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Catholics extend birthday wishes

Churches wish many happy returns to the Buddha with special banners and temple visits

A congratulatory placard A congratulatory placard "Congratulations on Buddha's Birthday" is hung on the wall of Seongbuk-dong Catholic Church in Seoul (photo courtesy of Seongbuk-dong Church)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • May 9, 2011
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Many Catholics are visiting Buddhist temples or hanging up banners to mark the Buddha's birthday celebrations tomorrow, in a sign, an expert says, that reflects the healthy state of religious dialogue at local level.

Just over 10 years ago, according to James Byun Jin-heung, former secretary-general of the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP), religious dialogue was more of a national issue led by official organizations like the KCRP or the bishops' conference.

The Buddha´s birthday is commemorated on May 10 in Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore and on May 17 in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

It is a "very positive change" for practical religious harmony, James said.

As an example of this, Seongbuk-dong Church in Seoul archdiocese hung up a banner outside the church yesterday sending good wishes to nearby Kilsangsa Temple for Buddha's birthday.

The parish priest and parishioners later visited the temple and handed out orchids as gifts.

"As neighbors we just wanted to congratulate them and wish them a happy day," said Father Raymond Kim Myoung-sup, the parish priest.

Gaeun Church in Andong diocese and Hapdeok Church in Daejeon diocese also hung congratulatory banners.

Meanwhile, Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon diocese and Archbishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil of Daegu archdiocese visited temples to pay their respects to Buddhist monks.

Related report
Pope sends Buddhists a Vesak message

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