Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Following the Ricci trail

Following the Ricci trail

Macau has been the gateway of many explorers into China. It was the first port of call for the great ITALIAN JESUIT MISSIONARY Matteo Ricci. He built the bridge of understanding of Chinese culture and relations in China which has remained an example to all missionary endeavour to the present. His set of rules were befriend the people, learn the language, understand the culture, appreciate and appropriate the values of that culture which are consonant with the Gospel and enter into dialogue with the peoples and learn from them. Work on how one can immerse the Gospel into the culture and vice versa and never impose it.
Macau continues to be a bridge into China and amidst the plenitude of casinos and churches and it remains a melting pot of many cultures and a place where West meets East.

The inspiration of Ricci inspired many Jesuits to give their lives to China and in spite of the expulsion of foreigners under the Mao regime Chinese religious leaders and Chinese lay men and women catholics continue through their heroic commitment to give witness to freedom and to the dignity of the human person in spite of Government spying, harassment, intimidation going on in many places within China. One is bemused at times what the Chinese Government and Party organs are afraid of from Catholics and the Catholic Church. One wonders if the party is more afraid of a free internet or the Catholic Church within China? The present accomodation strategy adopted by some Western Governments to appease the Chinese Government is a source of sadness to many ordinary Chinese people who hunger for the freedom to assemble, express themselves, worship freely and have an unblocked internet. The placing of the Shanghai Catholic Bishop under virutal house arrest and the retention of the passsports of a number of religious leaders , thus curbing their feedom to travel abroad is to be abhorred. The international community and its leaders must continue to raise human rights issues with the Chinese Government. Remaining silent does a disservice to those who are voiceless within Chinese borders. International leaders who visit just to do business or just charm the Chinese leaders can never supersede issues of human rights,dignity, respect for cultural identity, freedom to travel and expression and right of assembly within China. The deprivation of such rights affects the lives of millions of Chinese in 2013. Money and good economic relationships with China must not be allowed to take priority over the promotion of human dignity and human rights within this grest country. It must however, be also acknowledged that China has travelled a long way to freedom from the oppressive days of the Mao regime and the outcome of the ‘third plenum’ published in November,2013- this is the Government policy document for the next number of years- indicates that the struggle to give more space to progressive elements within the party,Government and people is bearing results – the abolition of labour camps and re-education internments seems to be strong indicators that China under the present leadership is on the way to join the international in community in acknowledging basic freedoms. One hopes that the blueprint for reform emerging from the present leaders will bloom and grow.

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