2 September, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 05/14/2013
RUSSIA - CHINA
Patriarch Kirill calls for recognition of Orthodox Church in China, but is silent on religious freedom
by Nina Achmatova
In Russia, commentators and analysts ponder the meaning of the Orthodox leader’s mission to the People's Republic. For some it is one step in the Kremlin's foreign policy, which aims to strengthen a renewed geopolitical alliance with China. For others, the goal is only pastoral: the Orthodox Church needs restructuring.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - "Is it acceptable from a moral point of view,  to ask for the official recognition of Orthodox Christianity in China and keep quiet about the thousands of victims of religious persecution in this country?". This is one of the most frequently asked questions, these days, on Internet sites and blogs of religious information in Russia, that are following the "historic" visit of the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, to the People's Republic of China, which will end on May 15 . The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has already met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and with the leaders of local Christian communities and of the Chinese Department of Religious Affairs. He hopes that Beijing will grant Orthodox Christianity (after Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism) the status of "recognized religion" by the government. But he has thus far remained silent about the plight of religious freedom in the country. Indeed, he has recognized as interlocutors, the very institutions that are responsible for this repressive policy, inviting them to join efforts to "strengthen the moral values ​​in the world."

No one expected something different. For many commentators, Kirill's visit has a more political-diplomatic character than pastoral. The tones were cordial and open for what Xi himself termed the "first visit by a head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a Russian religious leader." The mission of the Patriarch follows another "historic" event: the visit to Moscow in March, of the newly elected Chinese president, on his first trip abroad and clear signal of a renewed resolve to strengthen bilateral relations between the two neighbors. And to cement an alliance geopolitics, which finds its lynch pin in the common objective of limiting U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region. In this context, a more structured orthodoxy obedient to Moscow - according to some analysts - would mean for Beijing the possibility of forming a sort of " visible spiritual opposition" to Western Christianity, traditionally associated with the Vatican and the United States.

The Russian Orthodox Church, moreover, could also represent a "middleman" useful - others point out - in dialogue with the Kremlin. Beijing recognize the Moscow Patriarchate as an important actor in Russian foreign policy, with close connections to the corridors of power. The same Xi invited Kirill to "play a greater role" in cementing the relationship between the two nations.

Russian commentators are divided. For the director of radio Kommersant, Konstantin von Eggert, the Patriarch's visit to China, "undoubtedly has a political significance." "Behind it all - the columnist, told AsiaNews - is the concept of Russkiy Mir (Russian World): strengthening, that is, the presence of the Russian people and culture in the world." "This is real 'soft power' - he added- every one of the Patriarch's actions abroad seem more like political propaganda, and not of a spiritual and pastoral nature."

Even Andrei Zolotov - director of the news website Russia Profile and expert on religious matters - in Russia Church and State promote an often agreed foreign policy. He said, however, the Patriarchate remains an independent institution. "Sometimes the priorities of the state coincide with those of the Church. Sometimes - he admits - the Church influences the state, as in the case of inclusion in the political agenda of issues such as the fight against 'Christian-phobia' and the persecution of Christians ". Despite this - adds the expert, contacted by AsiaNews - Kirill's visit to China "has a much more spiritual significance than political." "The Orthodox Church has huge problems in the country - he explains - the church hierarchy needs to be completely reconstituted." For fifty years bishops, priests and parishes are lacking. According to him, the presence of Kirill in China (where he celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Beijing, and at the chapel in the Russian Embassy in Harbin, the central place of worship for the Orthodox community) will be relief and aid to Chinese faithful (about 15 thousand). According to Zolotov, the Patriarch's visit to the Church of Shanghai will be of particular significance. St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, one of the twentieth century's most revered Orthodox saints, worked here.

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
05/31/2006 RUSSIA - CHINA
Orthodox Church for Chinese built in Russia
01/07/2013 RUSSIA
Kirill: Campaigns against the Russian Orthodox Church will not silence the Church
04/26/2011 RUSSIA
Patriarch Kirill, Easter in Moscow, with messages to the Pope and Protestants
09/05/2009 RUSSIA
Patriarch Kirill to Islamic states: More attention to Christian minorities
05/10/2013 RUSSIA - CHINA
Patriarch Kirill starts China visit today
by Nina Achmatova

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.