HE Mt. Nikitas and
Rev. Dionisy Pozdnyaev
near St. Paul Basilica in Rome
The Fifth European Ecumenical Conference on Christianity in China, which
took place in Rome on September 16-20, drew over 160 participants from
20 countries. The Orthodox Church was represented by Metropolitan
Nikitas of Hong Kong (Patriarchate of Constantinople) and by Priest
Dionisy Pozdnyaev and by Dimitry Petrovsky of the Moscow Patriarchate's
Department of External Affairs.
Conference topics pertained largely to modern day problems of the
Protestant and Catholic (Roman and patriotic) churches in the PRC.
However, a certain amount of attention was also devoted to actual
problems of China's Autonomous Orthodox Church. Therefore the
presentations expressed the hope for accelerating the prolonged process
of normalizing the position of the Orthodox Church in China, which
aspires to exist in unity and harmony with society.
D. Petrovsky and
Rev. J. Charbonier in Vatican City
It was noted that the basic difficulties of Orthodox communities in
China are the non-realization of their potential, many undecided
questions pertaining to restoring the hierarchy, clerical ranks and
educational system, and reviving communities in places such as Beijing,
where an Orthodox community historically existed from 1685 until the
period of the so-called "cultural revolution." The so-called
"underground Catholic" Church in China, as well as the PRC's numerous
Protestant organizations which are not part of the Protestant patriotic
union, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, often refrained from officially
registering their communities, as demanded by PRC authorities.
Special attention was given by conference attendees to the topics of
training students from the PRC in religious educational establishments
of Western Europe, the educational work of western scholars in
Protestant and Catholic seminaries of the PRC, the Christian Churches'
formation of cultural and social strategies in contemporary China, the
question of inter-religious dialogue in the PRC and the problems of
developing a uniform language for the study of biblical texts.