One of the key issues during the Chinese Rites Controversy was Chinese ancestral rites. Deeming ancestral rites idolatrous, mendicant missionaries advocated banning them; the Jesuits accommodated ancestral rites under certain conditions. The defense provided by the Jesuits focused on the ancestral rites being civil and political, and therefore not idolatrous. This article examines the views of Yan Mo 嚴謨 a lower-level Confucian Catholic literatus. Yan’s defense of the ancestral rites differs from the Jesuits in that Yan focused on the intrinsic value of ancestral rites as cultural practices, which he called “ancient rites of China.” Yan consulted Confucian canons and pointed out that performing the ancestral rites is an act of filial piety that, in the context of Chinese culture, is so embedded in the Chinese culture that the rites cannot be substituted by Christian practices such as praying the rosary or giving alms.

You do not currently have access to this content.