What awakens humanity. A testimony
The series of four meetings devoted to the testimonies according to the title of the Meeting, was introduced by Tobias Hoffmann, Professor of Medieval Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. “I met Professor Wu Tianyue last year in a conference on philosophy and I was impressed by how he was deeply Catholic. Therefore I have decided to invite him to the Rimini Meeting. I believe that, in order to understand better the western culture and thought, we must first understand how the East philosophers and men of culture live and witness to Christianity in their sociological context. ”
Tianyue Wu, Professor in the Philosophy Department at the Institute of Foreign Philoisophy of Peking University, opened its extensive relationship with some historical considerations in order to the origins of Christianity in China: “In our country there are approximately six million Catholics, it is a mystery that they are able to practice their faith in a so different cultural context from the West. ” It follows an in-depth historical examination. “Confucius has always preached to his followers how important it was to respect the supernatural entities, which were considered guardians of the human being life.” When Christianity arrived in China with the Jesuits, led by Father Matteo Ricci, in the early 1600s was welcomed at the court of the sovereigns. “Initially, the Jesuits came very closely to Confucians – remember the teacher – leaving the permission to Christians to be able to continue to play the Eastern rites even after their conversion, but that did not like many of their rivals, who persuaded the Pope to ban such practices in the east. ” It was only with Pope Pius XII, who in the early decades of the twentieth century allowed Christians to the east to be able to maintain links with Confucianism.
When in 1948, after the war, Mao Tse Tung and the communists seized of power, religious practices were banned, according to the Marxist idea that religion is the peoples’ opium, and was preached atheism throughout the nation. “However in 1978 – says Wu – the government began to pursue an opening policy, with a reform in 1979 that allowed the opening of all the Catholic churches.”
After the historical introduction, Professor Wu focuses on his own experience: “I was born and grew up in a southwestern province of China. My grandfather studied at a Catholic mission, he was an observant and thought to become a priest, yet he returned from a trip with a severe headache … and decided to become a doctor. ” The house management, says the Professor, was entrusted to her grandmother, “Our family had a good cultural level and we used a colloquial language while using a more formal language, the mass was really a nightmare for us, because it was entirely recited in Latin. ”
“My grandfather death – continues Wu – moves my conscience: to take care of him, I stayed with him for three days and three nights, after his death some of my close relatives entered the seminary. I had no doubts, I found much solace in religion, I began to read the texts of the English preacher John Bunyan and St. Augustine, and I decided to enroll in the faculty of philosophy. ” Each area of southern China, the speaker adds, may enroll only some of its young people to university faculties: “I was first and was unable to enroll in philosophy.” “I remember that many of my fellow students enrolled in business schools searched for evening jobs to support themselves studies: I preferred instead to train my mind reading the Western philosophers, more attracted by the convenience of their thought and its application to everyday life, than the deepening of the theoretical steps. ”
The departments of Chinese philosophy, says Wu, have major shortcomings, focusing on the classical or modern philosophy rather than on actual thought. For that reason, after a few months Wu moved to Brussels for further study on St. Thomas and the medieval Christian thought. “Then – he concludes – I returned to Beijing, where I began teaching in the same university where I had graduated.”
Tianyue Wu’s life story sums up the courage to profess the Christian faith in a traditional context different from the West and to devote an entire life to pursue his philosophical studies and Christianity itself.