Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, Patriarchal Exarch of Africa, wrote in his Telegram channel about the Russian Orthodox Church’s mission in Africa at its present stage:
“We are expanding our geographical presence. As of today, it is 23 countries, over 200 clerics and new social, humanitarian and educational programmes.
“Acting in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, Rossotrudnichestvo, of course, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are developing large-scale projects for Africa. In many countries, they have already been launched. We maintain direct contacts with our colleagues and partners in preparing the Second Russia-Africa International Summit due to take place in St. Petersburg in July. We hope that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will take part in the forum. It will be a unique opportunity for the Russian Orthodox Church to get its viewpoint across to great many leaders, to presidents of African countries who will attend the Summit in person.
“And what the Pope failed to achieve with his brief visit to several African countries, I think the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia will manage to do brilliantly inasmuch as his African flock love, respect and thank him for what he is doing there through the agency of the Exarchate. We believe that we are really succeeding in implementing many of our plans.
“As for Uganda, its president personally supervises the process. He is a man of conservative views. I am acquainted with him. A large plot of land has been allocated for our use in Uganda to build there an administrative and religious centre of the Russian Orthodox Church, a hospital, a school and other buildings as was agreed upon by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the President of Uganda. We see good prospects for development there.
“We have no rivals. Having come to Africa, we found a canonical desert there, so to speak, for after the Patriarch of Alexandria had supported Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, they became schismatics to us. So we just go about our own business, attending to the affairs of our domain. Many things need rectifying. We deal with many issues and sometimes have to start from scratch. There are many pseudo-Christian communities which considered themselves Christian, but now they ask us to work with them and explain what the Orthodox teaching is really about. And we do that, with one missionary group after another working in Africa.
“We have good prospects because Africans see us as friends, like they did in Soviet times. Unfortunately, later, for many decades, activities of our country and the Russian Orthodox Church were limited to some extent. Yet, finally we have come to the point when we are no longer delegating our powers.
“We ourselves will be helping the African continent to develop, funding various education projects.
“At the moment, we are educating the youth. Eleven African students have completed the academic year in St. Petersburg and are about to embark on a full-time four-year programme of theological education. Several students are studying at the Moscow Pedagogical State University. Just the other day, we celebrated the Russian Language Day and an anniversary of the birth of the Russian poet and writer Pushkin, and the students read out “Our Father” in a verse form and Pushkin’s poems. They were brilliant. So, people have started to take in our culture, our glad tidings of Christ the way we received them once. We are happy to have this opportunity to convey this knowledge to our brothers, for they are our brothers, sisters and friends. And this is how they see us, because both the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state never had anything to do with neo-colonialism with regard to Africa.”