Русский | DECR Communication Service| November 21, 2009
English translation by Katherine Ilachinski

Archbishop Hilarion visited Orthodox churches in Shanghai and met with the head of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs

On November 20, 2009 after service on the premises of the Consulate General of Russia in Shanghai, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of Moscow Patriarchate, Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk and members of the delegation of the DECR and the Council for Cooperation with Religious Associations under the President of the Russian Federation visited the preserved Orthodox church buildings in Shanghai. The delegation was accompanied by the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Shanghai A.A. Sharonov with his wife, Consul-Advisors of General Consulate of Russia in Shanghai, O.A. Zuev and S.Y. Pal'tov, dean of the Orthodox community in the city Archpriest Alexei Kiselevich, chairman of the Russian Club in Shanghai and of the Council of compatriots in China, M.V. Drozdov, Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of China Liu Jinguang (刘金光), Director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Ethnic and Religious Affairs Ban Xinhua and the Deputy Director of the Commission Yanbin Xu.

In Shanghai, at the time of termination of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China (1954) there were 12 temples which were opened in the 1920 - 1930. To the present moment only two church buildings survived.

Cathedral in honor of the Mother of God "Surety of Sinners" (Sporuchnitsa) was built in 1937 by emigrants from Russia with the donations, which were collected over many years. The temple was the pride of all Russian émigrés in China and was called "the Kremlin of Chinese Orthodoxy".

St. Nicholas Church was erected in 1934 in memory of the murder of Emperor Nicholas II, now celebrated by Russian Orthodox Church in the choir of the saints. Near the cathedral bishop's house remained, where local bishops lived - St. John of Shanghai, Bishop Simeon (Du).

After the death of the Bishop of Shanghai Simeon (Du) in 1965, churches were nationalized, declared architectural monuments and taken under protection. They were subsequently transferred for commercial use. The Cathedral for more than 20 years was used as a warehouse. In the vestibule of the cathedral was a restaurant appointed, in the Cathedral itself the Stock Exchange was housed, and later — also a restaurant and nightclub. The restaurant was opened in Saint Nicholas church.

Use of temple buildings in Shanghai for entertainment purposes, insulting the religious feelings of Orthodox believers and the memory of many compatriots who have found their refuge in Shanghai, has repeatedly been the subject of appeals to Chinese authorities by the Chairman of Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (now Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia). After his Patriarchal enthronement, he also touched on this during a meeting with the head of China's State Administration of Religious Affairs Ye Xiaowen. Russian Club in Shanghai - a public organization of Russian compatriots - for its part drew public attention to this issue and sent a petition to the mayor of the city. The initiative was supported by the Consulate General of Russia in Shanghai.

Currently, in the Cathedral of Shanghai in honor of Mother of God "Surety of sinners" operation of a nightclub was discontinued and the interior of the club dismantled. The restoration work was carried out, during which in the dome was revealed partially preserved frescos, the building converted into a showroom. From Nicholas Church the restaurant was closed, but in the church building operates a private club.

Chairman of the DECR began inspection of the Cathedral of Shanghai, where at present an exhibition of contemporary Russian art is held.

In St. Nicholas church, the delegation made a brief prayer and sang hymns in honor of the Blessed Mother and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker.

After visiting the temple there was a meeting of Archbishop Hilarion and members of the Russian delegation with the Director of Shanghai Municipal Commission for Ethnic and Religious Affairs Cao Bin (曹斌), which was also attended by the Consul General of the Russian Federation A. Sharonov, Archpriest Alexis Kiselevich, spiritual father of Orthodox compatriots in Shanghai, Director of Department of the State Administration for Religious Affairs of China Liu Jinguang, Director of Shanghai Municipal Commission for Ethnic and Religious Affairs Ban Xinhua and deputy director of the Commission, Xu Yanbin.

In a frank conversation were discussed in detail all issues related to the use of Orthodox churches in Shanghai at present, as well as spiritual needs of Orthodox Russians and other nationalities living in Shanghai. In view of the World Exhibition EXPO-2010 held in Shanghai from May to October 2010, was specifically addressed the question of the organization of worship for Orthodox visitors.

Cao Bin assured the Russian guests of the intention to consider carefully the issues raised and to take possible steps for a positive solution.