03/27/2004, 00.00
Italy
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There's hope today for Christianity in Chinese culture

Milan (AsiaNews) – Today the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in cooperation with Milan's Diocesan Office for Pastoral Missionary Activity has organized a conference on China and Christianity, as part of the "Chinese Paths" program. The program aims at deepening awareness on China in Italy through meetings and gatherings with the help of scholars, experts and missionaries.

Today's conference will discuss in general the meetings and clashes the Christian faith has had with Chinese culture, both from a thematic and chronological perspective. The main thread of discussion will be the impact Christianity has had on China –from the first time it entered the country until today's revival thanks to intellectuals and their distrust of the new Chinese government.  

This morning speakers will focus on the roots of Christian missionary activities and the teaching of the Christian message in China, a country whose first experience of the faith is engraved on the 7th  Nestorian stone discovered near Xi'an. The stone's inscription will be explained by sinologist and member of the Bose Community, Matteo Nicolini-Zani.

Fr. Gianni Criveller, a PIME missionary in Hong Kong, will analyze far-reaching openness to Chinese culture as seen in work of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary of the 16th century. Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, s.j. will speak on Christian art in Chinese as means of teaching the faith.  

During the second half of the conference in the afternoon various speakers will focus on issues related to the current status of Christianity in China, in terms of targets reached and challenges that lay ahead.

Fr. Angelo Lazzarotto, PIME will speak on the government's contradictory religious polices, on those of a rule that still fits Marxist stereotypes with rigid controls imposed on Church activities. In addition, Theresa Xiao Enhui, a Chinese author, will talk about the new wave of interest in Christianity, despite the government's attempt to put the breaks on such enthusiasm and curiosity. Fr. Giancarlo Politi, PIME will discuss the communion of Chinese Catholics with Rome and how this is related to encouraging steps made toward overcoming a major division felt between Chinese "underground" Catholics and those of the government-authorized Patriotic Church.

The conference will take place at PIME's Milan headquarters. (MR)

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