The Holy Synod building, centre, with a bell tower of Alexander Nevsky cathedral in the foreground.
A Bulgarian Orthodox Church metropolitan, among those officially identified as a former communist-era State Security agent, allegedly used a rolled-up newspaper to hit a reporter who asked him about the issue.
Bulgarian National Television reporter Eliana Dimitrova was among those who sought statements from a succession of church chiefs as they arrived on March 13 2012 for the first day of a monthly meeting of the church’s governing body, the Holy Synod.
In late 2011, the Dossier Commission – the body charged by law with researching and identifying people who worked with Bulgaria’s communist-era secret services – disclosed that 11 out of 15 members of the Holy Synod had been State Security agents.
Most of the arriving metropolitans declined to answer questions, in one case, Stara Zagora Metropolitan Galaktion, extending "blessings" to the journalists.
A Bulgarian National Television report showed Vratsa Metropolitan Kallinikos getting out of a car, holding a rolled-up newspaper. During an off-camera moment, he allegedly used the newspaper to hit Dimitrova.
Dimitrova is seen asking, "why did you hit me?" to which Kallinikos responds, "I didn’t hit you, shut your mouth". "But you did hit me," Dimitrova responds.
Media reports quoted Lovetch Metropolitan Gavril as saying that the dossiers issue would be discussed only if church head Patriarch Maxim – who was not among those identified as a State Security agent – decides to raise the issue again.
It is understood that an attempt to achieve consensus at a previous meeting of the Synod on a position on the "agents in cassocks", as Bulgarian-language media have dubbed them, ended in failure.