John Paul II Has Keen Interest in Dialogue with China

Presents Figure of Matteo Ricci as Model of Inculturation

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 5, 2001 ( John Paul II today said he follows with great interest the dialogue with China, especially the two congresses that will be held in Rome and Beijing in October on the figure of Matteo Ricci, the great evangelizer of that country.

The two congresses are the initiative of the Italian-Chinese Institute, and commemorate the fourth centenary of the arrival of the Jesuit missionary in the Asian nation.

Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) is considered a national figure even by the Chinese Communist Party. He took the European wisdom and science of the time, specifically trigonometry, to the great Oriental empire.

“Probably no European name of past centuries is so well known in China as that of Li-ma-teu (Ricci, Matteo),” states the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The diocesan phase of Ricci´s cause of beatification has been completed, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray revealed recently. The cardinal is in close touch with the Italian-Chinese Institute.

Chinese, American and European scholars will participate in the congresses on Ricci, and they will recall the “person and enterprises of that great Jesuit missionary,” the Pope said at the end of his midweek general audience.

“I follow these important initiatives with great interest and I hope they will have complete success, as the figure of Matteo Ricci is a precious model for anyone working in the field of proclamation of the Gospel in different cultural and religious contexts,” the Pope added.

At the end of the audience, Cesare Romiti, president of the Italian-Chinese Institute, and one of the most important industrialists in Italy, and Giulio Andreotti, the institute´s honorary president and a former Prime Minister, greeted the Holy Father.

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