The Original Western Confucian and Pope Ratzinger
Sandro Magister finds a "remarkable resemblance between the missionary method of Matteo Ricci in seventeenth-century China and the dialogue between Christianity and cultures proposed today by Benedict XVI" — A Ratzinger from Four Centuries Ago. In Beijing. An excerpt:
- In dialoguing with the intellectual circles of Beijing at the time, Ricci adopted an approach remarkably similar to the one proposed by Benedict XVI today. He knew very well that the Christian Gospel was an absolute innovation, come from God. But he knew that human reason also has its origin in the one Lord of Heaven, and is common to all who live under the same sky.
He was therefore confident that the Chinese could also accept "the things of our holy faith," if these were "confirmed by much evidence of reason."
His proclamation of the Christian news was therefore gradual. He took his cues from the philosophical principles of Confucianism, from the traits it had in common with the Christian vision of God and of the world, in order to build gradually to the absolute novelty of the Son of God made man in Jesus.
Matteo Ricci did not do the same thing with Buddhism and Taoism, instead subjecting them to severe criticism. A little like the Fathers of the Church had done before him, being extremely critical of pagan religion but in respectful dialogue with the wisdom of the philosophers.