Metropolitan Neofit of the Danubian city of Rousse was named Bulgarian Patriarch and Metropolitan of Sofia on Sunday in the country's
first election of a spiritual leader in 42 years and the first since the fall of communism in 1989.
The new head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was voted into office by a patriarchal election
council consisting of 142 delegates. He was chosen by secret ballot from among three candidates elected by the Holy Synod in 26 rounds of voting on February
15 and 16, the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) reported.
The election of a new patriarch comes after the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for 41 years, Patriarch Maxim, died in November at the age of 98.
The 67-year-old new patriarch, born Simeon Dimitrov, was among the closest associates of the
late Patriarch Maxim, from whom he took holy orders in 1975. His main task will be to bring disillusioned Bulgarians back to the church, address church unity, and
fight off attempts by various economic groups to profit from its property.