JESUITICA: Ricci’s Korean legacy
The founding fathers of the Korean Church were not Western missionaries but Confucian intellectuals who studied Catholic books published in China by Jesuits, especially Ricci’s The true meaning of the Lord of Heaven. They came to consider Catholicism as a new interpretation of Early Confucianism, and embraced it with faith. By contrast, lower-class Koreans understood that Catholic belief was different from Confucianism, and saw it as a way to challenge the unjust social system based on the Confucianism of the ruling class. For them the gospel was not just a piece of good religious news but a faith expressed in social justice. Consequently the government came to see the church as a threat to the social order, and tested the loyalty of Catholics in repeated persecutions. Pictured here is a statue of Christ from outside the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul.