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Vol. XIV, N. 12 4 June 2010
Papal Audience. On 29 May, Father General, together with nearly one thousand Jesuits and friends attended an audience with Pope Benedict XVI held in the Paul VI's Aula for the Macerata Diocese on the occasion of the 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death. Prior to the Pope's arrival there was an hour of music, songs, and testimonials. Father General offered personal reflections on his experience in Asia, describing Father Ricci as a person with great passion for the Gospel, a genius who entered history, and left his mark on it. He highlighted the fact that Matteo Ricci entered into a world, the Chinese world, rich in culture, and worked in it with flexibility and creativity. The Holy Father, speaking to the nearly eight thousand people in attendance, hoped that the celebrations honoring Matteo Ricci could be a stimulus for a renewed dialogue between the Gospel and Chinese culture. The Pope continued, "this is a unique instance of a happy synthesis between the proclamation of the Gospel and the dialogue with the culture of a people to whom we bring it, an example of balance between clarity of doctrine and careful pastoral action. Not simply a thorough learning of the language, but also the patient study and acceptance of the life style and customs common to upper echelons of Chinese society were the means used by Matteo Ricci to win the respect and esteem of the Chinese, not as a foreigner but as a Master from the West... The choices he made came not from an abstract strategy of inculturation of the faith, but from the whole set of events, encounters, and experiences he had. He could, with thankfulness, realize the full encounter with Chinese culture: an encounter lived in a variety of ways, and deepened through the relationship with friends and disciples, particularly the famous first four converts, who were the pillars of the newborn Chinese Church."
From the Curia
The yearly meeting of Major Superiors of the Western Europe Assistancy will be held at the Curia from the 10th to the 14th of June. It will be a time to exchange information on the situation of each Province and the challenges each is facing especially in the areas of finance and organization. Father General will participate in one of the sessions, especially in the discussion on the demographic changes in the Society and its future role in Europe. Another important theme on the agenda will be planning and discussion of a spirituality program for European Jesuits, as well as the appointment of the Assistancy's new moderator.
From the Provinces
CHINA: New Institute Launched in Shanghai
Fudan University in Shanghai launched its Xu-Ricci Dialogue Institute on 11 May; the Institute is part of the university's School of Philosophy. According to Jesuit Father Benoit Vermander, co-director of the Institute, it is the first Chinese academic center to also bear the name of Paul Xu Guangqi, who was Ricci's closest Chinese friend and the first Catholic in Shanghai. The new center aims to promote academic research, the teaching of religious studies, and a comparison of Chinese and Western cultures and philosophies. On opening day, the Institute hosted a colloquium attended by nearly 70 Chinese and foreign scholars in the fields of economics, philosophy and religious studies discussing religious dialogue and the challenges faced by the Chinese and global communities. That same evening these scholars attended the launch of the digital edition of the Grand Ricci, a Chinese-French dictionary. Paul Xu Guangqi was a scholar and an official of the imperial court who worked closely with Father Ricci to translate western texts into Chinese, and Confucian classics into Latin.
KENYA: Crisis for the Somali refugees
The situation of thousands of displaced Somalis is deteriorating as heavy fighting has forced many of them to flee their homes, most to neighbouring Kenya. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), conditions are precarious in the sprawling, increasingly overcrowded and under-resourced camps. Many observers are concerned that Kenya may not have the capacity to accommodate the massive influx of refugees with so many basic needs. Thousands more are expected to cross into Kenya this year. Most are likely to arrive in Dadaab, a camp city that already hosts three overcrowded refugee camps housing 270,000 refugees. A further 64,000 refugees, more than half of whom are from Somalia, are hosted in Kakuma camp. "The burden on these countries is enormous. Upon arrival in the refugee camps, most displaced persons are confused, traumatized, and view their lives as hopeless. Refugees depend almost exclusively on food and non-food items and services provided by humanitarian agencies", stated a spokesperson for Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Kenya. JRS expects to provide healthcare, social, community, and education services to more than 15,000 refugees in 2010, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.
INDIA: Jesuit Alumni Support African Students
Four young men and six young women from Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are set to attend Indian universities with help from the Jesuit Alumni Association of India. The association decided to offer assistance when, during the 2009 World Congress of Jesuit Alumni at Bujumbura, Burundi, the African Alumni Association president said that the lack of adequate universities hinders the education of their students. Naresh Kumar Gupta, Jesuit Alumni Association of India's secretary, said his association would ask Jesuit colleges to sponsor students from Africa, and if institutions find it difficult, the association would generate funds. He said they plan to fund tuition and fees with students providing for their own board and lodging expenses.
ITALY: Eusebio Chini towards beatification
2011 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Father Eusebio Francesco Chini (1645-1711). His cause for canonization was officially introduced almost thirty years ago on 25 May 1971, and is ongoing. The vice-postulator of his cause is Saverian Father Domenico Calarco, a well-known historian and expert on the missionary from Trent. In Segno, the hometown of Father Chini, Father Calarco declared that he is optimistic about developments; the task awaiting him is both fascinating and difficult. "In addition to being a scholar, I am a devotee of Father Chino, and I could never imagine I would receive such a mandate," he confessed. On the 7th of July 1988 the Holy See granted permission to open the beatification process finding no impediments but the process has suffered a number of delays. Documents from Mexico, together with those from Trent in care of the committee from the respective dioceses, were complete in 2002, but only arrived in Rome in 2006. It would be ideal to bring this to a conclusion by 2011, the 300th anniversary of his death. "But we have no deadline, we are in the hands of the Lord," concluded Father Calarco. Next year Father Chino will be commemorated in the Jesuit Yearbook, published in several major languages by the Society of Jesus.
