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News from the USCCA and the church in China

“The Church in China: Notes for ‘Writing the Future.’”

9 March 2024,

Summary authored by Kathy Stout, Ph.D. in Theology and adjunct professor, The University of Dayton

In our second meeting, the Book Circle discussed Fr. Arturo Sosa’s 2019 article, “The Church in China: Notes for ‘Writing the Future.’”

Fr. Sosa’s forward-looking vision inspired a wonderful conversation on three topics: the inculturation of the Gospel, the urbanization of the Chinese Catholic church, and the complexity of Sinicizing Christianity.

We were fortunate to have a diverse number of participants who brought their unique perspectives to the discussion. We were incredibly grateful to have someone attending from a mainland China location who shared first-hand experience on the growth and vitality of the local churches there and a few professional theologians.

All participants appreciated Fr. Sosa’s definition of inculturation as “following the kenotic incarnation of Jesus,” which requires a radical degree of humility from the church. On the complexity of Sinicizing the Gospel, we came to recognize it as a complex, dynamic, and open-ended process evolving on many levels, including philosophical, cultural, and social.

On the needs of the Chinese church, one participant reminds us that more than anything, young people today are looking for friendship and solidarity in the community. 

Below are a few more highlights of the discussion:

  • The church’s mission is to stand under the cross of Jesus Christ in solidarity with the Chinese.

  • Together, we discover more and move closer to the kingdom of God.

  • How can the church provide a sense of community to the young people in China today? 

Again, welcome to the 2024 USCCA Book Circle.

Mary Sluka, USCCA Board Member 

Fr. Hugh O'Donnell, C.M., USCCA Board Member

Kathy Stout, Ph.D. in Theology and adjunct professor, The University of Dayton, “The Art of Dialogue and Proclamation: A Case Study with John C. H. Wu (1899-1986)”


P.S. We recommend Walking with Ignatius by Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa.

  • Walking with Ignatius introduces the reader to Fr. Arturo Sosa, elected Superior General of the Society of Jesus in 2016. This book opens the "Ignatian Year" and marks the 500th anniversary of the wound that led to the conversion of St. Ignatius Loyola. Along with his observations on the Society of Jesus, the Church, and the world today--while emphasizing the Universal Apostolic Preferences--Fr. Sosa offers suggestions for reflection and prayer alone or in a community. In his words, the reader is invited "to grow, starting in the exact place you find yourself, guided by the Lord, and advancing step-by-step...and [to] become a pilgrim yourself so that you may walk the path of Christian adventure in our changing world.

  • Written in collaboration with the journalist Darío Menor, Walking with Ignatius is based on his weekly interviews with Fr. Sosa over two and a half months.

P.P.S. You might also enjoy "The Culture of Encounter: An Imperative for a Divided World," Keynote Address by Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., an hour-long keynote address that Fr. Sosa delivered at Georgetown University.


APRIL AND MAY 2024 Book Circles

If you know anyone who might be interested in the Book Circle, please direct them to the sign-up form.

  • April 20, 2024 (see below for next month's reading)

    • 10:00 p.m. Chinese time

    • 10:00 a.m. Eastern / 9:00 a.m. Central / 8:00 a.m. Mountain / 7:00 a.m. Pacific.

  • May 11, 2024

    • 10:00 p.m. Chinese time

    • 10:00 a.m. Eastern / 9:00 a.m. Central / 8:00 a.m. Mountain / 7:00 a.m. Pacific.

The Book Circles are virtual conversations; an email will be sent to all who RSVP several days in advance of the scheduled event.



  • For April, we will read an essay written by the American comparative theologian Bede Bidlack, "Merton's Way of Zhuangzi: A Critique." Merton's book The Way of Zhuangzi, published in 1965, is a great introduction to the Chinese philosopher for English-speaking readers. Since we have been thinking about Christianity's dialogue with Chinese culture, Merton's interpretation of Zhuangzi provides a good opportunity to see some dialogue in action. Merton believed that Chinese philosophy could benefit Christians living in the West. Bidlack's article will help us understand why that might be the case.

  • As you read the article, please reflect on the following questions:

1. Bede Bidlack states that postmodern scholarship has abandoned the missionary distinction between Christian miracles/faith and pagan superstition/beliefs (87-88). How significant is this change for the future of the Chinese church?

2. Bidlack mentions Merton’s dissatisfaction with monastic life and Western modernity in the 1950s-1960s. Besides Merton, many others in the West became attracted to Eastern wisdom during this period. Why do you think this was the case?

3. After reading Merton’s translation of the story, Cook Ding, can you reflect on the relationship between craftsmanship, art, spirituality, and contemplation? 


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