“I hope Xi Jinping can say yes”
PEDRO DANIEL OLIVEIRA
New winds are blowing. In an interview with O CLARIM, Father Beda Liu praises the willingness of the Catholic Church to approach the People’s Republic of China and hopes President Xi Jinping will accept the invitation to visit the Vatican. A confessed admirer of Pope Francis, the superior of the Society of Jesus in Macau adds that more evangelization is needed in the Territory and when it comes to the world he says the violence will not end until man takes a look at himself.
O CLARIM – What are your thoughts about the current Jesuit mission in Mainland China?
BEDA LIU – We continue according to the work of Saint Francis Xavier [one of the founders of the Society of Jesus] and Matteo Ricci [the first Jesuit who entered Mainland China and established permanent residence there]. Even though we cannot do whatever we would like, with the opportunities offered to us and also with our charism, we have more than enough to do. It’s a big challenge because the mission isn’t small but broad.
CL – Can you elaborate?
B.L. – For example, when I was provincial of Chinese Province I limited myself to cultural educational exchange and I didn’t touch Church affairs. And then, after I finished my term as a provincial, before I came to Macau I could do more, such as partaking in formation and education ministries.
CL – Did you have freedom to do all of that by your own?
B.L. – In general, within the prescribed framework, I’ve had sufficient freedom. However, I know some people who continue to live under the wings of the formal [Catholic] public organization in Mainland China.
CL – ANSA, the leading Italian news agency, reported recently that Pope Francis has invited Xi Jinping, the President of People’s Republic of China, for a visit to the Vatican. His Holiness also expressed his desire to pay a visit to the most populous country in the world. Is this a good sign?
B.L. – Yes, and it is very much in accord with the Pope’s approach. He is a man of dialogue, which is the Jesuit direction. Reconciliation is essential for our mission and I admire his courage, openness and creativity for taking this initiative.
CL – Is this approach going to benefit both sides or is it most likely nothing will change?
B.L. – We never know. At least he showed sincerity.
CL – What to expect from the President Xi Jinping?
B.L. – I would hope that Xi Jinping could accept [the invitation], but I don’t know. We, the Catholic Church, hope so.
CL – Pope Francis as a Jesuit…
B.L. – When I read his works, he touches me very much. I feel close to him, even though I have never met him personally. His biography and his writings, especially “Evangelii Gaudium”, which means “The Joy of the Gospel”, I think it’s really inspiring and I can see a different way of communication.
CL – What are your thoughts about Catholicism in Macau?
B.L. – I think we need to do more in order to get to the people. Our Pope says: “Go to the streets,” which means for me to go to the people. We need to evangelize.
CL – Do you see a better world in future or will it get worse?
B.L. – We need to develop ourselves and dedicate [time for] contemplation and prayer. Otherwise, when we open the newspapers we will see that the world isn’t healed and are left with the impression that is not getting better.
CL – We see on the news a lot of violence in the Middle East. It seems that Western powers are not innocent either…
B.L. – Talking about the world again, there is a big manifestation of violence. We can tell that violence comes from the heart, and that heart is divided.
CL – How about the ISIS extremists? They have no mercy on anyone who doesn’t follow their radical standards. What is your opinion on this matter?
B.L. – I would say there are many ways of taking action, but we always follow the principle of non-violence.
A LIFE OF LEARNING (BOX)
Liu Chia Cheng, born in Taiwan, studied at the National University of Taiwan. He was baptized at the age of 20, and was given a Christian name in memory of Father Beda Chang. He joined the Society of Jesus at the age of 23. After ordination he spent two years in England, first studying English, and later pastoral theology in Heythrop College. Then he went back to Taiwan for the final stage of his common formation as a Jesuit. He pursued further studies at Asian Institute of Management in Manila (Philippines), and Japanese management and Asian business in Japan. To be better prepared, later he attended the University of California, Berkeley, in USA, to specialize in Asian Studies. Back in Taiwan, he helped the Church and worked in Fu Jen Catholic University. Father Beda Liu was the Jesuit provincial of the Chinese Province between 1996 and 2005. He arrived in Macau two years ago to be the superior of the Society of Jesus in the Territory.