The last twenty years would most likely be imprinted in the minds of the Russian people as the time of reforms which have brought drastic changes to the political layout of the country, its social structure and economy, and have without doubt altered its religious dimensions as well. The Russian Orthodox Church recognizes its missionary services as one of the high-priority tasks in the context of its new historical existence. During the last few years many bishops and priests,—as well as the multitudinous congregation of the Russian Orthodox Church,—started paying a great deal of attention to China. It is undoubtedly a great country with a colossal importance both for Russia as its neighbor and for the whole world due to its involvement in all the fundamental processes of the contemporary global development. Such interest within the Church is a sign of rebirth of its ecclesiastic consciousness—as such not solely confining itself to the reconstruction of its own fundamentals, but reaching out,—according to the commandment of the Savior,—to “teach all nations” (Mat. 28, 19), one of which is the great Chinese nation.
The same two decades saw a remarkable revival of religious life in China. It may come as an unexpected surprise to the adherents of the Marxist theory who pronounced religion a moribund phantom of an immature society,—but the fact still remains that presently, after 60 years of the official atheistic policy, up to 95% of the Chinese population are regularly participating in various religious rites. Up till the end of the 1970’s the Chinese authorities entertained the belief that eventually any form of religious life in the country would wither away -at the same time attempting to artificially accelerate that process. Despite such anticipations during the period of the reforms and opening up policies, religious traditions enjoyed exceptionally exuberant growth. According to the official point of view such traditions play an important role in the domestic politics, and at the same time they proved to be an essential asset for international relations between China and the outside world.
After decades of suppression and ferocious control over any form of public religious life, today we see the revival of multiple religious organizations as well as restoration of monasteries, temples and mosques. For the major part the process of religious revival in China has originated and is currently progressing thanks to the social reforms that go hand in hand with the country’s boisterous economic growth. But even today the Chinese authorities are striving to retain political control over the religious life within the society, preserving a number of statutory restrictions. Nevertheless in many parts of the country it is easy to witness vigorous religious activities of the public which promote the Buddhist, Islamic and Daoist religious traditions. It is virtually everywhere that you can see clergy of various denominations administering religious rites and ceremonies. Restored sanctuaries, religious communes promoting intensive spiritual life, temples full of worshippers and religious educational institutions welcoming students,—all that is now a common sight. An inalienable part of the religious make-up of China are Christians totaling, – according to various estimates, from 35 to 70 million people (a more accurate number is hard to arrive at, since most Christians in China belong to unofficial religious organizations).
Upon the inception of the People’s Republic of China the key legal principle governing the existence of its domestic religious institutions was declared their independence from foreign religious organizations. Chinese religious organizations cannot be controlled from abroad,—therefore the very being and functioning of the Russian Orthodox Church in the territory of the PRC seem infeasible (for the sake of comparison it is worthy to know that even the Catholic Church which officially operates in the PRC is not administratively subordinate to the Vatican). At the same time though, the opportunities are open for the existence of the Chinese Orthodox Church. Hence, due to above-mentioned forced circumstances and opportunities available, in 1957 the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church was declared established. All Orthodox parishes and churches in the territory of the PRC fell under its jurisdiction. Since then and up till now there have never been,—and for that matter could never exist,—any Orthodox parishes rather than those belonging to the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church (except for the territories of Hong Kong and Macao). The issue of the legal affiliation for the parishes located on exterritorial grounds (such as diplomatic missions) should be resolved according to the principles of the canon law. By the time the Church obtained the autonomous status some of the parishes had been mostly Russian in their national makeup and language of the services (that was especially true in the rural areas of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia); in some of the newly opened churches (in Beijing and Shanghai) the services were conducted in Chinese by the Chinese clergy.
Upon becoming autonomous,—and involuntarily so, due to the political circumstances and being too fragile and institutionally immature to handle independence, – the Chinese Orthodox Church had to resolve the problem of establishing its self-sustained life (before anything else for its Chinese parish),—all that without any outside help. According to the law of the PRC which protects the religious rights of foreign citizens residing in the country, foreigners are allowed to attend church services conducted in Chinese communities. And it is in this very legal margin that the Russians,—temporarily or permanently residing in China,—can create the conditions for their religious life: they may become members of the parishes belonging to the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church, – where such churches operate legally. Nevertheless the church life of the Orthodox communities in the territory of the PRC can hardly be considered acceptable even up till this day. The reason for that lies in the complex historical circumstances befalling the Orthodox Church in China and the stagnant insurmountable hindrances stemming from such.
