Benoit Vermander, SJ

Professor of Religious Science at Fudan University, Shanghai


Even today the notion of the “Axial Age” (Achsenzeit) is the subject of heated debate.[1] Should we consider it a myth or an actual historical reality? As a first step, we should approach the concept as a tool for analysis rather than as a historical reality firmly anchored in time (such as a dynasty or… Read the full article


Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti (FT) resonates as a passionate tribute to a fraternity without borders. If fraternity has a distinctive “local flavor,” Francis asserts, it is necessarily lived in a context of universality. Living a kind of fraternity that “integrates and unites” should appear as a kind of imperative, as an obvious fact that… Read the full article


For Confucius, “a noble man of spirit does not use colors such as amaranth or purple for the hems of his clothes, neither red nor purple for everyday wear.”[1] The Analects of Confucius abound in similar aphorisms and, at first glance, one might wonder whether the detail of the dress standards that the Chinese philosopher… Read the full article


China, the first country hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, is also the first nation to try to return to a certain normality. It is therefore, and doubly so, a laboratory, and what happens there is of primary interest to the entire planet. Moreover, the specificities of its political and social system raise many questions about… Read the full article


The Peace of Maxentius in 307 and the consequent official cessation of persecution led to a violent conflict in the Church. Led by Bishop Donatus, the “pure ones” refused the re-admission of the “traitors” (those who had handed over their sacred books and vessels) and the “lapsed” (those who had “fallen” during the persecution, beginning… Read the full article


Three thousand students gathered in Beijing on May 4, 1919, to protest against the preliminary provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, which gave to Japan the German-held territories in Shandong Province.[1] A national boycott of Japanese products ensued, followed by a general strike in Shanghai, which was the country’s industrial capital at the time. The… Read the full article


The deeply rooted Latin concept of the “sacred” was integrated into the Chinese lexicon with the creation of a specific word. The term shensheng is primarily used by scholars and Christians – especially Catholics[1] – but can also be used by all Chinese attempting to describe a mysterious place, full of spiritual energies. This includes… Read the full article


Over the last decades interreligious dialogue in Asia has faced some tough challenges. Even though many religious leaders, organizations and thinkers have been working constructively and efficaciously, at the popular level religions often limit themselves to coexisting rather than engaging in dialogue and collaboration. Besides, tensions and conflicts, both short- and long-term, continue to be… Read the full article

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