Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

1919-2019. Hope for peace between East and West

On 15 May 2019, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore hosted a historical event for dialogue between the West and China. For the first time, two Chinese Catholic bishops, along with the Vatican Secretary of State, cardinal Pietro Parolin, took part in a joint public initiative following the Provisional Agreement on the nomination of bishops, signed in Beijing on 22 September 2018. «The agreement», said Cardinal Parolin, «looks firstly at the life of the Catholic community in that great country and, consequently, encourages China to foster an increasingly open dialogue in favour of peace as a common good for the human family».

At the international conference entitled 1919-2019. Hope for peace between East and West, in commemoration of ten years since the foundation of the Confucius Institute, two Chinese Catholic bishops were present - Monsignor Li Shan, bishop of Beijing, and Monsignor Huang Bingzhang, bishop of Shantou - together with cardinal Parolin, in addition to distinguished scholars such as Andrea Riccardi, Adriano Roccucci, Morris Rossabi, Guido Samarani, Liu Guopeng and Agostino Giovagnoli.

Franco Anelli the Rector of Università Cattolica gave the go-ahead for the work of the international conference and declared «We met the challenge of overcoming the cultural diversity with the Chinese world with great enthusiasm and shared hope. Today it is ever closer to us but, however, risks remaining at the far end if we do not promote knowledge, encounter and dialogue»

«With Pope Francis we have now reached the last steps - for the moment - of the long journey begun by Benedict XV in 1919», said cardinal Parolin during his address dedicated to the theme: The Catholic Church's commitment to the unity of the human family, from Benedict XV to Pope Francis. «As the first non-European Pope for many centuries, Francis epitomises the profound transformation of the Catholic Church whose centre of gravity has progressively projected itself out from Europe towards a global horizon», added the Vatican Secretary of State.

«Therefore», concluded cardinal Parolin, «the increasingly fruitful integration of Chinese Catholics into the universal Church and the path of reconciliation between brothers ordained in recent years certainly constitute a manifestation of historical significance which, over time, will benefit many, not only China. Indeed, the Holy Father Francis and the entire Catholic Church hope that, with God's help, all this can contribute to the construction of a more just and fraternal world where harmony between peoples and nations can truly contribute to the cause of peace and the unity of the human family».

According to Beijing bishop Monsignor Li Shan, «in the past 60 years, under the guidance and joint efforts of the more established brothers in the faith, enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Chinese Catholic Church has elected 203 bishops. The bishops have always kept flame of faith alive - loyal to the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" Church - and they have worked diligently and have witnessed the faith, contributing crucially to the pastoral and evangelisation mission of the Chinese Church».

For this reason, the bishop of Beijing continued, «we are pleased that many problems, created primarily by the difficult international situation of the time and not by religious differences, are now resolved: on 22 September 2018, thanks to significant and meaningful dialogue between the two parties, China and the Holy See signed a provisional agreement on episcopal nominations, bringing the totality of Chinese bishops into communion with the Pope and with the universal Church. This has always been the desire of many popes and it is also our desire. Through dialogue a bridge of peace has been constructed that has broken down a wall that lasted almost seventy years».

The work of the international conference was preceded by the Signature of the Agreement for another ten years with the Hanban, the Office for the diffusion of Chinese Language and Culture abroad, connected with the Ministry of Education in Beijing.

The Confucius Institute of Università Cattolica, the first office to be inaugurated in Lombardy, was founded in 2009 by the collaboration between Università Cattolica, the Beijing Language and Culture University (Beijing) and the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, and is directed by Elisa Giunipero, professor at the University.