Browsing News Entries

Pope Francis praises Matteo Ricci for proclaiming the Gospel in China

Pope Francis at his general audience in St Peter’s Square on May 31, 2023. / Adi Zace/EWTN

Vatican City, May 31, 2023 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis dedicated his entire general audience on Wednesday to sharing the life of Venerable Matteo Ricci, a 16th-century Jesuit missionary in China.

The pope, who has mentioned China at every Wednesday general audience in the past three weeks, praised Ricci’s “missionary spirit” in witnessing to the Gospel in the heart of the Imperial City of Beijing.

“Matteo Ricci died in Beijing in 1610 at the age of 57, a man who gave his entire life for the mission,” Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on May 31.

“His love for the Chinese people is a model, but what represents a current path is his consistency of life, the witness of his life as a Christian.”

Ricci is known for introducing Christianity to China’s imperial Ming Dynasty. By studying the language and adopting the local clothes and customs, the Jesuit priest gained access to the interior parts of the country that had been closed to outsiders.

“He always followed the path of dialogue and friendship with all the people he met, and this opened many doors for him to proclaim the Christian faith,” the pope said.

“After Francis Xavier’s attempt, another 25 Jesuits had tried in vain to enter China. But Ricci and one of his confrères prepared themselves very well, carefully studying the Chinese language and customs,” he said.

After first arriving in Macao in 1582, Ricci persevered in China for 18 years before he was able to enter Beijing’s Imperial City.

Pope Francis described how Ricci engaged in dialogue with Chinese scholars, sharing mathematical and astronomical knowledge that “contributed to a fruitful encounter between the culture and science of the West and the East.”

“However, Ricci’s fame as a man of science must not obscure the deepest motivation of all his efforts: that is, the proclamation of the Gospel,” the pope said.

“With the scientific dialogue, with the scientists, he went forward, but he gave testimony of his own faith, of the Gospel. The credibility obtained through scientific dialogue gave him the authority to propose the truth of Christian faith and morality, of which he spoke in depth in his principle Chinese works, such as ‘The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven.’”

Once Ricci entered Beijing in January 1601, he never left. He is buried in Beijing’s Zhalan Cemetery, the first foreigner to be buried on Chinese soil during the Ming dynasty.

“In the last days of his life, to those who were closest to him and asked him how he felt, Matteo Ricci ‘responded that he was thinking at that moment if the joy he felt inside was greater than the idea that he was close to the end of his journey to go and taste God, or the sadness that could cause him to leave the companions of the whole mission that he loved greatly, and the service he could still do to God Our Lord in this mission,’” the pope said.

Pope Francis underlined that it was prayer that nourished Ricci’s missionary life in which he helped “lead many of his disciples and Chinese friends to accept the Catholic faith.”

He said that missionaries can learn from how Ricci testified with his own life to what he proclaimed. Francis said: “This is the consistency of evangelizers. … I can say the ‘Creed’ by heart, I can say all the things we believe, but if your life is not consistent with what you profess, it’s useless."

“What attracts people is the testimony of coherence; we Christians are called to live what we say, and not pretend to live as Christians but live as worldly.”

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause for Ricci last December on the pope’s 86th birthday. In the decree promulgated on Dec. 17, the pope declared that Ricci lived a life of heroic virtue, making him “venerable.”

Last week, at the end of his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray that the Gospel can be fully and freely shared in China.

“I invite everyone to lift up prayers to God that the good news of the crucified and risen Christ can be announced in its fullness, beauty, and freedom, bearing fruit for the good of the Catholic Church and all of Chinese society,” he said.

Pope, Brazil’s president hold phone call about peace in Ukraine, fight against poverty

Pope Francis speaks by phone with Brazilian President Lula da Silva to discuss their hopes for peace in Ukraine and efforts to combat poverty, with the President inviting the Pope to make a second visit to Brazil.

Read all


World religions to share values and knowledge at COP28

Pope Francis receives the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders and the Special Representative of the UAE Presidency to discuss the crucial contribution of faith communities in the upcoming COP28 conference in Dubai.

Read all


Young peace-makers meet with Pope in Vatican

As a group from the Citadel of Peace project meet with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square, a participant from Bosnia speaks to Vatican News, stressing the importance of the “creative transformation” of conflict.

Read all


Vatican Observatory Summer School reopens its doors

The Vatican Observatory will host its biennial summer school in observational astronomy and astrophysics from 4-30 June 2023 at the Papal Summer Gardens of Castel Gandolfo where 24 students from 20 nations will gather.

Read all


WCC condemns attack against Christian rally in Jerusalem

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Jerry Pillay, expresses concern over a violent protest by Jewish extremists against an Evangelical Christian event in Jerusalem, upholding that Jerusalem is a shared Holy City of three religions.

Read all


Indonesia: Digital freedom decline poses risks for 2024 elections

Indonesia’s gradual decline in digital freedom concerns Southeast Asian lawmakers as the country approaches its general elections in 2024.

Read all


Filipina Camillian sister emphasizes the importance of healthcare

Sister Benilda Quimio, a Filipina vocation director of the Congregation of the Sister Ministers of the Infirm of St. Camillus in the Philippines, highlights the vital role of healthcare in the lives of people and explains why nurturing life is important in the communities.

Read all


Unicef Somalia: 400,000 displaced by floods

Unicef warns that the climate crisis has led to severe drought and sudden flooding in Somalia leaving hundreds of thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance.

Read all


Dicastery for Clergy signs agreement on protection of minors

Following on its agreement with the Dicastery for Evangelisation, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Dicastery for Clergy. The latest agreement aims at guaranteeing reception spaces for survivors, futher developing the indications of the “Ratio Nationalis”, and implementing permanent training for priests.

Read all