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Rites controversy

Rites controversy. A conflict among Roman Catholic missionary orders in China in the 17th and 18th cents. It centred on the issue of whether Chinese converts could continue with some pre-Christian practices (especially ancestor rituals), and whether Tʾien could be regarded as the equivalent of God. The Jesuits were in favour, the Dominicans and Franciscans against (on grounds of syncretism and dilution of the faith). On appeal to the pope, the Jesuits were overruled in 1704; the order against integration was repeated in 1715 and 1742. The Chinese court regarded this as interference in internal religious matters, and issued countermeasures, banning missionary preaching unless it accepted the so-called Matteo Ricci regulations—i.e. following his example in approving the rites. The virtual eclipse of Christianity in China was the result of the papal ruling.

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