Skip to comments.Vatican Asked to Honour Jesuit who Tried to Evangelise China
Posted on 01/13/2014 6:05:02 AM PST by marshmallow
Vatican City (AFP) - The Vatican on Friday received a request to beatify an Italian Jesuit priest favoured by Pope Francis whose attempts to evangelise China in the 16th century were thwarted by the Church.
"The papers for the beatification process for father Matteo Ricci have been received by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints," said Claudio Giuliodori from the Macerata diocesis in southern Italy, where the Jesuit was born in 1552.
Ricci, who died in Beijing in 1610, has been held up several times by the Jesuit pontiff as an exemplary evangelist.
"We must always ask forgiveness and look with shame upon the apostolic failures brought about by a lack of courage. I am thinking, for example, of the pioneering intuitions of Matteo Ricci which, at the time, were abandoned," Francis said in a speech in November.
During his lifetime, Ricci embodied a new approach to spreading the Catholic faith into the local culture in China.
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By the Franciscans, to be accurate.
Just to get this out of the way: he never, never said you don't have to believe in the divinity of Christ. I can see that was based on a guess of yours, mandingo, but it's not true and was never alleged even by Ricci's sharpest critics.
Fr. Ricci, an Italian Jesuit, was (in the 1580's) the first Westerner to read, write, speak, and understand Chinese, and thoroughly understand its classical literature. He and his mission colleague, Portuguese Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, invented a way to transliterate Chinese words into the Latin alphabet, and then completed a Portuguese-Chinese dictionary, the first in any Western language.
In China they quickly attracted the attention of the regional governor, and impressed him with their knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and cartography.
After various political ups and downs, Fr. Ricci was finally invited to live in the Forbidden City, in the very court of the Wanli Emperor, the only Westerner to ever be granted this distinction, mainly because they highly valued his abilities as an astronomer. He used this opportunity to engage the members of the court in discussions about the origin of the Universe, and the reasonable inference that it was created by a single all-powerful and all-intelligent Being Who had ways to make contact with them, and who was making contact with them through Jesus Christ, the true "Son of Heaven," who he said possessed greater perfections than the ideal "Son of Heaven" as envisioned by their most revered philosopher K'ung Fu-tzu (whose Latinized name was coined by Fr. Rici: "Confucius".)
Fr. Ricci began to attract converts to Christianity at the highest level of the Imperial court, based on showing that Christ met and surpassed their humanly excellent philosophical ideals, and that His sacrifice for our salvation was sufficient to bring people who repented from sin and trusted in Him, to eternal life.
The controversies came from critics back in Rome who had not studied Chinese culture and did not understand it. Some Franciscans, for instance, charged Ricci with more or less "going native" because he dressed as a Chinese sage, and related the truths of the Faith to classical Chinese philosophical thought.
Incomprehension on the part of Ricci's critics led to interference, and resulted in very nearly the extermination of the Catholic mission in China.
That he's now on track to be canonized is--- believe me --- an extremely good thing.
Ricci made a great impression at court with his knowledge of math and astronomy.