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from issue no. 06/07 - 2007

The secret of the success in the Celestial Empire of the Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci

He was not a stranger

by Giulio Andreotti

Matteo Ricci (1552-1610)

Matteo Ricci (1552-1610)

I began to get interested in China – apart from what school taught me – in the programs of the Students Missionary League and in going to missionary conferences, aimed not just at fund raising.
Later the opposition between the “People’s” China and the more or less conservative one became important. Unfortunately the political features got the upper hand, and in the meetings with Monsignor Yu Pin the most political aspects ended up by prevailing.
Later I was to have frequent occasions for getting to know the depth of that people both through the extraordinary quality of the questions posed by students from their universities during meetings that were elsewhere barren and formal and in conversation with figures passing through Rome or participating, elsewhere, in meetings of the Inter-parliamentary Union.
Another spur to learning more was studying the character of Matteo Ricci who is venerated in China as one of the Fathers of the Homeland. That was indeed my first approach when they scheduled for me – who was there on a political mission – a visit to the tomb of the Jesuit, so historically important.
The secret of his success lay, I believe, in his long training. He devoted many years to studying the language, the customs, the history. So that when he began his apostolate, he was not a stranger.

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