SPAIN: A Course on Ignatian Spirituality
In 2011, a course on Ignatian Spirituality, in English, will be held at the Cova de Sant Ignasi Spirituality Centre in Manresa; it will last five weeks, from April 27th to June 4th. The title of the course is The Ignatian Charism for the world of today; an International Immersion Course on Ignatian Spirituality. The course is open to Jesuits, lay people, and religious who are nourished by the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola and form part of the "Ignatian family." Objective of the course: the Ignatian charism clearly has a valuable contribution to make to Christian life in our world today. This course provides an opportunity to study the legacy of Ignatius of Loyola in some depth, both as an inspiration for authentic Christian living in contemporary society and Church, and as a means for the spiritual formation of individuals and groups. Method: lectures will take place alongside personal study and an on-going dialogue aimed to helping participants to integrate their various experiences. It will be an important part of the method to live in this place where Ignatius himself spent an important part of his life (Manresa) and to visit various other Ignatian sites (Montserrat, Loyola, Javier), so that the study can be vivid and contextualized. This quality of spiritual experience will be a constant theme throughout the course as will appropriate times of prayer and Eucharistic celebration. For more information write or visit: IgnatianCourse@covamanresa.cat, www.covamanresa.cat
The 4th centenary of Matteo Ricci's death
Taiwan: Dialogue Must Continue. "Matteo Ricci: the communication and dialogue between Chinese and Western cultures" was the theme of a talk given by Paul Cardinal Shan Kuo-his, S.J., Emeritus Bishop of the Diocese of Kao Hsiung, during an international conference held at Fu Ren Catholic University. Cardinal Shan emphasized the invaluable contribution of his Jesuit brother, because "he opened the iron door of the Chinese Ming Dynasty and he became the bridge for cultural exchange between China and the West. At the same time, he brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to China, thus founding the local Chinese Church. He explained faith in God using Chinese concepts and became a witness of faith with his life and his entire being." Cardinal Shan also noted that Father Matteo Ricci anticipated, by some four centuries, the Second Vatican Council which enunciated the three principles of interreligious dialogue: "mutual respect, mutual understanding, sincere collaboration." The secret of his missionary success lay in diligent study of, knowledge of, and respect for Chinese culture.
China: The "Year of Matteo Ricci" in the Shanghai Diocese. The diocese of Shanghai launched its "Matteo Ricci Year" on 11 May which continues until 11 December 2010. "It aims to boost evangelization work among priests, nuns and laypeople", said Jesuit Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian at the opening ceremony held in Sheshan Seminary on the outskirts of the city. The Matteo Ricci year is "not merely a commemoration, but has practical significance for Catholics on how they can continue the priest's work of adapting the faith to Chinese culture" he added. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi said Father Ricci followed Chinese customs, understood Chinese culture well and treasured his friendship with Chinese intellectuals. "He deserves to be the model for our diocese in spreading the Gospel in these fast-changing times," he said. Massimo Roscigno, the Italian Consul General in Shanghai who attended the event, said people should follow Father Ricci's example of forging "friendship between China and Italy." He pointed out that if the priest had not had help from his good Chinese friend Paul Xu Guangqi, he could not have completed his writings in Chinese or translated Chinese classics into Latin. The 11th of May ceremony was held at the conclusion of the diocesan pilgrimage held at Shanghai's Sheshan Marian Shrine that same day. About 1,000 Catholics gathered at the hilltop Minor Basilica of St. Mary to pray for strength to follow in the footsteps of Father Ricci. After the Mass, they were given leaflets promoting the cause for sainthood of Father Ricci and Xu Guangqi.
China: Hopes for Ricci-Xu Canonizations. The Chinese Province of the Society of Jesus hopes that Matteo Ricci and his Chinese collaborator Paul Xu Guangqi can be canonized together. This is not only in line with the modern Church's trend of cooperation between priests and lay people, but would also encourage young Chinese men to consider religious vocation and perhaps even join the Jesuits, said Father Louis Gendron, Provincial of China. "It is a rare thing in Church history for a foreign missioner and his local collaborator to be proclaimed saints together," he said. The Jesuit Chinese Province began assisting the Holy See with the cause for sainthood of Father Ricci in early May. His native diocese of Macerata re-launched the process in January after it had lost some impetus following the initial phase concluded in 1985. The diocese of Shanghai, the birthplace of Xu (1562-1633) plans to begin his cause for sainthood and has urged local Catholics to pray for it.
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In "Jesuit Voices": a podcast with Father Bill Oulvey, a Jesuit from the Missouri Province (USA). For the past four years he has served the Society of Jesus as Secretary of the US Assistancy in Rome.