Fr. Angelos Stanway – Research Editor @COS – 22/01/2019
The story of ROCOR’s mission in India is one frustration, missed opportunities, and unfortunate errors, as well as great piety, ascetic struggle, and witness to the Gospel precepts, with the characters that come and go ranging from great examples of faith and holiness to the shady and downright bizarre. It is nonetheless a story worth telling, a story of how ROCOR, that small band of faithful émigrés and their fellow travelers that discovered the Orthodox faith in their midst, sought to bring Orthodoxy to a nation of almost one billion people.
Using sources taken predominately from the Russian perspective, we are able to construct a detailed outline of the missionary work, including support from Church authorities, the intentions of the missionaries, and, in particular, the reason why the missionaries were sent in the first place. In all cases, it is because ROCOR was contacted by church authorities or persons in India who either wished to unite with the Orthodox Church or be received as individuals. With only limited sources from the Indian perspective, it is not yet possible to ascertain their reasons for seeking union with the Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Church in particular, with the exception of the individuals who were actually received by the Church.
While it might be argued that they were seeking ‘recognition’ from the Orthodox Church, it can be seen from the sources that the Indian church was far too self-assured of its own apostolicity and orthodoxy to be seeking mere recognition in the way that the Anglican Church can be accused of this. The only possible reason that they might be seeking external recognition or validation could be as additional support in the legal dispute between the two factions of the Indian church. To answer this question, it is necessary to do further research, which would need many more sources from India.