The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia expresses its surprise at all the inaccuracies in the announcement released on 15th April 2008 by the Synod of the Church of Russia, and in the declarations of His Holiness Alexios, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, on 24th June 2008, regarding the canonical jurisdiction of the Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia.
In order to restore the truth we state that the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia was founded by decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the year 1996, as a detachment from the Orthodox Metropolitanate of New Zealand. It has under its spiritual jurisdiction, and is developing missionary and charitable activities in, 23 countries of South East Asia: Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Macao, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Mongolia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Timor, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
In these countries, even before the foundation of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong, there worked with incomparable missionary zeal and a spirit of sacrifice the late Metropolitan of Proussa, Dionysios, as Metropolitan of New Zealand, and Sotirios, Metropolitan of Pisidia, as Archimandrite and Protosyngellos (Chancellor) of the Holy Metropolitanate of New Zealand, and then Bishop of Zila. Missionary work in the countries of South East Asia took on a more systematic character with the founding of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and the election of the first Metropolitan, Nikitas, who for 11 years toiled successfully to develop the work of mission. All three missionary Bishops mentioned above worked as missionaries with zeal and prudence, and those whom they baptized and to whom they taught the Orthodox faith bear witness to their work.
On 9th January 2008, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in order to better carry out missionary work, took the decision to split up the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong, which had already existed as a Metropolitanate for 12 years, and to create a new Metropolitanate, with Singapore as the seat of its see, and elected a new Metropolitan for the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong. The following countries came under the canonical jurisdiction of the new Orthodox Metropolitanate: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Timor, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
It is clear that, on 9th January the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceeded to founding a new Orthodox Metropolitanate, and not to the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong.
The actions and decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are carried out within the framework of universal mission and service to the nations of the First Throne Great Church of Christ, as defined by the 2nd and 4th Ecumenical Councils with their respective wise and unambiguous decisions, which are binding for all Orthodox.
The accusations launched by the Church of Russia against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that supposedly it is impinging on the rights of the so-called "Autonomous Church of China" and that allegedly it is breaking the unity of the Orthodox Churches, concern us, for sadly we see that in this connection it is the Church of Russia that is overlooking in an inept manner what the Church in its entirety has decided, and is proceeding to unilateral proclamations of "Autonomous Churches" and speaks of "rights over countries", reminding us of secular states of an old feudalistic kind.
The Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia, with the grace of God, is struggling to remain faithful to Orthodox tradition and practice, established by the God-bearing Fathers of our Holy Church. It remains faithful to the martyr-like, First Throne and Apostolic Ecumenical Patriarchate, for it knows that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Great Church of Christ, which is faithful to its apostolic responsibility and service throughout the world, which were assigned to Her by decisions of Ecumenical Councils, has been labouring for centuries day and night to sustain and develop missionary Churches, and principally for the unity and stability of all the Orthodox Churches.
We should understand that in the modern age the Orthodox Churches must bear witness and carry out missionary work united, without antagonistic attitudes and egotistical claims. The preservation of unity, which is a command of our Lord Jesus Christ, gives credence to the witness of Orthodoxy and keeps it far from the stain of nationalistic, political and other intentions.
Hong Kong, July 23rd 2008
From the Office of
ORTHODOX METROPOLITANATE OF HONG KONG
AND SOUTH EAST ASIA