ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)

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Mary Queen of China Our Lady of Sheshan

Last Sunday, Pope Francis at the prayer of Queen Coeli, asked to join the prayer of Chinese Catholics, on the feast day of May 24, the World Prayer Day for the Church in China instituted by Pope Benedict XVI.

In the Sheshan Chinese Shrine, where the Virgin Mary “Help of Christians” is highly revered by Catholics in China, Mary presents her Son to the world with her arms wide open in a gesture of love and mercy. Love and mercy are the main roads where the gospel walks and incarnates in the great Chinese world.

Each year in the sanctuary thousands of Chinese pray especially at the feast of Our Lady of Sheshan, who is also the patron saint of China. Pope Benedict XVI wrote the prayer to the Virgin of Sheshan, entrusting her all over China and the church in China. Benedict XVI had entrusted in the letter to the bishops, the priests to consecrated persons, and to the lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China, requesting that the day of the liturgical memory of Our Lady of Sheshan on 24 May become a worldwide day of proximity and prayer for the Church in China.

The church dedicated to the Virgin was built in the 19th century and is located on top of a hill just a few kilometers southwest of Shanghai. The devotion to Mary in China has always been and still is today a determining factor of unity in the church.

We ask, in this Easter time, at the thresholds of Pentecost, to the Spirit to break forth once again in the beloved China Church. The Spirit calls us to an original and always new identity to which we must leavewith confidence. The Spirit tells us that Jesus Christ is not a guardian of a fortress, He is not a reference point of the past, He is not the stool of any egotism, even ecclesial, but is the guarantee for the future.

We know that even in the church in China, there is no future without memory. Our memory, however, can no longer be made by professions of faith proclaimed with the sword in hand, with the tendency to excommunicate others who do not think as us.

The unity of the Church in China cannot be done in accordance with a criterion of selfishness and with the desire to raise other barriers, widening further the “Jericho moat”. It has to be done with the help of the Spirit and with the prayer with Mary. The language of Christianity is a universal language; it is a language of unity and not of uniformity; The Spirit teach us to speak this universal language, even in the great Chinese nation


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La Settimana Santa e Pasqua in una comunità della Cina

Riceviamo e pubblichiamo una testimonianza su come ha vissuto il Venerdì Santo e la Veglia di Pasqua una comunità cattolica nella provincia dell’Hubei. Ci scrive il sacerdote don Paolo Zhang, che con gioia ci comunica che durante la Veglia sono stati celebrati quattro battesimi. Rimaniamo in unione di preghiera con gli amati fratelli della Chiesa in Cina, cui siamo grati per la testimonianza di fede e di vita. 
We receive and post a witness about a Catholic community in Chinese Hubei province. The photos were sent to us by fr. Paolo Zhang, who presided the liturgical celebration of the Good Friday and the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night, during which four baptisms were celebrated. We are most grateful to our dearest brothers and sisters of the Church in China for their witness of faith and life.
Foto: P. Zhang/ConAltriOcchi


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Pope Francis and China

Theresa Xiao
In the Far East and in various parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the lunar new year. I wish that all may experience peace and serenity in the heart of their families.” With these words Pope Francis addressed his wishes to Chinese and East Asian people during the  Angelus prayer, a few days after the publication of the interview for AsiaTimes ( , which focused completely on China. The Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival is one of the most important and popular festivities in East and South-East Asia – we prefer these denominations having a less Eurocentric connotation -, primarily in China. To the interviewer – finally a sinologist who knows well ancient and contemporary China – Francis speaks of the “Middle Kingdom” with words of admiration, as a “great country” with a “great culture” and an ” inexhaustible wisdom”, a nation that has “a lot to offer the world.”

