Catholic Bishop, People’s Republic of China
Mr. Chairman and representatives :
From China to Munich, I am very pleased to join this great meeting with all of you. Due to the rapid fast development on science and technology in current time, it is a such easy thing for us to travel from the east to the west. It reminds me to think about the Silk Road across Asia and Europe which has been established two thousand years ago. At that time, it was also a route of friendship to communicate between the East and the West cultures. Today, since the transportation around the world is so convenient, we begin to talk about the integration of Globalization. The global we are living now is getting smaller, in a Chinese word: "afar distance is near as a neighborhood". Therefore, from political, cultural, religious and economic aspects, people are now emphasizing on dialogue and communication. That is
also a big issue for us to consider as Chinese: how can we build up a New Silk Road under the circumstances, which calls on us to give up our self-centeredness and be more open to the others, to cooperate, to support each other, and to develop together.
I. From Jerusalem to Gaza
"Silk Road" as a metaphor I use means that one has to walk from oneself toward the others. "Road" (or Tao) has very profound meanings either in biblical and theological aspect of Christianity or in Tao's culture in Chinese tradition. According to Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit showed Philip the road that led him from Jerusalem down to Gaza (Acts 8: 26). It also means that all the Apostles have to carry out the mission of preaching the Gospel from Jews to all the nations on the earth. Since then, an Asian version bible has been read and circulated around the world. The spread of Christian Faith is also a way of walking into different cultures. There have been many collisions but also integrations between faith and culture, and finally it has
been rooting, growing, and producing on cultural basis of every nation.
The Road means connection, communication, mutual accepting and self-opening. On the road of opening we are able to break through the limitation and fence between the nations, and it allows us to walk from ourselves to the others. Through different ways of communication, our hearts will get closer. However, there have been a lot of wars, violence and killings on the development of our human history and even in today's society. The history of conflict and violence caused by blocking oneself out and over self-protection has left scar which has hurt our heart deeply, especially after "9. 11" all religions and groups have to reflect on ourselves: Are we the peacemakers or pushers of violence? Are we on the road of self-opening or forcing the others to take our own values?
II. From Nan Chang to Munich
Nan Chang is a city which has a long history and cultural
heritage. It is also a very famous historical place of Catholic missions in China. In 1595, a great missionary-Fr. Matthew Ricci came to Nan Chang from Italy. To sum up his experience of mission in China, he wrote a book called "Essay of Friendship" in Chinese. This article has been a tool for him to dialogue with Confucianist scholars and political intellectuals of Nan Chang. It has established a true communication and dialogue between the East and the West. It also became a perfect example of dialogue which is still esteemed by today's Chinese intellectuals. The example of Matthew Ricci has told us that every culture has its own advantage and positive aspect. He is good on combining of the quintessence of Chinese culture and Christianity. Because there is no a such culture which could exist by its own, there is always a mutual influence between different civilizations and cultures in the development of human history, and on that process the different people started to know and understand each other and grow up together.
Today, Nan Chang has become a city full of vigour.
Following the high-speed development of economy, a great number of migrants from rural area into the city of Nan Chang, it became a place of multiculture and co-existence of different religions. There are many different religious traditions such as Islam, Christianity, Taoism and Buddhism, and 43 minority ethnic groups moving into Nan Chang following the economic development. They has been living with Han people (the majority of the society) harmoniously and getting involved in attending and discussing political and social affairs. However, Nan Chang as a large city has same problems with other modern cities around the world: ageing of population, generation gap, disparity of education and between the rich and the poor, and so on. The Catholic Church in China has already actively devoted to social service, to help the poor and social minority groups, and in order to carry out "the social role" and "the prophetic role" of the Church, we have helped to build "Hope primary school", to take care of the homeless people, to assisted those who are suffered in earthquake , flood and all other natural disasters, and to join the work for preventing AIDS and serving the
lepers and other public welfare undertaking. The essential foundation of a harmonious society is to walk with the minority people and serve the poor. Of late twenty years, the Catholic Church including laity, parish and diocese has made great contribution to the local society through many charity works, and been admired by local government and the public. For serving the poor you have to give up yourselves and show solicitude for "the least of your brothers", that also means the responsibilities and obligation to one another through the dialogue between civilizations, religions and cultures. Hopefully, I will learn those precious experiences from the Community of St. Egidio and the Church of Germany during my staying at Munich.
III. From local to universal
The Second Council of Vatican has emphasized on catholicity and universality of the Church, and at the same time it has also pushed forward inculturation of the Church. The inculturation of the Church in China has gone through many rough journey. Until now, the way
and spirit of Matthew Ricci has still been admired by many. So, the Church would not loss her universality by respecting the Chinese culture and considering the true circumstances in China. In fact, the Catholic Church in Nan Chang has undergone a development that has never happened in its history. Along with the city economic development, the life style of people has been changed greatly, especially time of network of globalization which helped people could enjoy opportunity of equal communicating and of sharing resources. At the same time, it has also changed the way of pastoral work quietly in the Church. "Structuring harmonious society" is theme of today's China. The Church is indispensible part on the level of building moral and ethical society and social service. It seem to us there would be a New Silk Road of coexist and dialogue among different people and religions by developing the Church through walking out of self, serving the society, and dialoguing with different faiths.
Under the influence of their own cultures, the people of Nan Chang and as well as Asian people have a universal
spiritualism and veneration of god. They have excellent sensitivity to the nature: the harmony of Yin and Yang; connection between reality and emptiness; knowledge of happiness and sadness; insight of living and death. All of these could help them to understand the mystery of the holy cross more profoundly. There is "an innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul, and it is the core around which a growing sense of 'being Asian' is built. This 'being Asian' is best discovered and affirmed not in confrontation and opposition, but in the spirit of complementarity and harmony. In this framework of complementarity and harmony, the Church can communicate the Gospel in a way which is faithful both to her own Tradition and to the Asian soul. " (Ecclesia in Asia 6 by previous Pope John Paul II November 6, 1999 )
Zen of Buddhism points out that a wise person has a "Third Eye". I think this Third Eye is not only using on the study of religious doctrines and exercises of faith, but for those like the people present in this meeting, who are devoting their lives in the dialogue between
different religions and cultures and the peace of the world, you are wise people who use the Third Eye looking at things.
Thank you very much!