Dialogo è accettare l'altro come è e come egli stesso si definisce e si presenta a noi, di non cessare di essere se stessi mentre ci si confronta con il diverso, di essere consapevoli che la nostra identità esce arricchita e non sminuita da chi di questa identità non accetta alcuni elementi, magari anche quelli che noi riteniamo fondamentali. La riconciliazione è possibile, tra i cristiani e nella compagnia degli uomini. (Enzo Bianchi, priore della Comunità di Bose)

Matteo Ricci, Jesuit and Chinese pioneer

Today is the 400th anniversary of the death of Matteo Ricci (Li Madou), the legendary Jesuit who was born in 1552 and died in 1610. writes Michael Kelly.

His life and the example of his approach to China have been a matter of constant fascination, study and research, not least in the last six months with three international conferences - in Taipei, Paris and San Francisco - assessing his significance.

He is not only someone novel in Catholic missionary approaches. He was the first to propose and successfully live a completely fresh way for the West to engage with China. Fascination with his achievement extends well beyond Church circles.

But why did he not simply replicate the example of Francis Xavier, credited with baptizing tens, if not hundreds of thousands across Asia? Born in the year Xavier died (1552), Ricci followed a completely different path.

Where did this come from? His mentor was Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606), his Jesuit novice master in Italy and later Superior in Asia, who hand picked him and a few others to pioneer a completely different approach to the Church’s mission in Asia: “an Indian Catholicism for India, a Japanese Catholicism for Japan, a Chinese Catholicism for China.”

To achieve this — and Ricci is the most vivid instance and most successful embodiment of it — the Christian missionary has to undertake a journey: into the minds and hearts, language and culture, symbols and sensibility of those he or she seeks to evangelize.

And, coming out the other side, a new account of God’s presence in the world, the meaning of Jesus and the life of the Church can unfold.


CN - CathNews

11 maggio 2010