Moscow, October 10, 2017
There are a growing number of Orthodox Christians in Uzbekistan, despite the dwindling of the Russian-speaking population, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk stated recently.
Speaking on television program “The Church and the World” on Saturday, His Eminence stated, “The Orthodox are not becoming smaller, because there is a very active parallel work being done on the catechetical and religious education of the people. That is, the Russian-speaking population has decreased, but the number of Orthodox is growing anyways,” reports Interfax-Religion.
The bishop also stated that after the collapse of the USSR, processes began in Uzbekistan that contributed to the reduction of the Russian-speaking population. The country is currently home to 840,000 Russian speakers, out of a total population of 32 million, according to statistics from January 1 of this year.
Uzbekistan has the largest population of any country in central Asia and it is estimated 85% of the population is Muslim, with 13.8% professing no religion, and a mere 0.75% professing Christianity.
Met. Hilarion emphasized that on Patriarch Kirill’s recent visit to Uzbekistan, there were very many who wanted to greet the Russian primate when he met with believers in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. During his visit, timed to the 145th anniversary of Orthodoxy in Uzbekistan, the patriarch met with the national officials and his Orthodox flock, and venerated the grave of the Prophet Daniel in Samarkand.
The first complete Bible in the Uzbek language was presented in the capital city of Tashkent on June 1 this year, at the Tashkent and Uzbekistan diocesan center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Translators worked on the project for 23 years.
It was also recently announced that materials are currently being prepared in the Tashkent Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church for the canonization of twelve New Martyrs who suffered in Uzbekistan at the hands of the godless Bolsheviks.