The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took a decision at its winter session on Thursday to open a department of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC).
The Synod decision stresses the need to continue the efforts taken by the Department for External Church Relations in the dialogue with the Chinese, to normalize the situation of the Orthodox Church in China.
"Under difficult conditions, numerous Orthodox believers in China have retained the Christian faith and canonic tie with the Mother, Russian Orthodox Church," the session participants said, and their opinion is cited in the Synod's final documents.
The Russian spiritual mission had been effective in China since 1713 and was abolished for political reasons in 1954. In 1956, Russian Synod granted autonomy to the Chinese Orthodox Church and appointed archimandrite Vasily for the Beijing diocese. Following the latter's death in 1962, the Chinese Orthodox Church fell into decay.
In 1997, the Synod of the Russian Church said that under existing circumstances, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II would provide for the Orthodox Church congregation in China.
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