Tag Archives: China

Today China, Tomorrow…

The visit of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill to China is over. He has travelled widely, celebrating notably in Beijing and in the Cathedrals in Harbin and Shanghai, remembering the work of the Russian and Chinese clergy and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia there, notably of St John of Shanghai. Thus, the groundwork is being laid for the restoration of the national Chinese Church, dependent neither on the Catholic Vatican nor on Protestant America.

Professor Yury Kosov, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations of the North-Western Academy in Russia, commented today: ‘Not so long ago I was attending the defence of a doctoral thesis at the Faculty of International Relations in St Petersburg, entitled ‘Orthodox spiritual mission in the context of global processes of modernisation’. ‘Today we see that the Orthodox mission of the Russian Church is spreading the faith not only among Russian citizens, but worldwide. The Russian Church is active in furthering the spread of Orthodox values wherever it is possible…We must understand that in our world politics and spirituality are interconnected. If we do not defend national sovereignty…it is hard to keep spirituality in a country’.

The Russian Church also has a role to play in freeing bankrupt Cyprus and Greece and NATO-occupied Serbia. It is also active in Syria. Here it seems that the attempt to seize power by mainly foreign Islamist terrorists, financed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and backed by Western Special Services in the Jordan and Turkey, and armed even with chemical weapons to commit their atrocities, is failing. What they achieved with Western backing and arms in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt is perhaps not going to succeed in Syria. What the Islamists achieved in Iraq, with 80% of the Christians now expelled, and what they are trying to achieve in Egypt with the expulsion and massacre of the Copts, may not work here. The Patriarchate of Antioch, its flock often in exile in the Lebanon and Europe, may be reformed under the Russian Church.

Whatever criticisms may be levelled at the Russian Church inside Russia and its unworthy representatives outside Russia for their compromises in the past, it has to be recognised that with its canonical territory of 26.2 million square kilometres, between one fifth and one sixth of the world’s land area, and with that population, 1.755 billion, exactly one quarter of the world’s population, the Russian Church as a global power must now be recognised. In the last forty years we in the Russian Orthodox Church have come a long way, even from only a few years ago, when we were still a persecuted minority, mocked, buffeted and spat upon by all and sundry, both locally and globally.

Patriarch Kyrill in China

Twenty five years ago the largest country in the world, the Soviet Union, began to throw off official atheism, allowing the Russian Orthodox Church to celebrate publicly the 1,000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus. Is it possible that today, a generation later, the most populous country in the world, China, will also throw off official atheism, at last giving freedom to the Chinese Orthodox Church to operate there?

Today, 10 May 2013, Patriarch Kyrill has arrived in China and been in talks with the Chinese President. During his visit he will celebrate the liturgy in Orthodox churches and meet senior Chinese officials. The Patriarch’s press service told the RIA-Novosti news agency, ‘Our First Hierarch will meet government leaders in China, leaders of religious groups, and also Chinese officials responsible for religious affairs”. During his five-day visit, the Patriarch will serve at the Cathedral of the Protecting Veil in Harbin and meet Orthodox from China at the Russian Embassy in Beijing’.

The Russian Mission in China stretches back to the seventeenth century; by 1949 over 100 Orthodox Churches existed in China. However, after Communist China was established, the USSR signed agreements with the new government that it would transfer jurisdiction over those churches to the Communists and effectively they were closed. The Chinese Orthodox Church became autonomous in 1956, ending the Russian Mission. Today, although there are thirteen active parishes in the country, their activities are strictly limited. However, China, part of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, may now at last be opening itself to take part in the worldwide mission of Russian Orthodoxy.