Full Text for Christian Missions in China Before Morrison, part 2 (Text)

410 Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. 2. The Late Medieval Mission under John de Monte Corvino. The next entrance of Ohristianity into Ohina came six and a half centuries after the beginning of the N estorian missions, when the great Mongolian Empire had been established, when the Roman Papacy was in the height of its power, and when, as a result of the crusades, the interest of Western Europe in the East was still very much alive. Two Italian merchants, Maffeo and Nicolo Polo, succeeded in reaching Ohina in 1260, getting as far as the court of Khubilai. They were requested by him to return to the Pope, "ask­ing that a hundred teachers of science and religion be sent to instruct the Chinese in the learning and faith of Europe." The Dominican friars who were ordered by the Pope to accompany the Polos on their second journey to the East in 1271 (it was on this trip that Marco, the son of Nicolo, went along) were frightened off by war and turned back. The Polos, however, reached the court of Khubilai safely, and Marco Polo entered his service. -When the rumor came back to Europe that Khubilai had been baptized, the Pope sent a party of :five Franciscans to Ohina; but these also failed to l"each theil" destination. The :fil"st cleric who successfully made the long and trying journey at this time was the Italian Franciscan fl"iar John de :l'ilonte Oorvino, sent as missionary into the East in 1289. He was accompanied by Nicholas of Pistoia, a Dominican, and a mel"chant. Fl"iar Nicholas died on the way, in India, and John went on alone with the merchant. He arrived in 1294, not long after the death of Khubilai. According to his own account, the Fl"anciscan fl"iar won the favor of the imperial court at Cambaluc (Peking) despite the oppo­sition of the N estorians, in the course of time acquired a "com­petent knowledge of the language and character which is most gen­erally in use among the Tatars," and trans1ated the New Testament and the Psalter. By 1300 he had built a church ncar the imperial palace, with a bell-tower and three bells. By 1305 he had "baptized about six thousand converts; he had bought a hundred and fifty young boys of pagan parents, had bap­tized them, had taught them Greek and Latin, and had written out for them psalters, thirty hymn aries, and two breviaries." The work progressed favorably. He reports "that he had a place at the emperor's court, a regular seat assigned him as representative of the Pope, and that the emperor honored him ahove the priests of all other faiths. The bounty of the emperor seems to have supplied the :financial support of the work, at least to a large extent. When the report of John's success reached Rome, it created a sensation. The Pope rewarded him with the Archbishopric of Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. 411 Oambaluc .. A number of other Franciscan friars were sent to. Ohina to assist him, but only three succeeded in reaching Oambaluc; a number of others, however, followed later. A letter dated 1318 states that at that time Archbishop John and two bishops resided at Oambaluc and in Zaitun Bishop Peregrine and three brothers. John de Monte Oorvino died between 1328 and 1333. He had spent about thirty years in Ohina and had, almost single-handed, planted the Ohristian religion in that far-off land. After his death the work was carried on by others, prominent among whom was John of Marignolli, until the collapse of the Mongol Empire. With the establishment of the native Ohinese Ming dynasty in 1368 an antiforeign reaction set in, and the Ohristian religion rapidly dis­appeared from the Ohinese horizon in spite of the efforts to keep it alive. 3. Roman Catholic Missions in China after the Reformation. The missiDns Df the Roman OathDlic Ohurch in the East after the RefDrmatiDn fDllDwed Dn the heels Df the PDrtuguese navigators and the settlements established by them. Ohina, being hostile to. all fDreigners, did nDt ShDW much prDmise Df becDming a fruitful mis­sio.nary field. The intrepid Francis Xavier, who. had, measured by the standards Df that age, achieved amazing success in Dther fields, made elabDrate plans to. fDund a missiDn in Ohina, but died befDre they cDuld be carried o.ut (1552). Augustinians, DDminicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits traveled eastward to Macao., the PDrtuguese o.UtpDSt in Ohina, and to Manila, the Spanish center o.f activity in the Philippines, hDping to. use these cities as bases fDr missio.nary activity in Ohina and Japan. ThDugh a few Ohinese CDnverts seem to have been WDn, the effDrts as a whDle were witho.ut permanent results, until Valignani, the Jesuit Visito.r to. the Indies, arranged to. have Father Ruggerius, an Italian Jesuit, sent to. Ohina. He made several visits, about the year 1580, to. Oanton, the Dnly Ohinese pDrt thrDugh