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Orthodox Chinese in churches of Irkutsk

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  • Nelson Mitrophan Chin
    http://orthodox.cn/news/20060831irkutsk_en.htm Originally published in Russian by Education and Orthodoxy August, 31, 2006 Orthodox Chinese in churches of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2006
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      http://orthodox.cn/news/20060831irkutsk_en.htm

      Originally published in Russian by Education and Orthodoxy
      August, 31, 2006

      Orthodox Chinese in churches of Irkutsk
      English Translation by Igor Radev

      Coming thousands of kilometers from China to Siberia, on an invitation
      by the Brotherhood of St Innokenty a group of pilgrims from Mainland
      China and Hong Kong came to Irkutsk on June 28,in order to venerate
      the holy relics of St Innokenty, the first bishop of Irkutsk and the
      heavenly patron of the Celestial Kingdom. The group was lead by
      Protopresbyter Dionisy Pozdnyaev, who is the caretaker of the Sts
      Peter and Paul parish in Hong Kong.

      Among the Chinese pilgrims were many learned Sinologists, including
      professors from Russian and Chinese universities, as well as students
      studying at the Moscow Spiritual Academy. During the week spent in
      Irkutsk, the guests visited festive church services, went on
      excursions to the churches of Irkutsk Diocese, the museums in the city
      and the prefecture, and even cruised on Lake Baikal. They also
      listened to lectures by Fr Dionisy Pozdnyaev, Fr Daniel Sisoev
      (Moscow) and Jean-Paul Vist (Beijing) on the contemporary religious
      situation in China, giving answers to some interesting questions. On
      that occasion a presentation was made of the books in Chinese
      published by the Brotherhood of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul:
      Russian-Chinese Prayer Book, a book by Archimandrite John
      (Krestyankin)- "Tractate on Establishing a Confession", Church
      Calendar for 2006 as well as other publications.

      We are know bringing to your attention the interview done by Professor
      Dionisy Gavchuk of St Macarius Orthodox Theological Institute from
      Novosibirsk, with Fr. Dionisy Pozdnyaev, representative of the
      External Church Relations Department, and Elena Wen, the translator
      into Chinese of the book by Archimandrite John (Krestyankin)-
      "Tractate on Establishing a Confession".

      Fr. Dionisy, is this a first time for Chinese Orthodox pilgrims to
      visit Russia? What is the goal of your visit?

      Actually, this is a second visit, while our first such experience was
      the trip to Blagoveshchensk Diocese during the summer of 2005. Of
      course, the main goal here is to pray before the relics of St
      Innokenty and in the churches of Irkutsk. For the time being, the only
      opportunity of Orthodox Chinese to have pilgrimages is traveling
      outside of China. Also, I think it is important to inform those in
      Irkutsk about the problems of the Orthodox Church in China and the
      cooperative ways of resolving these problems.

      How are the Orthodox Chinese received in Russia? What is the benefit
      for the Chinese pilgrims from these trips?

      Fr. Dionisy: I must say that we were received with great warmth and
      undivided lively interest. And for the Chinese Orthodox, besides the
      opportunities to participate in Divine Services, Holy Communion, and
      confessions, this trip offered them the chance to communicate with
      Orthodox Christians in Russia, and that represents another step toward
      realizing their own unity which is necessary for establishing a normal
      Church life.

      Elena Wen: There is no doubt about it. During such interesting and
      important trips we are present at holy sites. During Divine Services
      we are communicating with God, and walking out of church we are
      communicating with our good brothers and sisters. Is there anything
      more beautiful and useful than this?

      Elena, in the previous century our compatriots used to say about the
      baptized Chinese – "One Christian more, one Chinese less". Is there in
      these days a changed opinion concerning the Orthodox Chinese? Please,
      tell our readers how you came to Orthodoxy?

      To tell the truth, not many Chinese people can tell the difference
      between Orthodoxy and other Christian denominations. For the absolute
      majority, they are quite the same. By the way in which people
      communicate, know and receive me with understanding, I am convinced
      that they receive me and other believers in that same way,
      irregardless of their creed.

      I came to the Orthodox Faith in 1995, when I was studying at a Russian
      University. I was surrounded by many good people. I must admit, at
      that time I did not know what Orthodoxy was and how it differed from
      other Christian denominations, but I trusted my goodhearted friends
      who prepared me for Holy Baptism.

      Fr. Dionisy, among the participants in your group there are Chinese
      students studying at the Moscow Spiritual Academy. What tasks lay
      before them after finishing their education? They will go to China or
      will they stay here in Russia?

      If the PRC Government allows them to serve in China, they will go to
      serve in Chinese parishes. The decision about ordination is in the
      jurisdiction of the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. My
      opinion is that after finishing Seminary, the students ready for
      ordination should be received into the priesthood. Also, it seems
      important that they could be sent to the Russian Far East and Siberian
      parishes where they could engage in missionary activities among the
      Chinese living in Russia.

      Elena, you mentioned that you have studied in Russia. Please share
      with us your impressions about our country.

      It is hard to express my impressions in words. I can just say that
      during the years when I studied in Russia, I have fallen in love with
      this country and people.

      In Russia there is wide spread opinion about a "Yellow Peril"
      threatening our homeland. Fr. Dionisy, after having lived for more
      than two years in China, how do you perceive that problem? Is it real?

      I think we could hear many speculations on that subject. I don't even
      fully understand what this "peril" consists of (especially if we have
      in mind that among the Chinese working in Russia almost no one sees
      this country as his permanent home). If more Chinese move to our
      country (and comprises at least 20% of the total population of the
      world)- we are obliged to do our best to show them the way to Christ.
      According to Apostle Paul, in the Church there is no difference
      between Greek and Jew, or any other nationality for that matter. In
      the preaching of Orthodoxy I see it as the duty of Russia and of every
      single Orthodox Christian. Non-fulfilling our call and ignoring our
      duty is the main peril for us.

      Fr. Dionisy, how do you see in the light of the recently held Summit
      of World Religious Leaders, where also representatives of the Chinese
      government took part, the change of life for the Orthodox citizens of
      China?

      I do not expect quick changes. From political decisions a church and
      spiritual environment can not be built. Rather, we should make every
      effort in the task of spiritual growth and raising the Church
      conscience among the Orthodox of China, where political decisions
      could have only a supporting role. Speaking about the Summit, I would
      say that it was important to achieve such high-level meetings.
      Officially, China does not fully realize the role of the Orthodox
      Church in the history of Russia and its present life. I think that the
      visit of the Chinese delegation will serve towards forming a more
      complete view on the Russian Orthodox Church among the dignitaries of PRC.

      There was information on the Internet that an Orthodox church will be
      built in Harbin. Will services be held there for the Orthodox Chinese?

      For the time being, the Chinese side still speaks about the opening of
      that church as a tourist spot. So, we can hardly see in that decision
      some improvement of the state of Orthodox believers in the PRC. In
      Harbin there is already opened church, but the community is very
      small. On the other hand, in Beijing, regardless of the larger number
      of faithful, there is no Orthodox church. Anyhow, even more important
      is the resolving of the problem with the spiritual guidance of the
      Chinese believers – I am speaking here about the ordination of our
      Chinese seminarians.

      Fr. Dionisy and Elena, I am very grateful for your interview, which
      will be so interesting to our readers. Fr. Dionisy, I am
      congratulating you the well deserved reward from His Holiness, the
      Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, Alexy II,the rank of
      protopresbyter, and I wish you God's assistance in your not so easy
      work for the well being of our Mother – the Church.
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