Chinese Orthodox Church


Chinese Orthodox Church

The Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church is an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church in China. It was granted autonomy by its mother church, the Russian Orthodox Church in the mid-1950s.

Contents

Ancient Period

Christianity is believed to have been founded in China by the apostle Thomas around the year 68 A.D.[1][2][3] There is also evidence to suggest the missionary of a few Syrian Christians during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD).[4] Some Christians attribute Isaiah 49:12 to be a prophecy of the foundation of Christianity in China. After the East-West Schism, the church in China was divided into two groups, Roman Catholicism and Chinese Orthodoxy, both present in significant amounts.

Nestorianism

Nestorian Christianity (not to be confused with Chinese Orthodoxy) was introduced to China in the 7th century by a Persian Nestorian missionary, but was suppressed in the 9th century. The Nestorian Christianity of that period is commemorated by the Nestorian Stele and Daqin Pagoda of Xi'an. Christianity was again introduced in the 13th century via the Mongol Empire during the Yuan Dynasty but declined rapidly with the coming of the native Chinese Ming Dynasty in the 14th century.

Russian Mission

Former Orthodox church in Wuhan

Russian/Siberian Orthodox missonaries arrived in China in 1685. In that year, the Kangxi Emperor resettled 31 inhabitants from the captured fort of Albazin on the Amur River.

The first mission establishment was begun in 1715 at Beijing by an Orthodox Archimandrite, Hilarion. This mission is first recorded in the Russo-Chinese Treaty of Kyakhta (1727). Under Sava Vladislavich's pressure, the Chinese government conceded to the Russians the right to build an Orthodox chapel at the ambassadorial quarters of Beijing. The mission published four volumes of research in Chinese studies in the 1850s and 60s. Two clerics became well-known for scholarship in the subject, Father Iakinf Bichurin, and the Archimandrite Palladius Kafarov, who also compiled a "very valuable" dictionary. During the Boxer Rebellion, the mission suffered greatly, including the destruction of its library.

Leaders of the Russian Mission

  • Father Maxim Leontieff, 1685-1712.
  • Archimandrite Ambrose (Umatoff), 1755-1771.
  • Archimandrite Peter (Kamensky), 1820-1830.
  • Archimandrite Policarp (Tougarinoff), 1840-1849.
  • Archimandrite Ioakinf Bichurin, 1806-1821.
  • Father Daniel Siviloff, 1820-1830.
  • Father Avvakum Chestnoy, 1830-1840.
  • Archimandrite Pallady (Kafarov), 1849–1859 and 1864-1878.
  • Archimandrite Gury (Karpoff), 1858-1864.
  • Father Flavian, 1878-1884.
  • Archimandrite Amfilochy (Loutovinoff), 1883-1896.
  • Metropolitan Innocent (Figourovsky) of Beijing and All-China. Archimandrite 1897-1901, Bishop of Beijing 1902-1921, Archbishop of Beijing and All-China 1922-1928, Metropolitan 1928-1931.
  • Archbishop Simon (Vinogradov), 1928-1933.
  • Archbishop Victor (Svjatin) of Beijing. Bishop of Shanghai 1928-1933, Bishop of Beijing and All-China 1933-1938, Archbishop 1938-1956.
  • Saint John Maximovitch, Bishop of Shanghai 1934-~1946, Archbishop ~1946-1949.

Boxer Rebellion and the Cultural Revolution

The Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900 saw violent attacks on Chinese converts to Christianity. Some Orthodox Chinese were among those killed, and in June every year, the 222 Chinese Orthodox, including Father Mitrophan, who died in 1900, are commemorated as remembered on the icon of the Holy Martyrs of China. The mission's library at Beijing was also burned down. In spite of the uprising, by 1902, there were 32 Orthodox churches in China with close to 6,000 adherents[citation needed]. The church also ran schools and orphanages.

106 Orthodox churches were opened in China by 1949. In general, the parishioners of these churches were Russian refugees and the Chinese part was composed of about 10,000 people. Many churches were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (St Nicholas' Orthodox church in Harbin, for example).[citation needed]

Today

Although the People's Republic of China extends official recognition to some religious communities (Protestantism, Islam, Taoism and Buddhism), Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism are not among them (though with the latter, the Chinese government had formed a "Patriotic Catholic Church" or "Patriotic Catholic Association" which is not in communion with Rome). The officially declared reason for the government's non-recognition of the Orthodox Church is the government's fear that external political forces from outside nations—in this case, primarily Russia—could achieve influence within China.[citation needed]

Several Orthodox congregations continue to meet in Beijing, in northeast China (in Heilongjiang and elsewhere) and in western China (Xinjiang - Urumqi and Ghulja) with, apparently, the tacit consent of the government. There are also Orthodox parishes in Shanghai, Province of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Two former Orthodox churches in Shanghai are currently in a process of being returned to the church but no activities are currently held inside them.

Meanwhile, as from the early 21st century, Orthodoxy operates relatively freely in Hong Kong (where the Ecumenical Patriarch has sent a metropolitan. Bishop Nikitas and the Russian Orthodox parish of Saint Peter and Saint Paul resumed its operation) and Taiwan (where archimandrite Jonah George Mourtos leads a mission church).

Orthodox Evenkis

Although many of them have adopted Lamaism — which is the mainstream form of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism — the Evenks of both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China are a nominally Orthodox Christian people. Along with their Evenks cousins and a few other tribes in Siberia or in China, they are some of the only Asiatic peoples who nominally practice Orthodox Christianity, which they had voluntarily (as opposed to being coerced to do so) adopted. There are also around 3,000 Evenks in neighbouring Heilongjiang Province.

Further reading

References

External links


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