Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Signing Ceremony with the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs
February 19, 2008
Before I talk about our distinguished delegation from China and today’s lecture by the honorable Minister Ye Xiaowen, I’d like to acknowledge a few members of our audience— His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington; the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi; and Fr. James Stormes, S.J., Secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference. Your presence here is an honor, and I am thankful for the great perspectives and experience you bring to today’s conference.
But let me get back to the main reason for today’s meetings… Speaking for the Georgetown community, I’d like to express how delighted we are to host all of you today… And also how honored we are to enter into this partnership with the Center for Religious Research of State Administration for Religious Affairs. This is an historic agreement, and I am confident that it will help foster innovative scholarship and research at both of our institutions…and that it will ultimately enrich global scholarship.
I also cannot think of a better way to inaugurate our academic exchange than with today’s lecture by a distinguished scholar and leader in the area of religious affairs—Minister Ye Xiaowen.
Minister Ye has enjoyed an outstanding career as both a scholar and a public servant. He has filled many notable positions in academia…he served as secretary general of the Youth League in Guizhou, one of China’s most ethnically and spiritually diverse provinces… he was vice minister of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee and vice secretary general of the All China Youth Federation… and since the early 1990s he has led the State’s administration of religious affairs, most recently as the minister of SARA.
I could list many more accomplishments of Minister Ye, but will stop at simply mentioning that in addition to holding the top post at SARA, he is also an the alternative member of the 17th CPC Central Committee, and the Standing Committee member of the 10th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress.
Minister Ye, clearly you have much wisdom and experience to share with us. I know that I can speak for everyone here, by saying that we very much look forward to your lecture today on Chinese Religious Policy and Its Historical Development.
It’s is now my honor to turn the floor over to Minister Ye.
Thank you again Minister Ye. That was a fascinating lecture—and it certainly sets a high standard for the quality of discussion we can look forward to at our future conferences.
Today, it gives me great pleasure to make our agreement for cooperation and exchange official. Again, we thank the Center for Religious Research of State Administration for Religious Affairs for entrusting Georgetown with the great honor of this relationship.
I would like to take a few moments to talk about the significance of this agreement…In the most general terms, it will bring incredible contributions to our respective cultures, and to our global community… But more specifically, it reflects the growing relationship between Georgetown University and the many outstanding governmental, civic and educational institutions of the People’s Republic of …We all know that is an important leader in our increasingly globalized world… So it is with great pleasure that we strengthen our ties with this powerful nation and its gracious people.
As you are probably aware, Georgetown already has formal relationships with ’s Central Party School; the China Scholarship Council; Renmin University; and East China Normal University to engage in various scholarly exchanges on topics ranging from law to early childhood development. In December, we also opened our first Liaison Office in Shanghai at Fudan University. This will only enhance our ability to collaborate with Fudan’s many outstanding scholars in areas such as law, medicine, and journalism.
Through the agreement we are about to sign, we will also be able to facilitate collaboration in yet another, incredibly important area of scholarship and public policy—religion. For as recent world events have demonstrated, one of humanity’s most pressing concerns is developing a deeper understanding of the world’s religions— and especially their role in global affairs.
How we develop this understanding…how we approach this issue…and how we engage in our increasingly interconnected world very much depends on our traditions and values. For SARA and Georgetown, these are the millennia-old values that are inherent in Chinese culture and Catholicism. Each of us will be bringing these values to our partnership—and in the process—learning from each other and about each other as we preserve and share our most important and intrinsic values. And I truly believe that as we learn more about each other—we will learn more about ourselves.
For this reason, the future exchanges between Georgetown and the Center for Religious Research of SARA are not only important for research and scholarship—they will help us to build true bridges of understanding in our interconnected world. And by building bridges, we will be able to advance the interests of both of our societies…to promote the common good…and to enhance global peace and security.
It is therefore with great honor—and great excitement—that I sign this agreement on behalf of Georgetown University… Minister Ye…