which the Westerners were permitted to trade. The Jesuits who. made commDn cause with the PDrtuguese were the Dnly Drder given papal sanctiDn at this time to. wDrk in Ohina. In 1583 Matteo. Ricci came to assist Ruggerius. OhaDch'ing, then the capital Df Kwang-tung, became their headquarters fDr a time. Dressed in the garb Df Buddhist priests, they prDceeded, in accDrd with the Jesuit policy initiated by LoYDla, to. win the gDDd will of the educated Ohinese by means Df their scientific attainments and the demDnstratiDn Df EurDpean inventiDns, such as clDcks, which were new to. the Orientals. AmDng Dther things "Ricci prepared a map Df the wDrld which shDwed the IDcatio.n Df the cDuntries of EurDpe, but discreetly put Ohina in the center and pictured the rest o.f the earth as decDrative fringes." (Latourette) Ruggerius in 1588 went 412 Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. back to Europe to strengthen the position of the missionaries by arranging for an embassy. He died before he could return. When the missionaries found later that the Buddhist monks were not greatly respected, Ricci and his colleagues changed their dress to that worn by the Ohinese scholars. Ricci succeeded in reaching Nanking by 1599, but opposition to the work was so strong that little progress was made until the conversion of a prominent Ohinese official, called by the Jesuits Paul Hsu, and his daughter Oandida. Their assistance and prestige helped to open doors hitherto closed against Ohristianity. In 1601 Ricci was able to establish himself in Peking, where a house was assigned to him and he was given a stipend from the imperial treasury. By 1605 the Peking congregation numbered two hundred souls, including several high officials and an imperial prince. By 1610, the year of Ricci's death, a foothold was obtained a180 in Shanghai. Latourette's estimate of Ricci'R work is given in these words: "To him, probably more than to any other one man, was due that attempt to adj list the Ohristian faith to its Ohinese environment, which was later to bring about the famous rites controversy. He apparently saw that, if Ohristianity was ever to have any large place in Ohina, either the culture and institutions of the country must be modified or the Ohurch must in part adjust its teachings and practises to Ohinese life. Since the former alternative seemed, at the time, impossible, he chose the latter. Measured by his ability and achieve­ments, Ricci is undoubtedly one of the greatest missionaries whom the Ohurch has had in China." :Meanwhile the other Roman Oatholic orders were anxious to work in Ohina also and various unsuccessful attempts were made by the Franciscans and Dominicans, who were under the protection of Spain and had to travel to China by way of Spain, Mexico, and the Philip­pines; but a mission on the mainland of Ohina was not established until about 1630. The J c,suits, however, carried their work forward. AJter Ricci's death, they received ofilcial recognition and were given charge of revising the Chinese calendar. In spite of opposition, and even perse­cution, they maintained themselves and by 1628 had founded an outpost as far west as Hsian-fu, at which time the discovery of the N estorian stone was made. Just before the coming of the Manchus, who were to overthrow the Ming dynasty, John Adam Schall became the leader of the Jesuit work at Peking. The war between the Manchus and Mings did not retard the mission-work, as the Jesuits were able to befriend both sides. When the Manchu emperor Shun Ohih occupied Peking, he gave Schall official rank and "presented him with a site and a sum of money for a house and a church." Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. 413 The estimates as to the number of Ohristians in Ohina at this time vary. One gives 13,000 in 1627 and claims an increase to 40,000 by 1637; another gives 1:3,000 in 1617, 150,000 in 1650, and 254,980 in 1664. The provinces occupied were Kiangsi, Ohekiang, Kiangnan, Shantung, Shansi, Shensi, and Ohihli. With the death of the friendly Manchu emperor Shun Ohih the fortunes of the Jesuits met a change. During the minority of the new emperor, K'ang Hsi, regents unfriendly to the Fathers were in power. A persecution arose in 1664. Schall and others were im­prisoned. Schall's death sentence was not carried out, due perhaps to the intervention of the emperor's mother. He died soon afterwards, however. When the young emperor took charge of his own government, in 1669, he allowed the Jesuits to practise their religion again, although they were forbidden to proselytize. Schall's assistant Verbiest, who had been in Peking' since 16(10, was given charge of the calendar. He also became the emperor's tutor. Soon the Ohurch prospered once more. During this time the Spanish Franciscans and Dominicans were also making some headway in Ohina, although not without difficulties,. including the