Moscow, April 11, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has recently spoken twice on the hard condition of the Orthodox Church in the People’s Republic of China.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Moscow Patriarchate granting autonomy to the Chinese Orthodox Church, Patriarch noted as he spoke at a reception given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Tuesday evening.
‘This Church marks her anniversary by having neither a priest nor a bishop, thought there are still many thousands believers who wait for comeback of pastoral care,’ the primate said.
Patriarch Alexy already touched the theme of Chinese Orthodoxy as he spoke at a pre-Easter press conference. Then he said that there was an Orthodox Church in China to be later virtually ‘destroyed by the Cultural Revolution.’
A spokesperson for the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate told Interfax that in 2007 three Russian Orthodox priest were sent to minister in China and Easter liturgies were offered in Russian diplomatic missions. Over 300 walked in an Easter procession in the Russian Embassy in Beijing and 120 more attended the Easter liturgy in the Russian Consulate General in Shanghai.
The congregations were multiethnic though there were no Chinese citizens who are forbidden by the law from attending such services.
Easter liturgies were also celebrated in Shenzhen and Guangzhou where many Ukrainian, Serbian, Romanian, French and US nationals joined Russians in worship.
However in Hong Kong some Chinese joined St. Peter and Paul’s Orthodox church ministered by Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyayev who resides there.
Last week the representative of the Moscow-Taipei Coordinating Committee for Economical and Cultural Cooperation Angela Su visited the Department for External Church Relations. One of the agenda points was spiritual needs of Russians who live Taiwan. Representatives of the DECR think that it is possible to create a Russian Orthodox parish in Taiwan.
Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China was established by Russian Emperor Peter the Great in 1712 and worked until 1954 when it was closed due to political reasons. Before that there were some 100 Orthodox churches across China. Most of them were ruined during the Cultural Revolution.
Today the Russian Embassy in Beijing owns the former Russian Ecclesiastical Mission buildings. The mission’s only surviving church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which were used as an embassy garage after the WW2, is now waiting for reconstruction of its historic outlook.
Fifty ears ago, the Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod established the autonomous Chinese Orthodox Church. In Moscow, the Chinese Basil Shuang, who died in 1960s, was consecrated Bishop of Beijing to lead the newly independent Church.
China’s last openly officiating Orthodox clergyman, Fr. Gregory Chu, died in 2000. He was a priest in the church of Protection of the Mother of God in Harbin. Fr. Alexander Du, the last Chinese priest, though he could not officiate publicly, died in Beijing in 2003.
According to different estimations there are 9,000 to 15,000 Orthodox faithful in China.