the seventeenth century, the Society of Jesus had enjoyed the exclusive right to propagate the gospel in Japan and China. From this position of independence the Jesuits had devised a policy of accommodation or adaptation to Chinese culture and to the life-style and etiquette of the Confucian scholar-elites. By addressing themselves to the literate elite, they engaged in evangelization 'from the top down'. Moreover, they used European science and technology in order to attract the attention of the educated Chinese, sending well-trained scientists, astronomers and artists to the court to work for the emperor. Their monopoly of the directorship of the important Astronomical Bureau from 1644 gave these Court Jesuits influence with the emperor or at least with some court officials. Of more general significance is the fact that they adopted a tolerant attitude towards certain Chinese rites, like ancestral worship and the veneration of Confucius, which they declared to be 'civil rites'.
However, the exclusive position of the Society of Jesus was challenged in the 1630s by the arrival of Spanish mendicants (Dominicans in Fujian and Dis-calced Franciscans in Shandong) from the Philippines. In the 1680s the Spanish Augustinians also became active in a somewhat more modest capacity. Of greater significance was the introduction of the vicariate system to the eastern missions which permitted direct papal action in China. The appointment of the first vicars apostolic under the direct authority of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (or Propaganda Fide) was closely connected to the foundation of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris (Société des Missions Etrangères de Paris) in 1659. This new society of secular priests sent to China missionaries who were less willing to practise accommodation. Propaganda Fide sent the first Reformed Franciscans from Italy to China in the 1680s.
The new situation demanded the establishment of a clear ecclesiastical structure in the Middle Kingdom. The Portuguesepadroado hadbeenin charge of one diocese in the Portuguese settlement of Macao since 1576; however, the extent of this diocese had never been clearly defined. Thus, the appointment of the first vicars apostolic was not surprisingly accompanied by protracted intra-church conflicts between the padroado and Propaganda Fide. The ensuing jurisdictional issues were finally settled by Pope Innocent XII in 1696. China was divided into three padroado dioceses with limited territory: the diocese of Beijing included the provinces of Zhili and Shandong as well as the territory of Liaodungin Manchuria; the diocese ofNanjing consisted of Anhui, Jiangsu, and Henan; and the diocese of Macao included Guangdong, Guangxi, and the island of Hainan. Each oftheremainingprovincesbecame vicariates apostolic: Fujian, Jiangxi, Huguang (later divided into Hunan and Hubei), Sichuan, Guizhou, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Yunnan, and Zhejiang.12
Was this article helpful?