opposition of the Portuguese bishops. When the Do­minican Oapillas, who had been preaching in Fukien was martyred (1648), his death inspired others to make the attempt to enter Ohina. Ohurches were built in Foochow and Tsinanfu and elsewhere. By 1665 the Dominicans had eleven residences, about twenty churches, and about 10,000 Ohristians in Ohekiang, .I!'ukien, and K wangtung; and the Franciscans had 4,000 neophytes in Oanton. The Augus­tinians, who also came from the Philippines, first effected an entrance into Ohina in 1680 and by 1687 had about 12,000 adult converts. The French Societe des Missions which at first had centered its efforts in Siam and Indo-Ohina, under the leadership of PaUu, came to Fukien about 1684. The next year saw a party of French Jesuits set sail for Ohina. Five members arrived at Ningpo in 1687. Through the influence of Verbiest, who died, however, before they could see him, they estab­lished themselves in Peking, Shansi, Shensi, and Kiangsu. Their favorable reception by Emperor K'ang Hsi caused Bouvet to journey back to France for reinforcements. When he returned, in 1699, he brought along, besides more missionaries, a representative of Louis XIV. The emperor now donated the ground and some of the funds for a church, and Louis XIV gave money, vessels, and. fur­nishings. This church, the Pei T'ang, or North Ohurch, was dedi­cated in 1703. "The French Jesuits," says Latourette, "had not only borne the name of their nation to Peking; by their scholarship 414 Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. they had enhanced the prestige of their faith and had aided in obtain­ing for all Oatholic missionaries a hearing throughout the empire." Finally, in 1092, an imperial decree was obtained which gave the Ohristians the right to worship, as a reward for the services which the missionaries had by their scientific attainments rendered the empire. While the privilege of teaching and baptizing was not ex­plicitly granted, it was a declaration of toleration for the Ohurch. The next fifteen years were years of quiet and steady growth. The imperial patronage increased. Just how many missionaries were active at a time is difficult to ascertain. Missionaries or native Ohristians were to be found in all the provinces except Kansu. By 1705 the total number of Ohristians in all Ohina was said to be about 300,000. This number does not show much advance over some of the previous figures given above, and only emphasizes the un­reliability of those estimates. At the same time there were many, especially among the educated and official classes, who looked upon the missionaries as foreigners and upon their work as being inimical to the best interests of Ohina. This opposition was bound to assert itself as soon as the right opportunity arose. Another obstacle to the continued success of the missionaries was gradually assuming serious proportions within the Ohurch itself. This was the question as to the proper Ohristian attitude toward Ohinese rites and nomenclature, a matter on which there was no unanimity among the various orders. Already before 1615 the question had been raised as to the proper Ohinese term for God. Should the terms Shang Ti (Supreme Ruler) and T'ien (Heaven) of the classic'S be used (with Ohristian connota­tions of course)? The Nestorians, Mohammedans, and Buddhists had asked the same question, and the Protestants later were to have their own difficulties in this regard. Jl.fatteo Ricci had used the term T'ien Ohu (Lord of Heaven), employed by Taoists, Buddhists, and in Oon­fucian literature; but he believed that both Shangti and T'ien could be properly adopted by Ohristians and that the use of known terms would make Ohristianity less strange to the Ohinese. Then there was the question of the ceremonies observed in honor of Oonfucius and of the ancestors. Should they be condemned ~ held to have no religious significance and tolerated? Oould Ohristian converts perform them with certain modifications ~ Ricci took the moderate position that these rites had only civil significance and that his converts could perform them in so far as the laws of the empire required. He hoped the day would come when the Ohurch's mode of honoring the dead would take the place of that of the heathen all over China. Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. 