From Maximum Illud 1919 to the First National Synod Primum Concilium Sinensis 1924 in Shanghai: Historical & Theological Perspectives
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Copyright (c) 2022 Franz Gassner
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The Synod is as old as the Church itself. The concept originates from Greek σύνοδος, literally, “coming together,” “joint way”, “assembly”, “concourse”. Following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is the proper forum to address major challenges in the church, e.g., the admission of Gentiles (Jerusalem 50 AD), the nature of Jesus Christ (Nicaea 325 AD), or the role of Mother Mary in the history of Salvation (Ephesus 431 AD). For the whole of China, as late as 1924 a First National Synod was convened to deliberate and decide on major issues of inculturation of faith and the sinicization of the universal Church in China. It was convened by the Apostolic Delegate Celso Costantini in Shanghai 1924, and was a response to Pope Benedicts XV’s urgent mission directive Maximum Illud (1919) during a time of dramatic and historical transitions in China.
Keywords: Celso Costantini; Christianity in China; Colonialism; Inculturation; Maximum Illud; Mission and Politics; Sinicization; Synod of Shanghai