March 17, 2011

15,000 Orthodox In China Suffer From Lack of Priests

March 16, 2011

The head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk is concerned with the position of Orthodox believers in China.

"Today China's Orthodox believers suffer from lack of priests and regular services. The Russian Orthodox Church as the Mother Church is interested in restoring the Chinese Autonomous Church. At this stage our Church is ready to extend multilateral help to Chinese believers, first of all, to help Chinese priests appear," he said in his interview to the website.

According to the hierarch, "while the number of Catholics and Protestants in modern China is growing, Orthodox believers in the country who have more than a 300-year tradition unfortunately are deprived of a possibility to lead a normal church life."

The Metropolitan says that today China has up to 15 thousand Orthodox believers, who live in Beijing, Shanghai, Heilongjiang Province and the autonomous districts Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. The Chinese Orthodox Church has only two Chinese priests aged over 80.

The Metropolitan mentioned that the Chinese side had earlier permitted a priest from Russia to celebrate Easter service for compatriots in Harbin's Protection Church and expressed hope that the practice of pastoral visits of Russian priests to China's Orthodox communities that lack their own priests, especially on Easter and Christmas, "will be preserved and spread to other cities."

The Metropolitan also noted that Sts Peter and Paul Fellowship in Hong Kong has been translating Orthodox prayer books, texts of the holy fathers and modern theological, ascetic and moral literature into Chinese for the past ten years.

Read the interview here.