Moscow, August 29, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill's exarch in Southeast Asia Metropolitan Sergy justified actions of the Russian Orthodox Church in the region as they were questioned by Metropolitan Ambrose of Korea from the Constantinople Patriarchate in his interview.
"The pastoral and missionary ministry of the Russian Orthodox Church in Asia has never been challenged by any Local Orthodox Church; on the contrary, it was welcomed", the Russian hierarch wrote in his open letter to the Constantinople metropolitan as its text was conveyed to Interfax.
In response to accusations in non-canonical actions Metropolitan Sergy reminded his counterpart the history of Orthodoxy in Southeast Asia.
"Russian priests began their pastoral ministry in China in 1685; St. Nicholas (Kasatkin) came to Japan in 1861, and the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Korea was established in 1897. Russian parishes appeared in Indonesia in 1934; in the same year, a parish was opened in Manila. St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai celebrated the first divine services in Vietnam in 1949. This is only some of the documentary evidence of the beginning of the Russian Church's mission in the countries of South and Southeast Asia during which no other Orthodox Church was represented," he writes.
Metropolitan Sergy also noted that the Mission's work was forcibly stopped. After the end of World War II, the South Korean authorities and the American occupation administration waged a struggle for several years, seeking to bring the Mission out of the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Incapable of doing it by any legal means, the South Korean authorities in 1949 banished the Mission's head Archimandrite Polycarp from the country. For political reasons, the work of the Mission was suspended and its property was confiscated, the Metropolitan reminds.
"Therefore, today we speak not of the establishment of a 'parallel Church' but of the restoration of the ecclesiastical mission of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is conditioned by the need to provide pastoral care to our compatriots in all parts of the globe including Asia, as well as by the impossibility of our flock at present to partake of the Mysteries in the Church of Constantinople as it has entered into communion with schismatics and invaded the canonical bounds of the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine," he writes.
Metropolitan Sergy reminded that Metropolis of Korea had recently celebrated the 119th anniversary of the first Divine Liturgy in Korea - that is, the anniversary of the beginning of the Russian Church's mission in Korea. "Do you want to say that you celebrated an anniversary of 'non-canonical actions'?" wonders the Russian Church hierarch.
He also said that "our Churches are experiencing a difficult period in relationships."
"But let us do all we can to ensure that the flock in Korea and other countries of Southeast Asia is not affected by them, so that everyone can have an opportunity for praying and partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ and can preach Orthodoxy without hindrance", Metropolitan Sergy resumed his letter to his Constantinople brother.
As was reported, establishment of two patriarchal exarchates - in Europe and Asia - was the ROC response to non-canonical, on its opinion, decisions of Constantinople in Ukraine.
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