The Chinese Rites controversy, which ended today in 1715, in Papal condemnation, damaged the reputation of the Jesuits in Rome and in many ways was a precursor to the Suppression. The success of the Jesuit missions in China had been remarkable, building on the work of Mateo Ricci and was based on their deep appreciation of Chinese culture and Chinese History. This success was resented by other missionaries who were critical of the Jesuits' methods. There were three areas of contention, firstly Jesuit claims that Chinese terms could be used to designate the Christian God, secondly that the Confucian ceremonies were merely civil rites that Christians could attend and finally that Chinese ancestor worship was compatible with Christianity.
The Papal bull Ex Illa Die issued on the 19 March 1715 stated the following -
Pope Clement XI wishes to make the following facts permanently known to all the people in the world....
I. The West calls Deus [God] the creator of Heaven, Earth, and everything in the universe. Since the word Deus does not sound right i n the Chinese language, the Westerners in China and Chinese converts to Catholicism have used the term "Heavenly Lord" for many years. From now on such terms as "Heaven" and "Shangti" should not be used: Deus should be addressed as the Lord of Heaven, Earth, and everything in the universe. The tablet that bears the Chinese words "Reverence for Heaven" should not be allowed to hang inside a Catholic church and should be immediately taken down if already there.
II. The spring and autumn worship of Confucius, together with the worship of ancestors, is not allowed among Catholic converts. It is not allowed even though the converts appear in the ritual as bystanders, because to be a bystander in this ritual is as pagan as to participate in it actively.
III. Chinese officials and successful candidates in the metropolitan, provincial, or prefectural examinations, if they have been converted to Roman Catholicism, are not allowed to worship in Confucian temples on the first and fifteenth days of each month. The same prohibition is applicable to all the Chinese Catholics who, as officials, have recently arrived at their posts or who, as students, have recently passed the metropolitan, provincial, or prefectural examinations.
IV. No Chinese Catholics are allowed to worship ancestors in their familial temples.
V. Whether at home, in the cemetery, or during the time of a funeral, a Chinese Catholic is not allowed to perform the ritual of ancestor worship. He is not allowed to do so even if he is in company with nonChristians. Such a ritual is heathen in nature regardless of the circumstances.
Despite the above decisions, I have made it clear that other Chinese customs and traditions that can in no way be interpreted as heathen in nature should be allowed to continue among Chinese converts. The way the Chinese manage their households or govern their country should by no means be interfered with. As to exactly what customs should or should not be allowed to continue, the papal legate in China will make the necessary decisions. In the absence of the papal legate, the responsibility of making such decisions should rest with the head of the China mission and the Bishop of China. In short, customs and traditions that are not contradictory to Roman Catholicism will be allowed, while those that are clearly contradictory to it will not be tolerated under any circumstances.