VATICAN - In the footsteps of Matteo Ricci, “a Jesuit in the Kingdom of the Dragon”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – The reflections of Archbishop Celli, quotes from the Pope's message by Bishop Giuliodori, the dreams of Fr. Lombardi, the work of the Chinese Ambassador in the footsteps of Matteo Ricci were all featured in the presentation of “Matteo Ricci: A Jesuit in the Kingdom of the Dragon,” a documentary on the life of the great Jesuit missionary, by Gjon Kolndrekaj. The presentation took place on the evening of June 18, in the presence of Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Archbishop Robert Sarah, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia; Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office; Mr. Sun Yu Xi, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Italy; Mr. Zhang Jian Da, Cultural Councilor for the Embassy, who played an important role in collaborating with the making of the film. There were also several Jesuits present from the world of communications and others from the world of culture, for the showing of this work sponsored by the General Curia of the Company of Jesus and the Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia and promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in collaboration with the cultural and academic world of the People's Republic of China.

During his opening speech, Archbishop Celli recalled his first trip to China, visiting the tomb of the great Fr. Li Ma Dou (Fr. Matteo Ricci's Chinese name) and other Jesuits who gave their lives in that faraway land of the East, for the Lord's mission, underlining the present significance of this “great bridge.” Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said that as a Jesuit speaking on behalf of all his brothers of the community, he would share two of his great dreams: see the Beatification of Fr. Matteo Ricci and the first Chinese Prime Minister to convert to Catholicism, Paul Xu, and that the Jesuits today would continue the path begun by Fr. Matteo... “This is a certainty,” he said. Bishop Guiliodori, promotor of the great celebration for the 400th anniversary of Fr. Matteo's death, highlighted the importance of science in the cultural change, quoting the Holy Father's message from May 6, 2009: “I am therefore greatly pleased to join all those who recall this generous son of your land, obedient minister of the Church, and intrepid and intelligent messenger of the Gospel of Christ. Considering his intense scientific and spiritual work, we are positively amazed by the innovative and unique capacity he had in bringing together Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions in conjunction. That was in fact the characteristic aspect of his mission to find possible harmony between the ancient and noble Chinese civilization and the newness of Christianity, which leads to freedom and true renewal within every society, as the Gospel is the universal message of salvation to the whole world, regardless of their cultural or religious context.”
In his brief and intense talk, Mr. Sun Yu Xi, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Italy, highlighted the popularity of Fr. Matteo Ricci, from his own experience: “the first time I heard his name, I was studying as a child.” He also confirmed that “China is working towards the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican.” Thus, the figure of Fr. Matteo Ricci is truly more important today than ever. In addition, at the Shanghai Expo 2010, there will be various projects dedicated to the great Jesuit missionary, Fr. Matteo Ricci. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 19/06/2009)