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Russian Orthodox want to firm up presence in China

KHABAROVSK (Agencies): “We’re holding a rather difficult dialogue to normalise the position of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church,” the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, from Volokolamsk in Russia, said during a visit to Khabarovsk Theological Seminary, just 30 kilometres from the Chinese border.

“There have been periods of flourishing and decay in its history, today much has been destroyed, but something still survived,” Interfax reported him as saying on June 20.

The metropolitan said prior to his departure for Beijing that the Russian Orthodox Church has been working with Chinese leaders to open the churches that have been closed and to fill already opened churches “with the words of prayer, so that our compatriots and Chinese citizens can freely live their religious life.”

Metropolitan Hilarion told the students in the seminary, “The Far East is a special territory. It is Russia’s eastern lookout post on the border with the other great state. You should know your neighbour well, his culture, people and language.”

He expressed the hope that one day they will be in a position to enlighten Chinese people who are striving to learn more about the Orthodox faith while they are visiting Russia.

Metropolitan Ignaty, from the Khabarovsk and Amur Region, told Metropolitan Hilarion that a new branch had been set up in the seminary to train specialists in the Chinese language and culture and asked him for help in this undertaking.

Metropolitan Hilarion also met with the head of the Khabarovsk Territory, Vyacheslav Shport, who reminded him that when Patriarch Kirill was a metropolitan, he participated in the Church life of the city.

He cited his decision on where to build the Transfiguration Cathedral as an example. The governor then conveyed an official invitation to the primate to visit the region.

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