The very historical period when the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church came into existence had been far from opportune for its independent development. Still in need of outside help and under the constant opposition from the PRC authorities, the Church never got around to holding its Local Council: thus the election of the Bishop of Beijing Basil (Shuan) as the head of the Church was never finalized, and the canonical status of the Church has remained more of a blueprint rather than the objective reality.
The legal status of the Church was also vulnerable: back then it did not create a “Patriotic Orthodox Association” in line with the demands of the authorities to be an institution recognized by the State and serving as a conduit between the Church and the State (similar associations, a kind of duplicating organizational entities, have been created in the PRC by the Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and Daoists). As the result the Orthodox Church didn’t get to be recognized by the authorities in the territory of the PRC on the national level, it was not legally incorporated into a unified entity, – thus in essence amounting to a number of atomized parishes in various parts of the country. In addition, the issues of the Church property had been resolved with significant mistakes as the Church on its own accord relinquished its proprietary rights. On March 30, 1956 Archbishop of Beijing Victor (Svyatinin) handed over all of its fixed assets to the PRC Authorities for nationalization with a hope that such a move would suggest a benevolent attitude towards the Chinese Orthodox Church. Alas, it was not meant to be. For the sake of comparison—neither the Catholic, nor the Protestant Churches chose to hand over their property for nationalization. Everything they owned was taken away by force—an act properly placed on record, which after the “Cultural Revolution” served as a warrant for partial restitution of the immovable property to the Catholic and Protestant Churches in China.
The disunity of the Orthodox parishes and strong disagreements between the Bishop of Beijing Basil (Yao Shuan) and the Bishop of Shanghai Simeon (Du) on the issue of governing the church life were likewise hindering normal growth of the Church. The most deplorable development was failing to adequately establish the national priesthood,—a task of utmost importance: during the 1950’s the Chinese Orthodox Church acquired only two Chinese bishops and not more than 20 Chinese clergymen. By comparison, the Catholic Church in China, having realized the obvious need to create the national clergy, by the beginning of the 1960’s boasted several dozens of Chinese bishops, hundreds of priests and nuns across the country: such advancement formed the basis for preserving the Catholic Church in China during the “Cultural Revolution” despite severe persecutions. Mass exodus of the Russian parishioners in the 1950’s deserted the churches, and most of them had to close down just because there was nobody to hold services for. Figuratively speaking, Orthodoxy started abandoning China in the footsteps of the Russians fleeing the country: this fact bespeaks the erroneous strategy of trying to establish the Russian Church as a church of national minority in the territory of China where the native and resident population has always been Chinese.
All ties with the Russian Orthodox Church were considerably weakened. In the 1950’s, – against the backdrop of the happy Soviet-Chinese political alliance and dozens of thousands of Russian immigrants staying in the PRC,—the attitude of the Chinese authorities towards the Orthodox Church still allowed for attempting to construct a foundation for its independent existence. But with the cooling down of the relationship between the Soviet Union and China and large-scale departures of the Russians to the USSR and the West, the Chinese authorities grew hostile towards the Chinese Orthodox Church, and that reality fell well into their concept of atheistic religious policies. In the 1960’s the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church,—as well as all religious organizations of the PRC,—was subjected to major persecutions, which virtually destroyed it institutionally. Many churches were demolished, others were turned into warehouses or shut down, church services were banned everywhere and the church property was confiscated, pillaged or destroyed. Up till now we can see dozens of destroyed Orthodox churches scattered across the country, particularly in its North-Eastern provinces. Numerous Orthodox cemeteries remain desolate and neglected.
During the grievous years of the “Cultural Revolution” the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church was glorified through the new martyrs and the confessions of its shepherds, some of whose names yet remain unknown. Several Chinese Orthodox priests, as well as many laymen were tortured to death or sent to labor camps for “re-education”. Some evidence of their martyrdom is known but still awaits its time to be disclosed. The doleful result of those political processes in China was the destruction of that yet unfledged environment which strove to preserve and communicate the spiritual experiences of the devotional worshipping life.