415 These and other questions brought on a controversy that lasted a hundred years. As the Jesuits themselves were not unanimous in supporting Ricci's views, although the majority in Ohina apparently followed him, it was only natural that, when the other orders began active work. in Ohinese missions, the situation became still more involved. Morales, a Dominican, who led the opposition to the Jesuit prac­tises, in 1645 received from the Propaganda a decree, approved by the Pope, tentatively prohibiting them, "until it shall be decided otherwise." Upon the Jesuit charge that they had been misrepre­sented by Morales, the Holy Office issued a decree in 1656, also tentative, allowing them to continue their rites. This decree did not cancel the first and the controversy went on, waxing hotter as it grew. It is interesting to note that the native Ohinese Dominican, Gregory Lopez, the first Ohinese appointed to a bishopric, sided against his own fraternity and with the Jesuits, even to the extent of writing several treatises in defense of Ricci's position. When Maigrot, the French Vicar Apostolic in Fukien, in 1693 prohibited the Ohristians under his jurisdiction from following the Jesuit practises and removed two Jesuit Fathers for disobedience, angry members of their flocks are said to have attacked and beaten him while he was saying mass. When the Pope, in 1697, ordered the Inquisition to reopen the whole question, all ecclesiastical circles in Europe were aroused. Even Leibnitz, the Protestant philosopher, joined the many who wrote books and pamphlets on the question by publishing a treatise in defense of the Jesuits. The ultimate result was that Pope Olement XI approved the statement issued by the Inquisition in 1704, forbidding the Jesuit practises. The Pope also sent Oharles Maillard de Tournon as special legate to the Far East to settle the controversy. His efforts in that direction were seriously hampered by the fact that Emperor K'ang Hsi upheld the Jesuit position. When de Tournon finally threatened the disobedient missionaries with excommunication, the emperor had him deported to Macao, where he was kept in semi­imprisonment. The Pope, probably in order to give de Tournon greater prestige, made him cardinal; but that faithful servant died soon after his investiture, in 1710. The bull Ex illa die, issued by Clement XI in 1715, upheld the decree of 1704 and de Tournon's edict of 1707. Still the Jesuits held their ground. The next step taken by the Vatican was to send a new legate to Ohina for the publication of the bull there. Jean Mezzabarba was chosen for the task. He was more politic than de Tournon had been, but was opposed by Emperor K'ang Hsi nevertheless. This learned ruler was gifted 416 Christian Missions in China Before Morrison. with a real sense of humor. 'When Mezzabarba insisted that the papal bull which he was publishing was divinely inspired, the emperor remarked that "Maigrot must be the Holy Spirit, for the document corresponded with Maigrot's position." 11:ezzabarba at last compromised with the Jesuits by allowing eight "permissions" if the papal bull would be accepted by them. Some of these "permissions" were as follows. The Ohinese Ohristians "were to be allowed to have in their homes' tablets to the dead in­scribed with the names of the deceased, provided there was placed beside them a statement of the Ohristian belief about the soul and a disavowal of any superstition that might become a subject of scandal; all ceremonies of the Ohinese in honor of ancestors which were neither superstitious nor suspected of superstition were per­mitted; honor to Oonfucius in so far as it was purely civil was allowed, provided that the tablet be purged of any superstitious in­scription and that a declaration be made of the faith of the Church," etc. Mezzabarba's report concerning this action did not please the Pope, Innocent XIII, who commanded the General of the Jesuits to bring his order into line. Then Benedict XIV, who was no friend of the Jesuits, in 1742 issued the bull Ex quo singuZari, in which he annulled the eight permissions, commanded the disobedient mission­aries to go back to Europe, and "purified the form of the oath of obedience to the papal decrees, which must be taken by all mis­sionaries." Roma ZOGuta, causa finita! The days of formal toleration of Ohristiani.ty were at an end, however. Persecutions which began during the closing years of the reign of K'ang Hsi, who had been so favorable to the Jesuits, con­tinued under his successors in increasing degree, although the laws against Ohristianity were not always enforced with equal vigor in all parts of the empire. From 1707 to 1837 we have therefore a period of retarded growth of the Roman Oatholic Ohurch in Ohina. 'Vhen the J Gsuit order was dissolved in 1773, the Lazarists (the Congregation or the Priests of the Mission) were given charge of their field in 1783; but the turmoil in Europe due to the French Revolution and the Napoleonic VVars cut off both workers and mon­etary support in a great measure. The persecutions continued from time to time, and though there were Roman Oatholic Ohristians in about eighteen provinces, the total number of these in the first half of the nineteenth century, when the Protestant missions in Ohina began, did not exceed a quarter of a million. W. G. POLAOK. OOT1'igendum: Kwanyin, female principle, goddess of mercy, sometimes called the Mother Mary of China. (See Vol. III, No.4, p. 280.) W. G. P.