.- The Holy Father remembered the legacy of Jesuit missionary Fr. Matteo Ricci and his "great Chinese friends" on Saturday. The Pope said he is "convinced" that a "renewed encounter with Christianity" will be fruitful in China as Ricci’s mission was.
On Saturday, the Holy Father met with a group of 8,000 Italian pilgrims celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of the Italian missionary. Fr. Ricci, who brought the Gospel as far as China's Imperial Palace, also introduced China to Western culture and science and became known to the Chinese as the "Maestro of the Great West."
Referring to the Jesuit as a "singular case" among missionaries in the history of the Church for his capacity to proclaim the Gospel and promote dialogue between cultures, the Holy Father called the era of Fr. Ricci and his disciples "one of the highest and happiest points in relations between China and the West."
However, added Benedict XVI, it is important to note that in addition to introducing scientific advancements, Fr. Ricci brought a humanist perspective "cultivated by moral and spiritual values, taking everything positive found in the Chinese tradition and offering to enrich it with the contribution of Western culture but, above all, with the wisdom and truth of Christ."
The contributions of "great Chinese friends" and disciples was essential to the fulfilment of the Jesuit priest's mission, said Pope Benedict, who described their loyalty to Christ, their “profound” love towards the Chinese people, their commitment of intelligence and learning and their virtuous life as “occasions of prayer for the Church in China and for the entire Chinese people."
They provide a "stimulus and encouragement to live the Christian faith with intensity, in dialogue with different cultures, but in the certainty that in Christ true humanism is realized, (which is) open to God, rich in moral and spiritual values and capable of responding to the deepest longings of the human soul."
He closed the audience by expressing his esteem for "the noble Chinese people and their millenary culture," saying also that he is "convinced that their renewed encounter with Christianity will bring abundant fruits of good."
The city of Macerata, Italy, which is within the Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia which organized the pilgrimage, is the birthplace of Fr. Ricci.