As the historical period of the reforms and open door policy commenced, the earlier banned religious organizations started resuming their activities all over the country. Among other things the policies of the authorities intended to correct the errors of the “Cultural Revolution” and the overall national policy also pertained to the Orthodox parishes in the PRC. For example, in the 1960’s 18 Orthodox churches had been destroyed in the area of the Argun River, and as a “rectifying measure” one church was built in 1990. Overall the authorities perceive the Orthodox Church in China as the church of the Russian national minority, thus extending the policy of preserving cultural diversity of national minorities to the PRC citizens of Russian ethnicity (mostly residing in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia). The priests and laymen who had survived the “Cultural Revolution” remained faithful to Christ and the Church, and at the beginning of 1980’s they acquired the permission to resume the activities of Orthodox communities in several Chinese cities. In most cases the authorities shouldered the costs of restoring the earlier destroyed churches (for example, the Chinese government covered the expenses for restoring churches of St. Nicholas in Urumchi in 1986, of St. Innocenty of Irkutsk in Labdarin in 1990, of St. Nicholas in Kulja in 2000, and of St. John the Baptist in the Huangshan district near Harbin in 1995).
In 1984 the authorities gave official permission to resume worship services in Harbin’s Pokrovsky (Holy Protecting Veil of the Mother of God) Church and partially returned the church property to the Orthodox community of Harbin. Priest Gregory Zhu (+ Sept. 21, 2000) who had earlier served in Harbin and Dalian became the Rector of the Church. He remained the sole priest in the territory of the PRC who administered the divine services from 1986 till 2000. After the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church visited the PRC in 1993 Father Gregory visited Khabarovsk and Moscow, where he received the Chrism and the Antimension for conducting holy services in the Pokrovsky Church in Harbin. While Father Gregory was alive, worship services in the Church were held in the Slavonic language comemorating the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. With the departure of Father Gregory, in all of China (except for the territory of Hong Kong) there remained not a single church where citizens of the PRC,—both Russian and Chinese,—could partake in holy services. From 2010 the authorities occasionally allow to conduct divine services in the Pokrov Church in Harbin for foreign Christians residing in the city.
In 1986 the Russian community of Xinjiang obtained permission to build the St. Nicholas Church in Urumqi. The construction was finished in 1990, though the divine services have not been restored due to the lack of a priest. Up till this day the church remains not consecrated. On holidays and Sundays the Orthodox believers of Xinjiang gather in the church for self-initiated prayer services. In 1990 the Orthodox church of St. Innocenty of Irkutsk was built in Labdarin (E’erguna) in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The St. Nicholas Church was built in 2000 in Kulja (Yining) of the Xinjiang-Uigur Autonomous Region by the efforts of Galina Pavlovna Merkulova (+ 2008). In 2008 the authorities announced allocation of funds for the construction of an Orthodox church in Chuguchak (Tacheng).
In Beijing the History of the Orthodox Church dates back to the end of the 17th century and the traces of those early days have survived in the Chinese capital up till this day. A historical Orthodox cemetery is located near the Andingmen Street in Beijing but it has been turned into the Qingnianhu city park. Until the end of the 1980’s in the territory of the park stood the St. Seraphim Church destroyed in 1986,—now in its stead there is a golf course under which repose the holy relics of the martyrs of Alapaevsk and the Chinese martyrs of the Yihetuan rebellion. The former Holy Presentation Embassy Church in the Nantang District (the South Metochion of the Mission) was destroyed in the 1980’s. The Beijing Museum of Bells exhibits two Russian bells—one was taken down from the belfry of the Mission and the other—from the St. Seraphim Church. The tombstone of the Head of the First Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Beijing Archimandrite Hilarion (Lezhaisky) is kept in one of the Beijing museums. Starting from the end of the 19th century the territory of the Russian Spiritual Mission in Beijing was located in the Beiguan District; currently its historical territory houses the Russian Embassy. For centuries Beiguan was the spiritual center of the Orthodox Church in China. In 1956, after the territory of the Mission was handed over to the USSR Embassy, the main church of Beiguan, which had been consecrated in memory of the Chinese martyrs of the Yihetuan rebellion, as well as the belfry of the Mission,—were destroyed. The Dormition Church was used as a garage, and the Bishop’s Temple consecrated in memory of one of the heavenly patrons of China St. Innocenty of Irkutsk, was used as the hall for the Embassy’s chamber receptions. Divine services in the territory of Beiguan ceased for more than 40 years.
