Pentecostals; formation of some new independent Chinese Christian groups outside the Sino-foreign Protestant institutions, with no links at all to foreign missionaries; and a rising tide of nationalism in China which would soon have a devastating impact on missions and Christian communities.


Like the Protestants, the Roman Catholic communities in China recovered quickly from the Boxer chaos, and in the ensuing years continued to expand, mainly in rural areas. In 1912 there were 1.4 million Catholics (more than a quarter of them in Hebei province), with about 1,470 foreign and 730 Chinese priests. The Catholic community was more self-containedthanthe Protestants. It had as yet few modern schools beyond the primary level, and also lagged behind Protestants in medical work andpublishing efforts, especially on secular topics. Shortly after 1900 France renounced her protectorate of all non-French missions, even as several new Catholic orders made their initial appearance on the field in China. In the United States, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America and a seminary were established in 1911. This would soon become the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, whose first missionary priests went to China in 1918.

Some leading Chinese Catholics were impatient with the slowness of the church to participate in national reform and modernisation activities, especially in higher education. Ma Xiangbo (1840-1939) was a brilliant Jesuit priest who was instrumental in laying the groundwork for three important Catholic universities between 1903 and 1913, two in Shanghai and one in Peking. The latter, which would eventually become Furen University, was also the work of Ying Lianzhi (1867-1926), an important Catholic layman and publisher of the respected Tianjin daily Dagongbao. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church as a whole remained fairly indifferent to such reform initiatives, and, even more than in the Protestant case, positions of power remained firmly in the hands of foreigners. The one foreign priest who would later spearhead a movement to indigenise the power structure of the Catholic Church in China, Father Vincent Lebbe (1877-1940), a Belgian, had already come to China in 1901, and was forming his views on indigenisation, but would not begin the open advocacy of them until after 1915.

Russian Orthodoxy

From 1685 onwards, a few representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church were permitted to reside in a small ecclesiastical study mission in Peking, but

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment