Paul Xu Guangqi
Statue of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxia
Graveyard in Xujiahui
Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of Shanghai has issued a pastoral letter for the upcoming Chinese New Year urging his flock to learn from Paul Xu Guangqi, the first local Catholic convert for whom the diocese is promoting his sainthood cause. The letter Xu Guangqi: A Man for All Seasons was published last weekend, three weeks before the start of the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which begins on January 23. The letter comes days after the 95-year-old Jesuit prelate was discharged from hospital, having suffered a broken rib after a fall. Describing himself as “an old fan” of Xu (1562-1633), the prominent Church leader urged Catholics to respect, commemorate and propagate the sage during the 450th anniversary of his birth this year. Xu, a Chinese scholar-bureaucrat who collaborated with Jesuit Fr Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), had a mild and flexible character but “it does not mean he easily compromised his faith or had no aggressiveness in evangelization,” Bishop Jin noted. During the difficult early days of the Church in China, Xu insisted on practicing Fr Ricci’s principle of respecting Chinese culture and maintaining a cautious approach in protecting the Church community, he wrote. Xu suggested that direct confrontation would lead to greater hatred and persecution of Catholics. “Leave it as it is, and hatred would naturally calm down,” the letter said. At the same time, Xu tried his best to explain the Catholic faith to the emperor and put himself forward as a role model for being both a Catholic and loyal Chinese citizen. “How can such faith be a compromising faith?” Bishop Jin asked. According to the prelate, Xujiahui district in downtown Shanghai, which grew around the graveyard where Xu was buried, became a place where modern Chinese culture developed and spread. Xu was also a founder and pioneer of Catholicism in Shanghai. Thus Bishop Jin urged Catholics to visit historic monuments associated with Xu and learn from his example during his birth anniversary this year and his 380th death anniversary next year. He also called on the sick to pray for Xu’s intercession so that any miracle would be contributive to making him the first Chinese confessor-saint.