The Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits) has long played an important role in the history of religious, intellectual, and cultural exchange between China and the West. The most famous missionary to China, Matteo Ricci, has been called both the “father of the China mission” and the “founder of Sino-Western relations.” Meanwhile, no one in our present time has appeared more often in media reports about the situation of China’s Christian population than Pope Francis, who signed the Vatican’s first official agreement with China’s government since it became a communist state in 1949. Though centuries apart, both Ricci and Francis are Jesuits who represent an astonishing continuity in how the Society of Jesus has theoretically and operationally actualized its religious and diplomatic mission regarding China. In his reflections, Dr. Anthony Clark examined how Jesuits have maintained Christian dialogue with China from 1582 until the present. As representatives of this uniquely Jesuit approach, Matteo Ricci and Pope Francis frame that exchange.
About Dr. anthony clark
Anthony E. Clark is the Edward B. Lindaman Endowed Chair at Whitworth University, the Distinguished Combe Trust Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London. He is the author and editor of eleven books on the history of China and Sino-Christian exchange of which his latest is: A Chinese Jesuit Catechism: Giulio Aleni’s Seventeenth-Century Four Character Classic. He has published hundreds of scholarly book chapters and journal articles, and he has organized and hosted a number of academic gatherings on diverse topics. Clark is presently preparing a book on Jesuit drama in China and a co-authored study of Catholic missionary photography during the late Qing and Republican eras.