Benoît Vermander SJ
Arriving in China at the end of the sixteenth century, Jesuit missionaries experimented with an inventive policy of accommodation that relied on the support and insights of converted literati. The viewpoints and information they forwarded to Europe had profound religious, cultural, and political repercussions. The resulting controversies proved divisive to the point of almost destroying the nascent Church. After 1842, the Second Jesuit Mission in China had to deal with the results of the semicolonial context in which it had developed. From 1949 onward, Jesuits of Chinese nationality—present since the beginning of the mission—had to take the lead at the very time when the country’s political and religious conditions were undergoing radical transformation. Present-day scholarship has engaged in a hermeneutical analysis of the relationship that developed between the Jesuits, on the one hand, and Chinese culture and society, on the other.