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
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
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.
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
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
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