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Vatican appeals to Buddhists for 'climate of peace'

Interfaith message timed for Vesakh festival, honoring life of Buddha

Indonesian Buddhist monks pray at last year's Vesakh festival (picture: AFP) Indonesian Buddhist monks pray at last year's Vesakh festival (picture: AFP)
  • Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City
  • Vatican City
  • May 3, 2013
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The Vatican has urged Buddhists and Christians to work together, “on the basis of the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions, to create a climate of peace to love, defend and promote human life.”

In its first interfaith message since the election of Pope Francis, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue stressed that the Argentine pontiff, “at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions.”

The message has been sent to Buddhist communities around Asia in advance of the festivity of Vesakh, which commemorates the main events of the Buddha's life and is celebrated in different communities throughout May. An informal advance message was sent to Japan's Buddhists, who celebrate Vesakh in early April.

The Vatican message notes that the cornerstone of Buddhist ethics, which calls for a loving kindness to all living beings and forbids killing, is deeply in tune with the Christian commandment “You shalt not kill.”

Yet, in today's societies, “evil in different forms contributes to the dehumanization of the person by mitigating the sense of humanity in individuals and communities.”

For this reason, Buddhists and Christians are called to work together against this “tragic situation,” joining hands to “unmask the threats to human life and to awaken the ethical consciousness of our respective followers.”

The common aim of the two faiths should be the “spiritual and moral rebirth of individuals and societies in order to be true peacemakers who love, defend and promote human life in all its

dimensions.”

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