In the footsteps of his immediate predecessors, Pope Francis shows great attention towards China. What primarily distinguishes him from the other popes, however,  is the fact of being a Jesuit and a Latin American. This definitely constitutes a “comparative advantage” that may help to have a greater margin of action in the long and thorny “Chinese issue”. Certainly, China associates the Jesuits with the idea of dialogue, openness, science, culture – embodied in a paradigmatic way in the great missionary Matteo Ricci, in Chinese Li Madou利玛窦. The fact that Pope Francis is not from the West of the colonial powers (which even today recall a very sad page of the Chinese history, a disgrace, an open wound) makes him appear to the Chinese people in a different way compared to his predecessors. Colonial powers which foreign missionaries often associated themselves to, in the eyes of the Chinese people. Contributing to this idea that persists even today, that Christianity cannot be anything but a foreign religion of the ” imperialist West.” There was a saying in the past: “One more Catholic, one less Chinese”, that was to emphasize the alien nature, almost an “incompatibility” between China and Christianity, at least in the Chinese imaginary.
Francis has undertaken with caution, but it seems with determination, the path of reconciliation and dialogue with China. Of course taking the important steps of his predecessors, especially the Letter to Chinese Catholics, which was perhaps conceived under the pontificate of John Paul II and realized by Benedict XVI. But softening  the tone and leaving less room for voices undoubtedly authoritative, as monopolistic, that especially in recent years have only ever denounced the dark side of China. Certain tones, certain insistence, and certain ways to represent China by some who have risked to almost appear as “doomsayers” are not in line with the Church of Francis; a Church of dialogue, mutual respect, and mercy. The Church that looks at and works on “what unites rather than what divides.” The Church of the Second Vatican Council, which in the XXI century cannot continue to “bypass” China (often labeled with images that seem old from 50-60 years ago) and relate to China only through  sentences and even excommunications, which have humiliated and hurt Chinese Catholics. The Great China of an ancient civilization, the China of Confucius, who lived 500 years before Christ and was a great teacher of moral and social harmony. China that generated the depth of thought, then evolved into a religious spirituality, of Daoism, characterised by a creative vitality. That China that received Buddhism from India, re-shaping it and mixing it with its own philosophical and religious traditions in a mutual enrichment. And in the modern era, China that first among the devoloping countries achieved the Millennium Development Goals and in the years 1990-2005 took out of extreme poverty over 470 million people. A concrete example to the world that poverty can be defeated if there is a political will. An achievement that the pope that  took the name of Saint Francis of Assisi certainly has not overlooked – unlike so many, religious people, journalists and commentators in various capacities. Because Francis can count on very close people who know and understand China and are in line with him with respect to what strategy should be followed.  Certainly the strategy of prudence and patience, but that does not mean closure and unwillingness to dialogue in order to find a compromise. Words that many do not like, those who do not see many realities, small and large, where mediation is the only way to move forward. Those that may also not know that the “middle way” is also a value of Chinese culture – the Doctrine of the Mean is one of the Four Books included among the Confucian Classics. The Chinese culture emphasizes harmony tending to seek it, to see it, even where there are opposites that in the Western view are irreducible. And often giving much attention to the form, the “ritual.”
For the Church that “goes forth” as indicated by Francis, this can be a great opportunity to capitalize on the dialogue. With a sincere respect for who has been and is now the counterpart, combined with a deep and pragmatic awareness. China,  a “great country” that has made great achievements in socio-economic development and acquired an important place on the international stage. Not without “side effects” – i.e., the environmental issue, the sustainability of a development process that has been as radical as perhaps too fast, the growing social inequalities, the challenges associated with impressive internal migration, an aging population …. Not to mention the consumerism and the galloping materialism which are eroding family relationships and social relations, corrupting traditional values and jeopardizing the future of the younger generation. Problems that China itself has learned to recognize and now seeks to address.
Even Pope Francis shows once again to know all this. It is part of human history, the history of peoples, to pass “through lights and shadows” and a reconciliation is also needed with its own history, its past, says the Pope to China in the interview, but he also says that to all of us and to all Nations. The Church in China also deeply needs for reconciliation. The Church in China too (which is often represented with clichés, in a simplistic way and by whom he has never known it directly), has kept the faith in very difficult times. The whole Church, not only one side. A gift, a grace that is certainly the inspiration, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
We are sure and we pray that Pope Francis did not drop all this but values it, builds on it, brings it to completion, without lingering on entrenched positions. There is need to look and go further, to ensure that the Chinese Church is more and respectfully accompanied by the universal Church to better address new challenges – the same facing the Church (more generally the society) of the “Western world”, before it is too late. Secularism, the worldliness, careerism and materialism, individualism, which also invest Christians and may question their existential choices, undermining their witness of faith. And more intra ecclesia the problem of the formation (cultural, theological and spiritual) of the clergy and religious, lay participation and more generally the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, the role and the witness of Christians in society and in the world of culture , the proclamation of the Gospel in a context where Christians are a minority and where increasing prosperity begins to make more difficult among young people make radical lifestyle choices and of total donation to the Church ……
It is time to break down “old” walls of “enmity”, find points of convergence in the common values that can contribute so much to the construction of world peace, and also support the Chinese Church to become, with more prophecy, a Church that truly goes forth, as Pope Francis has been preaching tirelessly since the beginning of his pontificate.

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Isn’t it great to have friends come from far away?

Personal reflection on the interview about China and the Chinese People with Pope Francis
Rob Rizzo SJ

In entering into relation with another there is always the possibility of making mistakes while getting to know them, but I believe the biggest mistake would be to presume that we fully know the other and thus seal them within that definition.

I don’t have the pretention to think that I know what Pope Francis was thinking, but what he said about ‘the cake’ struck me. In this I saw an opening up, so as to not take ones own cultural background as a given, but to accept that the other may understand the very same thing differently due to different cultural backgrounds. Therefore this allows for dialogue and even gives space for interest and curiosity of one another to grow.

The possibility of making mistakes remains of course but should this scare or discourage us? I don’t think so, clearly the importance of acknowledging and evaluating the dangers remains however this should not discourage us from reaching out to one another. It is so freeing to hear that our (and my) past mistakes don’t mean that it’s all over. Rather than regretting the past and holding onto it, allowing it to keep me stuck in the past there is the opportunity to acknowledge it, learn from it and decide to walk towards a hopeful and realistic future. I love the image he used of water that keeps pure because it flows ahead, does it mean that the water has an easy and open stream ahead of it? I don’t think so, but the water as it flows downstream will naturally find even the smallest space to pass from, and as it goes along it is also purified passing through the rocks.

So what did I personally receive from Pope Francis’ interview? Hope, for dialogue, for learning and for resilience as this river flows.