The Council of Trent also dealt with issues concerning the relation between the Scriptures and the ecclesiastical tradition, between fides and mores. The debate which was expected to establish the doctrine but needed to avoid getting down to specific details, addressed the issue of the rituals and customs of the Church and therefore of the physical and public role that the Catholic faith had and expressed among the faithful. Some of the discussions played a decisive part in the behaviour the Church was to take towards other people’s rituals, particularly towards the so-called Chinese Rites, the ceremonies dedicated to Confucius and to their ancestors. In China the Council’s decrees were never ratified, giving the missionaries a margin of freedom and adaptation. The Chinese rites were examined from the point of view of their nature – idolatrous or superstitious, religious or social, and indifferent. Indifference was an assessment made in a context describing an atheist China, whose government used religions to maintain order in society. The Tridentine decrees were not mentioned in the discussion about the rites (the only exception was the decree on images) but the Tridentine ideology was the lens through which the possible access of Christianity to China was viewed, analyzed and judged. Under that discussion ran a hidden evaluation of the role that the Church could have developed within the Chinese empire and of its relation with an empire that was perceived as atheist. For the Society of Jesus, with its ideology of the primitive and apostolic church, China became the bearer of a continuity of thought in the history of the Church. The Society viewed its missionary experience in the light of the origins, of the choices made by the apostles, and eliminated any dogmatic reflection. Comparisons between the past and the present brought to light the contradictions and relativisation of rites and ceremonies which were appropriated by libertine and Enlightenment thinkers, reflecting on the misunderstandings generated by the diverse human mentalities found in the world and the presence of ethical values independent of theology. The Tridentine Profession of faith of 1564 was more than a “summary” of the Tridentine decrees. It enhanced the “public” aspect of belonging to the Catholic faith and defined the essence of being a Christian, anchoring it to a universal authoritarian model, summarized in an act of submission to the pope, in a same creed which manifested itself in a single morality. The different interpretations of the nature of the Chinese Rites highlight that one of the insuperable aspects of the querelle was the authorization of the diverse behaviours expressed in the rituals. If religions were the instruments of a political-atheist government, the Catholic Church was unable to correct their rituals.
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|Data di pubblicazione:||2017|
|Titolo:||The Tridentine Decrees Interpret the Chinese Rites|
|Data del convegno:||3-5 ottobre 2013|
|Nome del convegno:||Trent and Beyond. The Council, other Powers, other Cultures|
|Luogo del convegno:||Trento|
|Titolo del libro:||Trent and Beyond. The Council, other Powers, other Cultures|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Relazione in Atti di Convegno|
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