The chief ecumenical officer of the Russian Orthodox Church has met with a leading figure in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, in a gesture that suggests the Moscow patriarchate is seeking an alliance with China’s government-backed “official” Church.
Metropolitan Hilarion, who heads the External Relations department for the Moscow patriarchate, met with Bishop Ma Yinglin of Kunming, who is the vice-president of the Patriotic Association and president of the bishops’ conference recognized by the government.
The Vatican does not recognize the Chinese bishops’ conference, and has ordered Catholics not to cooperate with the Patriotic Association. Bishop Ma Yinglin, like several other members of the “official” bishops’ conference, has incurred excommunication by his involvement in episcopal ordinations unauthorized by the Holy See.
Father Bernardo Cervellera of the AsiaNews service notes that the Russian Orthodox Church is anxious to obtain Chinese recognition for the few Orthodox communities in China.
That ambition may provide the motivation for a bid by Moscow to strengthen ties with the “official” Catholic Church.