Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity opened in 2006 for Russian, Bulgarian and Romanian communities in Pyongyang. The work of the Asian Orthodox Exarchate, based in Singapore. TPatriarchate of Moscow activities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, South and North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. The importance of former Soviet friendships.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) will visit North Korea at the invitation of President Kim Jong-un. The Patriarchal exarch for Southeast Asia, the 45-year-old metropolitan of Singapore Sergij (Chashin) revealed the news on March 3, meeting with journalists in Bangkok. He added "in Pyongyang they always welcome us very cordially, we carry out our service there and I am recognized as the legitimate bishop".
The exarch recalled the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Pyongyang, opened years ago and built by decree of then North Korean executive Kim Jong-il as a symbol of Russian-Korean friendship. At the end of its construction, in August 2006, the church was solemnly consecrated by the then metropolitan of Smolensk Kirill, the current patriarch.
"The last time I was in Pyongyang was November," Metropolitan Sergij continued, "and I celebrated the Divine Liturgy. I saw how authorities are well disposed towards the Russian Orthodox Church. Diplomats, and also the staff of the embassies of Bulgaria and Romania, pray in our Church. We have no problem in the running of our activities in Northern Korea ".
Extending his gaze to other countries, Sergij noted that the life of the Orthodox is not so simple in Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, "where legislation is very strict for religious organizations; in Vietnam, however, we have managed over the years to reach an understanding with the office for religious affairs. Now they know us and we are constantly in contact, we have obtained permission to open a community in the seaside town of Vung Tau; for now the parish is active in a private house, but with a stable priest ".
The Russian projects in Vietnam now focus on Hanoi and the city of Ho-Chi-Minh, where there are many Russians. The hope is to send a a stable priest to Hanoi at Easter where the Russian embassy has obtained land in exchange for a similar plot in Moscow, on which the Vietnamese have opened a commercial and cultural center. The Russian project involves the construction of an Orthodox church in the center of Hanoi.
In Thailand the archimandrite Oleg (Cherepanin) works as a representative of the patriarchy throughout the country. At the press conference he also explained the situation of the Russian parish of Laos: "Two years ago Bishop Mark came to Thailand, and we organized a meeting with the leadership of the Lao government party and the national housing fund. We have found them very willing, they have promised that they will register our Church, on condition that it is requested by Laotian citizens ".
The negotiations in Laos will have to be resumed after a pause, the archimandrite explained, "but we think there will be no difficulties: the exarch will have to go to Laos and meet with the party leaders, to confirm the announced decisions. Many Laos leaders and officials have studied in the Soviet Union, and have maintained friendly relations with Russia. "
The Asian Orthodox exarchate, based in Singapore, was established last December 28 by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, together with the metropolis for Western Europe. The activities of the Moscow Patriarchate in Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, South and North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand refer to it. On 26 February the exarchate was divided into four dioceses: Singapore, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam-Philippines.
The decision to form the exarchate officially depends on the successes of the Russian missions in the countries of Southeast Asia, with the opening of dozens of new parishes. At the same time, the structure has the task of taking care of the faithful in place of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, which claims assistance in all territories not traditionally Orthodox, but with which Moscow has broken off relations after the creation of the Ukrainian autocephalous Church .