Participants in meeting of Orthodox churches in Sofia release joint statement
The participants in the working meeting between the representatives of the Orthodox Churches have united around a joint statement concerning the issues raised in the European Court of Human Rights decision of January 22nd 2009 in relation to complaints № 412/03 and № 35677/04 about the people who separated from the unity of Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church told Focus News Agency.
In the statement the participants say that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is one and the disunity issue, which existed in it between 1992 and 1998, was resolved at a convocation on September 30th and October 1st 1998. The convocation decisions were made in compliance with the Orthodox Church cannons.
The participants in the meeting ask why European Court of Human Rights did not discuss and take into account these decisions. They say that according to the Court's principles and practice religious freedom includes respect to autonomous right of every religion. In the case of the Orthodox Church it is about a cannon right.
The Court's conclusion that the state has to be neutral about its traditional religion, Eastern Orthodox, is not an obligation included in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Religion Act adopted in 2002 by Bulgaria's National Assembly expresses Bulgarian national self-awareness and does not contradict European practice. The participants call on the Bulgarian government to protect the legal interest of Bulgarian Orthodox Church, taking the necessary measures to appeal against the Court's decision.