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    » 02/12/2009, 00.00

    RUSSIA – CHINA

    Patriarch Kirill meets Ye Xiaowen, China’s Religious Affairs minister



    For years the Moscow Patriarchate has been trying to breathe new life into China’s Orthodox Church, relying on the influence of politicians like Putin and Sino-Russian economic relations.

    Moscow (AsiaNews/orthodox.cn) – The newly elected Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill met a delegation of the People’s Republic of China led by Ye Xiaowen, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, who is well-known for his anti-Vatican attacks.

    The meeting took place on 2 February but was reported only yesterday on the Orthodoxy in China website. Kirill thanked Ye for the visit which took place “on the day of my enthronement”, he said. As a matter of fact, it occurred a day earlier.

    The patriarch noted that the two had already met in 2006 during the World Summit of Religious Leaders held in Moscow at the time of a G8 summit.

    It was a very good meeting and satisfactory conversation”, said Kirill. “Since that time our relationship has received many positive developments,” he added.

    Improving relations between Russian and Chinese Orthodox (about 15,000 spread across China’s vast territory) is even included in the Sino-Russian Treaty of good neighbourliness for 2009 – 2012.

    When he was in charge of the Moscow Patriarchate’s External Relations Department, Kirill had tried for the years to get the Chinese to allow the Russian Orthodox Church to train Chinese Orthodox seminarians train so as to re-establish a Chinese Orthodox clergy.

    Several times the new patriarch had offered to send Russian clergymen to China for the care of Orthodox worshippers, to little success because religious freedom is not fully guaranteed in China since the Orthodox Church is not a recognised religious organisation in the country.

    In recent years the late Patriarch Aleksij tried to get China to open up through Vladimir Putin’s influence and China’s need for Russian oil.

    During his meeting with Ye, Kirill mentioned the various problems Orthodox communities face in mainland China. They include rebuilding the Dormition church on the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Beijing and the lack of Orthodox clergy in Harbin, Urumqi, Ghulja (Yining) and Labdarin (E'erguna).

    The Russian Orthodox Church arrived in China some 300 years ago. Its first communities were made up of Russian immigrants concentrated in the north of the country. Currently most believers are still of Russian origin, living in four main locations: Harbin (Heilongjiang), where there is a parish dedicated to the protective mantle of the Mother of God, in Labdarin (Outer Mongolia), and in Kulj and Urumqi (Xinjiang).

    China’s Cultural Revolution had devastating effects on Orthodox bishops and priests. Still today there are no local priests and worshippers meet on and off on Sundays to pray.

    There are however 13 Chinese Orthodox seminarians studying at the Sretenskaya Theological Academy in Moscow and the Academy of St Petersburg.

    Russian Orthodox priests come to China on Christmas and Easter to celebrate various services but inside Russia’s embassy and consulates.

    China’s Orthodox Church is a separate jurisdiction, but the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople are trying to draw it into their fold.

    Hong Kong-based Metropolitan Nektarios’ jurisdiction comes under that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. His seat publishes material for Chinese worshippers and the metropolitan has often stressed the need for greater religious freedom in China.

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    See also

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    28/12/2015 RUSSIA
    Moscow Patriarchate, "fires" Archpriest Chaplin: I disagreed with Patriarch Kirill
    The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church has been removed from the role of head of the Synodal Department for Relations with Society: "I tried to say that we should be more critical of immoral actions undertaken by the authorities".

    13/02/2016 18:09:00 RUSSIA – VATICAN
    The historic and somewhat surreal meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill

    The leaders of two hieratic religious traditions hugged in a bare "Soviet" atmosphere, sterilised from the presence of people, but with dignitaries, politicians and journalists. The Joint Declaration contains important points, and sets the stage for missionary work for the coming centuries. Putin overshadows the Syrian issue. Kirill wins over Uniatism and Ukraine. However, the real world will be the test of the agreement.



    26/01/2009 RUSSIA
    Vote for new Moscow Patriarch set for tomorrow; three candidates running, Kirill favoured
    Kliment of Kaluga and Filaret of Minsk are also in the race. Tomorrow’s election will include representatives of men and women religious as well as lay people from around the world.

    19/01/2009 RUSSIA
    From Moscow a patriarch for the third millennium
    The death of Aleksij II provides a great opportunity for the spiritual renaissance of Russia’s Orthodox communities, opening the door to ecumenism and a common mission among Christians. But the weight of the political system and the traditional alignment between state and Church could lead to some surprises.



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