In the second half of 1990’s the territory of the Russian Embassy in the PRC witnessed the revival of regular Orthodox services. They were conducted in the church of St. Innocenty of Irkutsk, still preserved in the territory of the Embassy. Before the cancellation of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission that church used to be the Bishop’s Temple with daily services in Chinese. It was built in the Chinese style and represents a symbol of Orthodoxy in the Chinese world. Currently the church is closed again and no services are conducted there by the decision of the Russian Embassy administration. The currently functioning Dormition Church, which has the status of a museum, was restored in the territory of the Embassy in 2009. The chances of visiting it even for Russian citizens are very limited.
Orthodox Christians in Beijing have made numerous appeals to the authorities with requests to provide them with a location for prayers as restitution for the destroyed and confiscated churches, but such appeals still go unsatisfied. The reason for that is twofold: on the one hand it is the small number, poor organization and disunity of the Chinese Orthodox believers in Beijing, and on the other—the special status of the capital city.
In Shanghai, just like in Beijing, the authorities up till this day tarry with handing over the Orthodox church for church services,—first of all because in Shanghai there is no Orthodox Christian community with a legal status. The two surviving Orthodox churches in the city: the Cathedral of the Icon of the Mother of God “Surety of Sinners” and the St. Nicholas Church built in memory of the assassination of Emperor Nicolas II, have been declared by the Shanghai authorities as architectural landmarks and were placed under the protection of the State. The main reason for a rather disorderly church life in Shanghai is the disunity of the Orthodox Christians. The community does not possess a legal status and has no permanent premises. Two Shanghai clergy, Priest Mikhail Wang and Deacon Evangel Lu sometimes take part in the services conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church community for Russian and foreign citizens. Sometimes PRC citizens take part in divine services together with the Russian parishioners. Some of them had been baptized into Orthodoxy in their childhood before the “Cultural Revolution” and for many years had no chance to confess their faith. In May 2010 Shanghai authorities gave permission to temporarily use the St. Nicholas Church for services of the Orthodox community of foreigners residing in Shanghai.
In 2003 the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church were resumed in Hong Kong: the Orthodox Brotherhood of Saints Apostles Peter and Paul was founded in Hong Kong with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy. The Brotherhood concentrates its activities on the pastoral care of the Russians residing in Hong Kong, as well as on the support of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. The Brotherhood actively pursues the task of translating Orthodox literature into Chinese. For the past five years there have been printed 15 publications of doctrinal, liturgical and hagiographic literature in Chinese and English. In Autumn of 2008 by the order of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church the parish of Saints Apostles Peter and Paul resumed its activities. Previously the parish had existed in Hong Kong from 1933 till 1970. Church services in the reinstated parish are conducted in the home church in the Church-Slavonic, English and Chinese languages. Currently this parish is the only one in China with the legitimate canonical and legal status and the complete parish structure. The parish maintains a Sunday school, library and the Russian Language Center. Besides church services the parish publishes and distributes Orthodox literature in Hong Kong and the PRC, Taiwan, Singapore and among oversea Orthodox Chinese.
It should also be mentioned that the Orthodox parishes in China did not possess the sufficient number of internal resources for organizing their activities in a satisfactory manner: the experiences of the parish life and divine services were lost and gone; in many instances the holy relics (for example the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God of Tabyn which had been previously on display in the church in Kulja (Yining) in Xinjiang), worship items and liturgical books have remained up till this day in the hands of the authorities, and not the Orthodox communities. Problems common for all Orthodox parishes in China are the absence of clergy and shortage of doctrinal and liturgical literature in the Chinese language. Not being able to solely rely on their own abilities, they have addressed and still keep appealing for help beyond the borders of China: for example, Father Gregory Zhu used to receive support in reply to his letters from Japan and Russia. The parishioners of Xinjiang and Harbin often ask for help from the Church Authorities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (mostly in Australia). The archives of the External Church Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church among other things store appeals dating back to 1980’s from the parishioners of Beijing, Shanghai, Kulja, Tianjin and Nanjing with descriptions of the disastrous state of things befalling the Orthodox believers and requests to help organize their church and parish life. The core problem of the open and functioning Orthodox parishes within the territory of the PRC remains the lack of Orthodox clergy, which is especially burdensome in the aftermath of the decades-long destruction of the church environment.
