the society “adherents.” This decision will be held in closed session. If it is positive, and the court recognizes the legitimacy of the demands, a meeting will be scheduled and they will decide about the fate of the church building.

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