Русский | Provided by 'DECR Communication Service of the Russian Orthodox Church'
China Visit of Russian Orthodox Church
Delegation Comes to an End
English Translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas

During a visit to China, a Russian Orthodox Church delegation led by Bishop Mark of Egorevsk, deputy chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations, had a number of meetings with Chinese officials and also with representatives of the country's various religious organizations.

On August 24, 2004 Bishop Mark visited the State Administration of Religious Affairs, where he had a lengthy discussion with Wáng Zuōān (王作安) , deputy to the Administration's director. Bishop Mark familiarized Wang Zuoan with the history and current status of the Russian Orthodox Church. Among the subjects Bishop Mark touched on were questions of inter-civilizational dialogue, restoration of the Chinese Orthodox Church, and also pastoral nourishment of Russian citizens living on the Territory of China. At the meeting, measures relating to restoring memory of the Russian Spiritual Mission, which initiated relations between Russia and China, were discussed.

During a benevolent and constructive dialogue Wang Zuoan communicated the positive attitude of Chinese authorities towards the Orthodox Church, emphasizing that Orthodoxy is as legitimate in China as the country's five major religions (Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism). Concerning the question of the Orthodox churches in Shanghai, Wang Zuoan stated that Shanghai authorities are working on restoring two Orthodox church buildings currently occupied by entertainment institutions.

Separately, the Deputy Chairman of the State Administration of Religious Affairs touched on the question of training Chinese students in Russian religious schools and restoring Chinese Orthodox Church clergy. At the same time, Wang Zuoan noted that some questions are new for the Chinese side and need to be studied. Both parties expressed a desire for further cooperation. At the end of the meeting Wang Zuoan invited Bishop Mark to again make an official visit to China.

On August 25, in the famed Beijing Daoist monastery White Clouds (Báiyún Guàn, 白云观) , was received by the Deputy Chief of the PRC's Daoist patriotic association, Zhāng Jìyǔ ( 张继禹). The parties exchanged opinions on the questions of interreligious dialogue and preservation of peace. Zhang Jiyu expressed hope for continuing to cooperate within the framework of the Chinese committe in defense of peace.

On the same day, Bishop Mark was warmly met by the Deputy Chief of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, Liú Bǎinián (刘柏年) and the Honorary Episcopal Representative Du. The representatives of Chinese Catholics familiarized Bishop Mark with the history and current status of Catholicism in the PRC. Liu Bainian warmly recollected his childhood visits to Orthodox churches in Qīngdǎo (青岛) and the help given in the past to Chinese Catholics by the Russian Spiritual Mission. Bishop Mark told the Catholic representatives about the life of the Russian Orthodox Church and thanked them for the help extended to the Orthodox in China. Liu Bainian expressed readiness to assist Orthodox believers living in the Chinese People's Republic.

A dinner was given in honor of the Russian Orthodox Church delegation on behalf of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the State Administration of Religious Affairs.

Then in the Guǎngjìsì (广济寺) monastery in Beijing the delegation members were received by the deputy secretary Shèng Huī (圣辉) of the Chinese Buddhist Association. During their conversations matters of interreligious dialogue were touched on.

On the same day the Russian Orthodox Church delegation visited the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a working meeting by Bishop Mark with Counselor Jian Hanhui during which questions discussed earlier by the MP's DECR chairman, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad and the PRC Ambassador to Russia, Liú Gǔchāng (刘古昌) . Special attention was given to the subject of pastoral nourishment of Orthodox compatriots living in China.

In the evening of the same day, on the territory of the Russian Embassy in China, Bishop Mark served a litiya for the repose of the souls of passengers who were tragically lost on Russian airplanes which crashed on the evening of August 24, as well as for all those who labored in the Russian Spiritual Mission in China. Then an Akathist to the Theotokos was sung. Following the divine service, Bishop Mark met with compatriots to discuss practical steps for organizing church life for Orthodox Russians in China. As a blessing, Bishop Mark gave the president of the Russian Club in Beijing, Sergey Shilin, an icon of the Theotokos and also informational materials on the life of the Russian Orthodox Church.

During the stay of the Moscow Patriarchate's delegation in China, Bishop Mark had number of meetings with the leadership of the Russian Embassy in China, during which, in a constructive spirit, they discussed matters of organizing church life for employees of the Russian Embassy, and also Orthodox compatriots and residents of other countries.

On August 26, after the completion of the visit program, Bishop Mark gave a dinner in honor of the leadership of Russia's Embassy in China.

Accompanying Bishop Mark during the trip was D.I. Petrovsky of DECR.