On February 7, 1997 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church,—in the light of the 40th anniversary of granting the Chinese Orthodox Church with autonomy, – decreed to bestow a greater measure of care on the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. It was also decided that until the Local Council of the Autonomous Chinese Church elects its Primate, the canonical care of the parishes in the territory of the PRC would be taken by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. With later decrees of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church the care for the Xinjiang parish was bestowed on the Metropolitanate of Kazakhstan, and care of the parishes within Inner Mongolia—on the Russian Orthodox Church Diocese of Chita and the Zabaikalsky Region. In order to normalize the standing of the parishes belonging to the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church it is of essential importance to establish contacts between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church, improve contacts with the State Administration for Religious Affairs with the State Council of the PRC, and strengthen relationships with the Chinese scientists who research Orthodoxy.
In order to make an accurate decision about the ways of rendering assistance to the Orthodox Church in China, it is important to realize the essence of the complex system of social, economic and political processes existing in China today. Nowadays China finds itself at a very special level of development: against the background of the disintegrated ideology of atheism and a complicated transition period in the economic and social development, the country has plunged into a spiritual vacuum. For the last thirty years the number of Christians in China has increased manifold (Catholics—4 times since 1949, Protestants—20 times in the same period—and that by the most conservative assessments). During those years—which have received a name of “the golden years of Christianity in China”, there have appeared tens of thousands of Catholic and Protestant communities across the country. Such state of things has given rise to a new expression: “Christian fever”, denoting an impetuous growth in the number of Christians.
The religious renaissance in China during the period of the reforms and open door policy concerned all religions. It is a complex phenomenon, which was first of all determined by the collapse of atheistic ideology. A certain role played the fact that the authorities started slacking on the punitive measures, as well as an increased social mobility of the population, and the ever growing opportunities of contacts with the outside world. There also exist a number of specific internal causes that contribute to the growth of the population’s religious awareness. Primarily that is the devotion of the Chinese Christians to the values they confess: even in the face of the persecutions and repressions they in many instances presented an example of true martyrdom, which to a large extent paved the way for the religious revival in the country.
The renewal of the religious life in China which we are witnessing now is a serious topic for discussion. I would like to point out several facets which could help outline the whole complexity of this process: those are the religious, social and political aspects. Each of these aspects has at least two dimensions: one is rooted in the traditions of the Chinese society and culture, the other is stemming from the traditions of Christianity itself. Interaction of these aspects in both of their dimensions within the context of the universal globalization in general and the Chinese modernization in particular is the very process that is shaping the radically transforming structure that is the Chinese world today.
It is necessary to point out that the process of the religious renaissance in China is closely related not only to the intrinsic processes occurring inside the Chinese society, but also to the growing interaction among the religious communities of China with their foreign co-believers: thus, besides its internal dimension, the religious revival also has an external one. The forces which partake in this process will soon enough become the forces that shape the Chinese world as a whole, as well as the laws governing its existence and development. Western Christianity belongs to the range of such forces here and now; the question of the role and place destined to Orthodoxy in this process remains open and uncertain.
The only Christian confession the number of whose adherents has not only failed to rise but considerably decreased is Orthodoxy. Nevertheless the potential for growth still exists,—and it is important to correctly arrange the work which is, in essence, a missionary one.
