2018-12-06 11:16:00

Russian embassy outraged by Constantinople 'ascribing' itself Russian church in Pyongyang

Pyongyang, December 6, Interfax - The Patriarchate of Constantinople has added a church built by the staff of the Russian diplomatic mission in North Korea to the list of its parishes on the Korean Peninsula, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said on its Facebook page.

"We were quite surprised that far-away Istanbul seriously considers Pyongyang's St. Trinity Church to be its own. At any rate, that follows from the calendar published by the Patriarchate of Constantinople's Metropolinate of Korea to mark Patriarch Bartholomew's visit to Seoul," the embassy said.

"[This is] yet another outburst of [Constantinople's] inappropriate ambitions, which have been met with a worthy rebuff from the Korean side every time," the embassy said, mentioning that Patriarch Bartholomew "was turned away" recently when he requested an audience in Pyongyang.

"The Orthodox Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK] has not once and not twice explained its position to the Turkish subjects: the St. Trinity Church was erected as a symbol of Korean-Russian friendship at the decision of former DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. At the request of the Orthodox Committee of the DPRK, the Trinity parish is under the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, and it has been a place of worship for many years, including for diplomats from the Russian embassy. The ecumenical patriarchate, which was delivered to Korea on the bayonets of Greek soldiers in 1950, by definition cannot have anything to do with this project," the embassy said.

The site of the church was chosen by a former ambassador, Andrey Karlov, and the church compound was built, equipped, and decorated by the embassy staff, their families, and Koreans at their own expense and with funding from Vladivostok-based donors and art patrons, the embassy said.

"Our icons, a Russian iconostasis, and the Voronezh belfry are there. A Moscow-based art company called Radost painted the vaults beautifully. In August 2006, pieces of the holy remains of Russian New Martyrs and Confessors were placed in the middle of the altar, and it was solemnly consecrated by Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, now His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Now the priests of the church and graduates from religious schools in Moscow and Khabarovsk are saying prayers for it and for their superior, Archbishop Sergy of Solnechnogorsk, without mentioning Bartholomew," the embassy said.

The church has a permanent congregation of around 150 people, who are all either employees of the embassy or their family members.

"The question is: What does Patriarch Bartholomew have to do with our church? What does he need it for? To entertain his ambitions? To turn the fruit of Russian missionaries' service into petty politics feeding off of the faith? He won't be allowed to cause the kind of chaos he managed to cause in Ukraine here in the DPRK. We haven't seen any Greeks here, but if they came to pray with us, we would be glad to see our brothers in faith. But under no circumstances will Patriarch Bartholomew be able to get a hold of our church," the embassy said.