From the days of Juvenal

Probably the Phanariotes were not altogether so corrupt and so degraded as they were considered by their co-religionists. But they unquestionably displayed all the vices which, from the days of Juvenal, have characterized the Hellenic race, when in subjection to races of weaker intellect, but stronger will than their own. They were content to do the dirty work, which the Turks required doing, and were too indolent and too proud to do for themselves. One of the many sources of revenue, out of which the Phanariotes filled the Turkish Treasury, while at the same time levying toll for their own use, consisted in the sale of all the lucrative posts in the Bulgarian Church. For nearly five hundred years every piece of important preferment amidst the Bulgarian clergy, from the Patriarchate downwards, was put up to auction. As soon as the successful purchaser had enjoyed what the vendors considered a reasonable time in which to recoup himself for his purchase money, he was deposed by the Porte at the instance of the Phanar; and his place was again put up for auction. In the course of four centuries there are said to have been one hundred and forty Patriarchs of Bulgaria, so that the average tenure of the Patriarchal office did not amount to three years in duration.

Church was thus served by priests

The Church was thus served by priests of low character, men of disreputable if not infamous lives, who were at once servile and venal, and who—the worst offence of all in Bulgarian eyes—were, as a rule, of foreign race, I cannot learn that this scandalous state of things materially affected the attachment of the Bulgarians to their national creed Here, as in all Sclav countries, religion is a matter rather of ritual than of dogma ; and so long as a priest is competent to administer the sacraments and perform the required services, the personal respect or disrespect in which he may be held in his individual capacity hardly counts for anything in regard to his spiritual authority. The popular objection to the Phanariote clergy was not so much that they were wine-bibbers, loose livers, and a disgrace to their cloth, as that they were foreigners, the nominees and representatives of an alien and detested rule. The intensity of this dislike to a foreign priesthood was accelerated by the revival of the sentiment of nationality, which in Bulgaria, as elsewhere in Turkey, coincided with the decline of the Ottoman power. The earlier portion of the present century witnessed the birth of a national Bulgarian party; and the first efforts of this party were directed to removing the patronage of the Bulgarian Church from the hands of the Patriarch of Constantinople, who, up to that , time, had been a mere creature of the Porte.

 

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