Bulgaria Declares Mourning For Patriarch

As the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Christian Church dies after 41 years in his post, the government has declared a day of mourning.Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers has ordered a national day of mourning on November 9 for Patriarch Maxim, who died 98 on Tuesday.

Maxim was the oldest Orthodox Church Patriarch in the world, and was at the helm of his Church for a record 41 years. He died on Tuesday after spending a month in hospital and will be buried on Friday.

In the 2011 census, 76 per cent of all Bulgarians who decided to answer the religious affiliation question declared themselves Orthodox Christians, or 59.4 per cent of the total population (the religious affiliation question was optional). There is no official religion in Bulgaria.

Pope Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to Grigorij of Veliko Tarnovo, Interim President of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church, I wish to assure you and all the bishops, priests, and faithful of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria that I join in prayer in your grief,” the message read.

The Pope said he remembered Maxim’s hospitality towards Pope John Paul II during his visit to Bulgaria in May 2002.

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