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The Catholic Invasion of China


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Illustrations Maps Chronology of Events in the Catholic Invasion of China Acknowledgments Chapter One: Catholicism and Western Imperialism in China Chapter Two: Spiritual Domination by European Catholics in Nineteenth-Century China Chapter Three: European Resistance to the Emergence of an Indigenous Catholic Church Chapter Four: Love and Hysteria in Catholic Orphanages in China Chapter Five: Sexual Domination by Catholic Priests in China Chapter Six: The Misreading of the Missionary "Debacle" in China Appendix A: List of the 120 Martyrs in China Canonized by John Paul II in 2000 Appendix B: Chinese Character Glossary Notes Bibliography Index About the Author

About the Author

D. E. Mungello is professor of history at Baylor University. His books include The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500 - 1800, Drowning Girls in China: Female Infanticide since 1650, and Western Queers in China: The Fight to the Land of Oz.


The book is a fascinating account of Chinese Catholicism. The traditional view saw that history as an appendage of Western imperialism. M. acknowledges the colonial aspects, but he takes the long view to argue that the 'invasion' contributed to the transformation of a mission church into an indigenous expression of Catholicism, now growing into the millions, enriching both the Chinese church and the church universal. * Theological Studies *
[Mungello] presents a nuanced argument about how the modern history of Catholicism in China (that is, from 1800) should be evaluated. Although he is critical of an earlier generation of Western interpretations of Catholic missions for judging the whole effort a failure, he readily acknowledges the errors and damages incurred, as suggested by his use of invasion in the title. From the beginning, however, he states his position that the ultimate achievement of an indigenous form of Catholicism, after centuries of European local management, was more important than the deleterious short-term effects of `this invasion'. He pursues this position through a series of essays on selected aspects of the modern history of the Chinese Catholic Church.... [H]e emphasizes the positive features of the experience, notably the long-term transformation of a mission church into an indigenous religion, enriching Chinese culture and making Catholicism more universal. He anticipates the election of a Chinese pope. * The Catholic Historical Review *
The Catholic Invasion of China continues [Mungello's] orientation toward the recent past while returning to his intellectual roots in the history of Christianity.... The best bonus is a final historiographical overview.... Mungello speaks of reciprocal transformation, not only the Christian strengthening of China, but even the Chinese strengthening of Christianity. Mungello's approach locates the invasion's great success in making Chinese Christianity Chinese. * American Historical Review *
This book delivers a challenging account of events and a subtle analysis of socio-cultural currents in Sino-Christian interaction for the period subsequent to the Jesuits' reentry into China in the first half of the 19th century. . . . [Mungello] concludes with a fair (and hope-filled) assessment of the mixed results produced by the Catholic mission, which, bearing the freight of secular force on its back, ushered in a sustainable indigenising ethos among its Chinese faithful, but seems to have bowed out before a satisfactory resolution to the split between the Official and the Underground Church could be reached. * The Heythrop Journal *
The Catholic Invasion of China ... contains first-rate research. Mungello highlights the agency of Chinese believers from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and shows how their initiative has been central to forging a truly Chinese Catholic church (or perhaps churches). The book is therefore a welcome contribution to scholarship in both China and the West over the last few decades that has emphasized the compatibility of Christianity with Chinese culture, while pursuing a deeper understanding of how that relationship has evolved. Finally, the cover illustration is truly sumptuous, culturally significant, and just about warrants purchase of the book on its own. * Journal of Chinese Religions *
Mungello's monograph is a meditation on one central theme, namely the perception of the Catholic church in China today, in particular by the country's Communist authorities, as well the press and the educational system under their direct aegis. . . . Rather than defending the missionaries as pure emissaries of peaceful tidings, Mungello depicts the conflicting realities of their spiritual, denominational (and therefore political), cultural (hence political), economic (therefore political) and diplomatic (and thus overtly political) roles. In brief, the intended function of the Catholic missionaries, namely the transmission of a spiritual alternative to the complexity of faiths in later imperial China, was buried in the public perception by the overriding `political' interpretation of their mission. Rather than sacred souls serving the Lord, missionaries came to be seen as individuals with ulterior motives-sometimes regarded as idealistic, often as depraved and, by the end of the mid-20th century, collectively as being in direct service of an intrusive West. . . . In essence, David Mungello's monograph combines the author's chief research interests-namely the role of the Chinese clergy and church elders in periods of state-induced hardship, as well as the behaviour and perception of marginal groups, such as homosexuals, children and deviant priests-in an attempt to reinterpret the crucial century between 1840 and 1950 as part of China's historical experience. The recent official reactions clearly show that this Catholic invasion is anything but history. * China Quarterly *
[C]oncise and informative.... This short and rich book with fascinating and sometimes sorrowful stories makes significant contribution to understanding evolution of Catholicism in China and Western-China relations in general. With detailed notes and bibliography as well as appendixes covering the list of the 120 martyrs and a bilingual glossary, the book serves as a great reference for students and other readers who are interested in the history of Christianity in China and Western cultural imperialism. * *
[An] ambitious effort to examine the history of Catholicism in China from 1834 to 2000. It contrasts the first Jesuit missionary era in China (1580-1787), which, under the impetus of Matteo Ricci and his Jesuit companions, was `famous for its adaptation to, rather that alienation from, Chinese culture' with the second era, led specifically by French Jesuits and set in the context of the European imperialist intrusion into China. The many missteps and even damaging impact of the missionary activity in this second era are captured by the word `invasion' in the book's title. . . . Notwithstanding this debacle, Mungello surprisingly concludes that this missionary era in China has been misread. He argues that it ultimately led to `remaking Chinese Christianity,' more specifically, Catholicism. It also contributed to transforming what was a mission church into an indigenous religion embedded in the culture and giving rise to an authentically local expression of Chinese Catholicism. * International Bulletin of Mission Research *
These revisions to the scholarly perspective on the history of Christianity in China are most welcome. The Catholic invasion of China provides a host of valuable case studies in support of Mungello's positive, long-term view of Christian mission in China, while also helpfully pointing readers towards the relatively unexplored wealth of Catholic missionary activity in China beyond the early Jesuit mission. Mungello's prose is clear and his research is well documented. . . Those interested in the Zikawei Jesuits or the struggles of Chinese Catholic priests in mid twentiethcentury Shanghai will find the book of particular value. * Journal of Ecclesiastical History *
D. E. Mungello's fascinating account focuses on particular confrontational episodes following the resumption of the Jesuit missionary enterprise in the middle of the nineteenth century. With characteristic thoroughness, he reveals the at times contradictory nature of the new missionary engagement in China. The Catholic Invasion of China examines in meticulous detail the resistance by the Catholics of Jiangnan to the imposition of a European-led ecclesiastical hierarchy in the 1840s. The spiritual domination and control of church affairs by foreign priests, convinced of their (French) `mission civilisatrice', retarded the development of an indigenous Catholic church. As the first history of Catholicism in China to emphasize race and sexuality, Mungello's book corrects a major misreading of modern Chinese history. -- R. G. Tiedemann, Shandong University, China
This is an excellent book where the interested reader can find a balanced, insightful discussion and analysis of the history of the Roman Catholic Church in China. Professor Mungello has offered us several stimulating books on this subject in the past, and now he has created a well-rounded work of synthesis of the story of the Church in China. I recommend it highly. -- Daniel H. Bays, Calvin College
David Mungello has been consistently erudite, lucid, and comprehensive in his writings on Chinese Christians. Here is another crisp and ambitious offering. -- Jonathan Spence, Yale University

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