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Please read: The Future of the Sino-Vatican Dialogue From an Ecclesiastical Point of View by John Cardinal Tong (Hong Kong), 
ourtesy of Holy Spirit Study Centre (Hong Kong)

Matteo Ricci Award Dinner 2016: Thursday, November 3, 2016

Between July 11-12, 2016, Fr. Rob attended a conference at UC San Diego.
Panel Discussion: "Christianity in China: Globalization and Localization"

A public lecture given by Fr. Robert E. Carbonneau, CP (with a response by Dr. Cattoi) on April 12, 2016 at the Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, Berkeley: A Paradigm for Understanding the Catholic Church in China: Is Matteo Ricci, SJ Still a Model?

Fr. Rob's talk in New York City, on March 4, 2016.

The lecture event was hosted by Confucius Institute, Pace University, and among three other panelists, Fr. Rob gave his presentation on "Christianity in China: Past and Present."

A prominent image at the China Church Forum, seen here next to Father Robert E. Carbonneau, C.P. who is the executive director of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau, feautured “120 Martyr Saints of China (1648 - 1930)” by contemporary Taiwanese artist Monica Liu.

A prominent image at the China Church Forum, seen in the photo, next to Father Robert E. Carbonneau, C.P. who is the executive director of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau, feautured “120 Martyr Saints of China (1648 - 1930)” by contemporary Taiwanese artist Monica Liu.

April 11, 2015 Fuyou Board Meeting, Berkeley, CA. 

Fr. Rob attended the meeting of the Inter Friendship House Association (IFHA) on April 11, 2015 at Berkeley, CA. The offices of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau are located in the house owned by the IFHA on 1646 Addison Street. Members of IFHA Board left to right are Left to Right: Agnes Wu, Frank Wu, Fr. Rob, Retired Bishop John Cummins of Oakland, CA, Jeanet Lee, Bo Mi. and Stephanie Wu. (Photograph by Board member Tien-Pao Shih)

In Henry King’s 1945 film, the “Keys of the Kingdom”, the interplay between two cultural forces entertains the question of religious duty. Confounded with childhood tragedy, main character Francis Chrisholm (Gregory Peck) embarks on an unrelenting quest to fulfill a life of priestly devotion through an unexpected missionary trip to China.

At the Holywell College where Father Francis raises questions about aspects of faith, unlike others in his class, a foreshadowing of his unique journey appears. Once he starts his missionary he is faced with several setbacks and determents which he documents in his journey throughout the trip. Even upon his arrival he finds that the Catholic mission has been destroyed and further left in ruins. He is mocked by the Chinese people and left without proper support but preserves without question, symbolizing the humanity of his faith. After the Chinese community begins to see such constant devotion, that without bitterness, they begin to entrust not only in Francis but the idea of Catholicism. Even throughout later judgements and even the beginning of the Chinese Revolution, he never leaves his mission. Francis acts as a selfless Catholic that does not hamper the community with strict biblical rulings; rather, he teaches through service and action.

This depiction of the Catholic leader embraces a graceful approach toward faith in life. The film, at 2 hours and 17 minutes, successfully takes the audience on an in depth journey that embraces the truly ‘human’ spirit of a individual, living simply for others. 

Film critics give credence to the character of Father Francis as a graceful figure of the Catholic message. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote specifically in a 1945 review, that Francis’ intellectual candor and strength clearly reveals ‘his purpose [is] to carry God’s grace in the world’. Crowther conveys that the fundamental conflicts between a German nun (sent to act as a longterm aid at the missionary) and Francis exemplifies even without support the humble man is unstoppable.

 Through each conflicting interaction, his untiring grace illuminates an inspiring tale of the faithful. To Crowther’s dismay however, he finds the film to lack real depth and vitality in its characters. One of the issues he points out is that Hollywood film makers tend to believe religious films need to be ‘long and slow’ to be impressive. There seems to be something more climatic missing from the cinematic journey that Crowther attributes to the script itself.

There is truth to Crowther’s observation in that the media often finds a religious discussion or portrayal to be a touchy subject, therefore leaving out the most vital, controversial  aspects. Ironically, the film’s main character is a symbol of that challenging Catholic, who especially in 1945, raised offense for his accepting nature of the Chinese cultural and  Confucianist beliefs. The audience finds Father Francis to be a impressive, powerful character through more human traits rather than some unrealistic God figure. It gives a positive message that the grace of God is done through simple acts of goodness that often go unrecognized.  (Written by Ashley Thompson)

Remember Chinese Catholics on Palm Sunday

In Chongqing, China 2008 I walked on the street with these Chinese Catholics. When you receive your palms recall the generations of Chinese Catholics in China and throughout the world who still teach us hope. May I also ask you to pray for the intentions of all who support the outreach of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. (By Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Executive Director)    

Ashley Thompson

Ashley is a passionate writer, interested in discussing film, art and photography in relation to Chinese culture. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2013 with a Liberal Arts degree in History and minor in Political Science. Her analytic approach is in retrospect to the Chinese historical timeline. She is currently finishing her year as a Vincentian Volunteer at De Marillac Academy in the Tenderloin of San Francisco. The work she has fulfilled as a Vincentian, has given her a holistic perspective in articulating a view point. She hopes to continue writing and educating the world; Particularly, about the importance of taking a historiographical approach to the development of culture.

Fr. Rob Presented a Paper at AAS Conference in Chicago on March 26-30, 2015

At the Association of Asian Studies meeting, Chicago, IL on March 28. Fr. Rob presented his paper entitled “Beyond The First Glance: Reinterpretation of the Religious and Political Relationships in China through Republican Era Photographs and Archival Sources.” Included was this 1930s photo of five American Passionist priests with local officials from West Hunan, China. Fr. Rob used this and other photos from the Passionist China Collection at the Ricci Institute, University of San Francisco to suggest that in addition to preaching the Gospel, more scholarly attention needs to be paid to everyday experiences in Chinese life and culture.

Other presenters were Margaret Kuo of California State University, Long Beach, CA who spoke on “Broken Bits of China:” Orphan Imagery in the Missionary Imagination.” and Joseph Ho, a Ph.D. candidate from U of Michigan whose topic was “The Field and the Viewfinder: Explorations in Missionary Photography and Modern Chinese History. All three presented as part of a panel entitled “China through a Missionary Lens: Reconstructing Early Twentieth-century Chinese History through Photographic Sources”


Chair/Organizer was Xiaoxin Wu. Ricci Institute, University of San Francisco. Commentators were Martha Smalley, Day Missions Divinity Library, Yale University and Fr. M. Antoni J. Ucerler, S.J. Ricci Institute, University of San Francisco. (Written by Fr. Rob, Pictures taken by Lily)

Fr. Rob goes to Rome for meeting with Archbishop Hon, December 2014

On December 17, 2014 Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P. was granted the opportunity to meet with Archbishop Hon, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  Fr Rob explained the mission of the Bureau in the U.S. was to make American Catholics aware that the Catholic Church in China continues to grow. They spoke about how so many American Catholic religious priests, Sisters and Brothers were sent to China during the 20th century. They discussed the upcoming national conference to be held at Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA on October 9-11, 2015. If you want to attend and register for the conference go to . Please also contact us at (By Fr. Rob)