The process of restoring the religious life in China touches upon many other entities besides the Christian communities (including the Orthodox ones which are in a dire need of support in order to normalize their situation). An important party to the dialog with the Orthodox world today is the Chinese scientific community, which with a constantly growing interest turns its attention to studying Christianity (earlier—mostly Western, and during the last few years – Orthodoxy as well). In search for the answers to the new fundamental questions and challenges that are posed before the Chinese society, the Chinese intellectual elite is ready not only to examine the values of the Christian world, but is oftentimes open to its profound acceptance too. Today the Russian Orthodox Church is called upon to give full and comprehensive answers to those people in China who enquire about what Orthodoxy is, its ways in the world and what its values and aims are.
To a considerable extent the State Authorities of the PRC and the governing Communist Party are those powers which influence the development of the religious revival in the society. Having vowed to adhere to liberalization in economy and modernization in the social sphere, the Chinese authorities are confronted with a complex task of maintaining loyalty of the rapidly growing religious communities, which in their turn are striving for greater independence from the traditional practices of the authorities to control and monitor their religious life. One of the core tasks for the authorities in the sphere of religious policy today is to keep the balance between the loyalty of religious organizations to the ruling authorities and their natural tendency for autonomy and authentic independence. In the light of China opening more and more towards the outside world, religious problems will for sure be gaining the ever growing importance in China’s foreign policy. All the more important will be the need to avoid a disproportionate politicization of religious issues (for example, the situation of the Orthodox Church in China),—in order not to give any reason to suspect interference with the internal affairs. At the same time the key task of the Russian Orthodox Church in China, as it is purporting to make the revival of Orthodoxy in China to actually happen, is to carry on with the dialog between the Church and the official authorities in order to normalize the life of Orthodox communities in China, as well as to restore the Chinese clergy, church hierarchy, and the system of spiritual education.
The phenomenon of migration, including that of the Chinese population, which is constantly gaining momentum, gives us a certain expanded framework for examining the issue of Orthodoxy in China. Today such a discussion can hardly be effective without understanding the interrelation between China as the mother country and the countries of the Chinese Diaspora. Today both represent an interrelated Chinese world not restricted to actual state territories. When examining the issue of preaching Orthodoxy in China it is essential to broaden the geographic frontiers in order to see the subject in its entirety. This can be understood as the problem of Orthodox homiletics in the Chinese world (both in China as the parent state and beyond,—that is in the Sino-centered countries including those of the Chinese Diaspora). The Chinese world is a present-day reality,—not necessarily geographically withdrawn from the inhabitants of the European part of Russia, to say nothing of its Eastern regions.
Until recently the Russian Orthodox Church has remained the only Local Church preaching Orthodoxy in China for the last few centuries. However today it is necessary to speak of the recently created Ecumenical Patriarchate in the territories in Hong Kong and Taiwan. According to the law of succession it is the Russian Orthodox Church that holds the responsibility for the destiny of Orthodoxy in China. At the same time it is important to note the attempts undertaken by the Constantinople Patriarchate to dispute this right of succession and the principles of canonical existence of the Church in China as laid down by the Russian Orthodox Church. An important topic is inter-Orthodox cooperation on the issue of the Mission in China.
In the process of normalizing the standing of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church the most important objectives are to create the system of religious education and formation of clergy, as well as to resolve the issue of the Ecumenical Orthodoxy recognizing the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. Such processes are not feasible without substantial support. The Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church,—which has for almost half a century been devoid of a bishop and pastoral care,—will not be able to rebuild a fully-fledged church life for its congregation without fraternal help.
The following ways of normalizing the situation of the Orthodox Church in China seem to be most feasible:
to recognize that resolving the problems of the Mission in the Chinese world is a task which concerns the Church as a whole;
to develop and coordinate the programs for the Church institutions in order to normalize the standing of the Orthodox Church in China;
to develop the mean of providing regular financial support to the Missionary projects dedicated to preaching Orthodoxy in the Chinese world.
The current standing of the Orthodox Church in China may be viewed as a dire one. If the existing tendencies remain the same then within the next ten to fifteen years the Orthodox Church in China may vanish from the places of its traditional existence without a trace. In order to change those negative tendencies it is essential to accept a long-term program dedicated to a comprehensive support of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. Owing to the specific nature of China’s current development as well as because of a particular historic standing of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to China, today we have all opportunities to stop passively looking on as Orthodoxy is vanishing from China, and to become the key participants in the process of its revival.
Archpriest Dionisy Pozdnyaev
November 13, 2010